The Why, How & Who of Good Friday – Meaningful ways to commemorate Good, Holy, Atoning Friday
Why is it important to commemorate Good Friday? The answer is simple: We are changed as we pause and reflect on the Savior’s greatest act of love (John 15:13). Jesus himself has asked us to remember His death, view His death (Jacob 1:8) and behold His wounds time after time. I believe He asks us to do this because He knows remembering his death will help us feel His love.
For a long time I felt unsure on how to connect with Good Friday due to the intense and contrasting emotions–solemnity with the painful process of crucifixion, profound display of Jesus’ love in giving his life for us, and feeling the victory and “triumph of the cross” in conquering Satan.
How? Items, Timeline & 7 final statements
Like candy canes or paper angels remind us of people of the Christmas story, items like a judge gavel (for Pilate), gold crown (for Herod), crown of thorns (for Jesus), ribbon (for Pilate’s wife), vinegar, large nail, a sword and similar items can remind us of the people and events of Good Friday. Here is a list of Good Friday items (with scriptural references!) These items can engage the interest of younger children, teens and also adults!
Pondering on the timeline of Good Friday is one way to worship. For example: before dawn Peter denying Jesus for the third time before the cock crows, Jesus making eye contact with him, and Peter weeping. In the early morning: Jesus on trial before Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate; Barabbas being let free even though he was guilty; Jesus carrying His cross on the way to Calvary, then Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross. At 9am Jesus nailed to the cross. From 9am-3pm Jesus on the cross and all his acquaintance nearby, specifically the women at the cross; John the beloved. The signs of his death including 3 hours of darkness, an earthquake, the graves open, the temple veil torn in two; the centurion at the foot of the cross who declared, “Surely this is the son of God” and the signs happening in the American continent. The seven final statements of Jesus on the cross are powerful to ponder at this time. These statements are significant and teach the character and role of the Savior. See this page for a lesson plan on them. At 3pm Jesus final words, “Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit;” Joseph of Arimathea begging Pilate for the body of Jesus. Jesus body is removed from the cross; Nicodemus bringing burial clothes and 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes for Jesus; the women who behold the burial place.
Who? The People of Good Friday
TRIAL TO PATH: Before dawn: Annas; Caiaphas; Chief Priests; Early morning: Pilate, Pilates Wife; Herod; Roman Soldiers; Barabbas; Judas (who tries to return the money); Roman soldiers who mock him; Simon of Cyrene; The group of women Jesus speaks to on his way to Calvary
AT THE CROSS: Jesus; Roman soldiers who nail Jesus to the cross and cast lots for his clothing; 2 thieves on the cross who speak to Jesus; the Roman Soldiers who crucify him; Mary the Mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary the mother of James and Joses; Mother of Zebedee’s children; Salome; Joanna; Mary of Clopas; Jesus’ aunt; the beloved disciple, likely John; “Many other women” who followed Jesus from Galilee; All his acquaintance
AT DEATH AND BURIAL: Soldier who puts spear in Jesus side and out comes water and blood; Centurion at the cross who beholds the events and declares, “Truly this is the Son of God;” Joseph of Arimathea; Nicodemus; The women who behold the burial place.
For scripture references, a reader’s theatre and items to represent these people see this page.
Images can also connect us with the people and events of Good Friday. You can find images in this Ppt presentation link or you can do your own search online for images you like. I suggest keeping your searches specific; for example search: image of Pilate’s wife; or image of Centurion at the foot of the cross.
Just like it would be very limiting for us to fit all of our Christmas devotionals, activities, and celebrations to one day, it is wise to not limit the discussions surrounding Good Friday to just one day. We could choose to discuss people and events of Good Friday during the weeks leading up to Holy Week, during Holy Week itself, and on Good Friday. Similar to the Christmas season, knowing what we are celebrating and talking about it in anticipation of the actual day can help us be more ready to learn.
