Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. (Mark 15:40-41)
A few years ago I drove into my neighborhood just as a big party was starting to break up. A young man on a motorcycle was staged in the middle of the road, and for reasons I still can’t explain, decided to drag to the end of our street. The only problem was our street ends pretty abruptly in the direction he was going. He hit a curb, was thrown from the cycle, and unfortunately did not survive.
The scene was tragic and surreal. But a memory that will stay etched in my mind is the reaction of some people at the party. As soon as the word was out someone had called 911, half of the crowd jumped in their vehicles and sped away. I can’t say for sure, but my guess is most of them were somewhere they weren’t supposed to be.
I thought about the meaning of “friendship” as the poor young man’s body rested on the ground and his fellow-partiers drove off. But there were other reactions. I spoke with some who were sobbing uncontrollably as they paced back and forth in the middle of the street. And others were kneeling by their friend to do what they could as they waited for the paramedics.
Please understand. I don’t want to suggest the disciples had done anything wrong. But they were in trouble with the law. The chief priest and teachers of God’s law had their eye on them because they had been with Jesus. These were the blind guides who had turned God’s beautiful law into a monstrous mountain of man-made rules. The civil authorities made note of the disciples too, and soon James would be run through with a sword under Herod’s direction. This explains why, when Jesus was arrested, the disciples scattered.
It is true, Peter followed Jesus into a courtyard below the place where He was tried by the Sanhedrin. But when he was confronted with his relationship with Jesus he said, “I don’t know the man!”
Only John stayed. John, the disciples whom Jesus loved stayed at the foot of the cross to comfort Mary and watch His Savior die. This brings us to these women in our passage this morning. While most of the other disciples hopped in their cars and SUVs and drove away as fast as possible, the women stayed. They watched from a distance, but they didn’t run.
And I wonder… Did the fact they had followed Jesus and cared for His needs have something to do with their willingness to stay? The disciples were good men and most of them would lay down their lives for the kingdom. But I can’t think of much they did to care for Jesus’ needs during His ministry. They were mostly positioning themselves so their needs could be met. But the women…they cared for His needs. Therefore, as He died, they stayed…just in case there was something they could do.
Often, there isn’t much we can do to help the people we care about. But “staying” is something. Sometimes it is the only something that counts. And it’s alright if we stay “from a distance.” People don’t always need us next to them. They just need to know we are there.
Dear God, thank You for staying with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.