Focus on Jesus Christ’s love
Early in my life I associated Jesus’ death with sadness and I didn’t want to linger there. However, I have come to associate the Jesus Christ’s death with his love for me and all mankind, which brings hope. Now I find deep joy and meaning when I pause and sit with the solemnity of Good Friday. The “Good” in Good Friday is derived from the word holy–Holy because it is the day Jesus died for us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called it “Atoning Friday.” I call it Good, Holy, Atoning Friday because I connect with all three.
As we make time for Good Friday we will feel the reality of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. If we are so quick to get to the joyous Risen Lord of Easter Sunday we may miss the significance of the Loving Christ of Good Friday. We can engage with Good Friday in multiple ways: the storyline, the people, the 7 final statements. However we decide to commemorate Good Friday, I hope we slow down and ponder on the goodness, love and power of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and throughout the entire Easter season.
Below are a few lists: People of Good Friday, Events of Good Friday, link to ideas for young children, food and a Powerpoint link. Scripture references for the events and people can be found on this page.
Elder Stevenson said, “a more Christ-centered Easter…includes a greater and more thoughtful recognition of ….Good Friday as practiced by some of our Christian cousins. We might also adopt appropriate Christ centered Easter traditions found in the cultures and practices of countries worldwide” (The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told, Liahona, May 2023)
Special foods on significant days can help make them even more memorable. Hot cross buns are a fun treat. see this post for recipes. Christians in many faith traditions fast on Good Friday.
ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Eat a meal in darkness (Hales book); Carry a beam (Hales book); Make a crown of thorns with Playdough & toothpicks (Rosbourough book); Handle Objects to tell the story; Make sugar cookies or bread in shape of cross or heart or both; Dress up as people of Good Friday and do a readers theater. See list of people above; Coloring pages of the seven final statements; Coloring page of veil of the temple in purple and red and tear it in half
Here is a Powerpoint presentation I have used to help teach about Good/Holy/Atoning Friday. You are welcome to use it! I hope these resources are helpful to you in understanding and teaching the importance of Good Friday!
Events of Holy Week are found in about 40% of the entire Gospel of John! Each Gospel writer differs slightly in their details of Holy Week; the outline below is a common view of the days of Holy Week. I came up with the word for each day
TITLE of Jesus, basic timeline of events, ONE WORD, a couple words & one scriptural phrase for each day of HOLY WEEK
Palm Sunday– King of Israel. Jesus enters Jerusalem. HOSANNA! (Praise, King) “Blessed is he …. who cometh in the name of the Lord (Mark 11:10)”
Monday – Son of God. Jesus cleanses the temple and curses the fig tree. CLEANSE (Temple, hypocrisy) “My house…is a house a prayer (Mark 11:17)”
Teaching Tuesday – Bridegroom. Jesus teaches in parables. WATCH (Prepare, Seek after) “Ye know me not (Matt 25:11)”
Spy Wednesday/Anointing Wednesday – Anointed One. Jesus is anointed by a woman prior to his burial. Jesus praises her. The chief priests and Judas make a plan for Jesus’ arrest. ANOINT (Betray, compassion) “She hath done what she could (Mark 14:8)”
Maundy Thursday – ServantLeader. Jesus introduces the First Sacrament, eats the Last Supper, washes disciples’ feet, teaches, sings a hymn, enters Gethsemane, asks that the bitter cup be removed, prays in agony, strengthened by an angel, betrayed by Judas, arrested, trial before Caiaphas and Jewish leaders. REMEMBER (Eat, Serve) “Remember me in this hour (Mark 14:24)”
Good/Holy/Atoning Friday – Atoning Sacrifice. Jesus is denied by Peter before the sunrise. Jesus is tried before Pilate and Herod. Barabbas set free, Jesus is whipped, mocked, carries the cross, nailed to the cross, hangs on the cross for 6 hours; 3 hours of darkness, says his 7 last statements on the cross; earthquake; graves open; veil torn in two; Centurion proclaims Jesus is the Son of God; Joseph of Arimathea offers his empty tomb, Nicodemus brings 75 lbs of aloes and myrrh. Women at the cross watch where Jesus body is laid. ATONE (Mocking, Calvary) “It is finished (John 19:30)”
Saturday – Mediator. Jesus body lays in the tomb. Women rest and prepare spices. WAIT (Rested, Prepared) “Prepared…and rested (Luke 23:56)”
Easter Sunday – Risen Lord. Earthquake, Angels come, Roman guards flee; Women run to the tomb very early in the morning bringing the spices they had prepared; Angels declare “He is Risen” and go and tell the others. Jesus appears to Peter, to the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus; to the disciples behind closed doors in the evening and eats fish and honeycomb with them. HALLELUJAH! (Risen, Angel) “He is Risen! Go and tell! (Mark 16:6,7)”
Here is a PowerPoint file I use to teach about Holy Week. You are welcome to use it (note-it is a very large file!) It highlights events from Palm Sunday to Thursday of Holy Week and includes ideas to help our families learn and feel the scriptural accounts. See my Good Friday page for a ppt just on Good Friday.
Elder Stevenson also said, “I observe a growing effort among Latter-day Saints toward a more Christ-centered Easter. This includes a greater and more thoughtful recognition of Palm Sunday and Good Friday as practiced by some of our Christian cousins. We might also adopt appropriate Christ centered Easter traditions found in the cultures and practices of countries worldwide” (The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told, Liahona, May 2023)
I am often asked to share resources for celebrating the Easter season with the rich religious tradition it deserves. The scriptures are the most important resource of course!!! Here are a few other resources to help us focus on Jesus Christ during the Easter season. Of course, we do not need to use all of these! Just as Christmas time can become overwhelming if we try to do everything, we want to focus on what is most important and not be so overburdened we cannot feel the peace the Spirit of the Lord brings.
Pick and choose what best suits you, your phase of life and your vision for feeling the sanctity of the Easter season. Let’s celebrate the Easter story with “the same balance, fulness, and rich religious tradition of the…Christmas story” (Elder Stevenson April 2023)!!
In this a short video President Nelson invites us to think of the peace and hope that Easter brings “because of Him” and (at minute 2:55) to think of the Palms of Jesus’ hands this Palm Sunday and (at min 3:25) he gives us another invitation for Holy Week. In this Video President Nelson encourages us to forgive during the Easter season.
People in Easter Story Cards– digital download. These are cards I made as a resources for young children, teenagers and families to help us see/learn/discuss the people from Gethsemane on Thursday to the Resurrection Sunday. It is a digital download so you can print the cards small (9 or 16 to a page) playing card games or print larger (4to a page) for display in a banner or as other decor.
Elder Gary Stevenson quoted New Testament scholar N. T. Wright as saying, “We should be taking steps to celebrate Easter in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts. … This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity.”
Early Christian Women:Christlike examples of Consecration, Commitment and Conviction
When we think of faithful New Testament women our first thoughts probably go to Mary the mother of Jesus, or to Mary Magdalene the first human witness of the resurrected Savior (Luke 2:7, John 20:11-16). While these two Marys are stalwart disciples, we can also find inspiring examples in the women converted soon after Jesus Christ’s resurrection who were essential to the growth of the early Christian church. Many of these women were well known in their communities; they heard Paul preach in the synagogues, by rivers, and in busy city centers (Acts 17:4, 12, 16-17). A mix of Jews and Gentiles, they were powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ whose lives of consecration, commitment, and conviction can deepen our own discipleship. As we study the final Pauline epistles in Come Follow Me, we can find great value by reflecting on their contribution.
In an informal social media survey of 254 church members, while 99% said they knew something significant about Mary Magdalene, only 4% knew something significant about Damaris, and only 1% something about Lois or Euodia. This is not surprising given that the information about these women is often sparse and some of their names are hard to pronounce. In this article, we will explore the examples of early Christian women who chose to consecrate their resources, commit their lives, and show deep conviction to Jesus Christ. (Note: Throughout this article, scripture references come from the King James Version, KJV unless otherwise indicated.)
First, the early Christian women lived lives of consecration. They used their resources (Mary the mother of John Mark, Acts 12:12), their kindness and service (Tabitha, Acts 9:36-43, Phebe, Romans 16:1-2), their spiritual gifts (four daughters of Phillip, Acts 21:8-9), and their lives (Priscilla, Acts 18:2-3 & Romans 16:3-5) to build the church. While many early Christian women converts exemplified lives of consecration, in this article we will explore principles we can learn from Phebe, the four daughters of Phillip, and Priscilla.
Phebe is the only person for whom Paul tells the saints to, “do whatever she tells you to do.” (Romans 16:1, 2 New International Version (NIV)). To give that open directive, Paul must have known her well and had confidence in her. Paul writes that Phebe helped many of the saints including himself. Her hometown was Cenchrea, near Corinth, and Paul trusted her to deliver his letter to the Romans. Paul puts his stamp of approval on the work she is doing and is appreciative of it. He describes Phebe as a “servant of the church, (Romans 1:2, NIV)” focusing on her significant efforts to build up God’s kingdom. When we think of Phebe we would do well to pause and ask, “Could I be described as a servant of the church?” or, “Am I trusted and serviceable in a way that a church leader would tell other members, ‘Do whatever she tells you to do?”’
The fourdaughters of Philip may not be well known to us, but they are known in Caesarea for their spiritual gift of prophecy (Acts 21:8,9). Joseph Smith taught, “No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy” (Teachings of Joseph Smith, 193) Elder James E. Talmage wrote, “No special ordination in the Priesthood is essential to man’s receiving the gift of prophecy…this gift may be possessed by women also” (Articles of Faith, 228-229). Perhaps the four unmarried daughters of Philip are boldly sharing their testimonies of Jesus Christ, or perhaps they are prophesying the future, or both. Whichever it is, they are known for their spiritual gift. We could ask ourselves, “Am I sharing my spiritual gifts and abilities in a way that is blessing others?”
Consecration can be seen as dedicating your whole self to God. It appears from the moment Priscilla first encountered the apostle Paul that she lived a life of consecration, devoting her life to the Lord. With her husband Aquila, she hosted Paul in her home for a year and half in their hometown city of Corinth. “Because [Paul] was of the same craft he abode with them… and continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:2, 11). Priscilla likely took advantage of the 18 months with Paul to learn doctrine; this became apparent later in Ephesus. When Paul traveled to Ephesus for more missionary opportunities, Priscilla and her husband Aquila came with him. After Paul departed, Priscilla and Aquila stayed in Ephesus. A talented preacher named Apollos came to Ephesus and drew the attention of the Ephesians, but he did not have all his facts straight. “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Priscilla and Aquila corrected false teaching and did so appropriately and graciously.
Furthermore, at some time in their missionary journeys, they risked their life for Paul. This may have been in Ephesus when the city was in an uproar or perhaps it was a different situation when Paul’s life was in danger. Being willing to put their life on the line for Paul showed their dedication to the cause. Paul wrote, “Greet Prisca [Priscilla] and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles” (Romans 16:3-5). The phrase “all the churches of the gentiles” (my emphasis) is comprehensive! It implies Priscilla and Aquila must have traveled to additional cities or served the many church congregations in other ways, since they all felt appreciative towards this missionary couple.
Not surprisingly, Priscilla and Aquila also hosted church gatherings at their house. Paul writes, “Greet…the church in their house” Romans 16:3-5. Priscilla’s deep conversion is evidence in her life of consecration. She opened her home to Paul for a year and half. She left her home and occupation to travel with and assist Paul. She knew the doctrine and was bold enough to correct false teaching and did so politely. She risked her life for Paul and served in a way that all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks to her.
When women and men today allow the Lord to use their talents and abilities even when it stretches them, they show devotion to Jesus and his message. Sister Michelle Craig taught, “When your faith, your family, or your future are all challenged—when you wonder why life is so hard when you are doing your best to live the gospel—remember the Lord told us to expect troubles…I am learning that Heavenly Father is more interested in my growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ than he is about my comfort” (Wholehearted, Liahona Nov 2022).
Learning of the early Christian women shows us that, their conversion to Jesus Christ showed total commitment as seen in Damaris (Acts 17:34), Junia (Romans 16:7), Lois and Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5) and Rufus’ mother (Romans 16:13). Damaris, in Athens, is a prime example of commitment. She chose to listen to a servant of God, not common culture and her belief brought adherence to Paul. When Paul preached to her of a living God, and taught that we are his offspring, Damaris believed his preaching even though it differed greatly from the many unapproachable Greek gods in her city and culture (Acts 17:23-27). “Certain men clave unto [Paul], and believed…and a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:34). Clave means “to strongly adhere to” meaning that Damaris’ conversion brought commitment to Paul and the doctrine he taught. Her conversion is relevant to our day. Damaris was surrounded by a culture that preached everything but the one true God, yet she recognized the truth of Paul’s testimony and allowed that testimony to alter her life.
A second woman disciple who exemplifies commitment is Junia, whose imprisonment for Jesus showed that she was willing to suffer for Jesus Christ; also, Paul shared that her service was “chief among the apostles” (Romans 16:7). Interestingly, in Greek, apostle means “one who is sent” and did not always connote the person held the priesthood office of apostle. Like the term apostle implies today, it does mean she “went forth,” and witnessed and taught of Jesus (Meyers, Women in Scripture, 107). It may imply she had seen the resurrected Jesus, perhaps being among the 500 who saw the resurrected Jesus after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6). Junia, showed commitment in going forth as a witness of Jesus Christ and enduring imprisonment.
While Junia’s conviction was seen in the public eye, Lois and Eunice’s commitment was seen in their own home. When his mission companion Timothy needed encouragement, Paul reminded him of the faith of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. He wrote, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded is in thee also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Either Paul worked with Lois and Eunice in Lystra when he first met Timothy, or he knew enough of their reputation to point Timothy to their profound faith. Timothy’s father was a Greek which may imply he had not converted to this new sect of Christians; suggesting that his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice were the main gospel teachers in his home (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Often, our commitment to a cause is demonstrated in a willingness to serve others, even outside of our families. Paul traveled, preached, and seemed to be always on the go. Not surprisingly he appreciated the service rendered by Rufus’ mother towards himself and other saints, “Greet Rufus… and his mother, who has been a mother to me too” (Romans 16:13). Like they did anciently, today women with and/or without children of their own, who are mother figures to others, make a profound difference in their own family life and outside of their family.
As Elder Bednar taught, “brothers and sisters who look for and sit next to people who are alone in Church meetings and in a variety of other settings…[who] consistently strive to ‘comfort those that stand in need of comfort,’ without expectation of acknowledgement or praise,” are devoted disciples of Jesus Christ and are the strength of the church (In the path of their duty, Liahona Nov 2023)
A third lesson was can learn from the early Christian women is that they lived with conviction as seen in those who chose to believe even when persecution raged around them, they worked hard for the Lord, and they opened their homes. Merriam Webster dictionary defines conviction as the “the state of mind of a person who is sure that what he or she believes or says is true.” In this time of opposition and misunderstanding to be named as a believer showed faith and courage. Despite the Jewish rulers doing everything they could to stop the work in Jerusalem, miraculously, the numbers of the church increased dramatically as seen in Acts 5:14, “and believers were the more were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” This was also true for the areas outside of Jerusalem like Samaria and Caesarea. After the ascension, when Phillip traveled to Samaria “both men and women” were baptized there (Acts 8:12).
Our level of conviction can be shown in what we are willing to put our energy into. Paul described Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis who “work hard in the Lord” (Romans 16:12, NIV), and Mary of Rome who “worked very hard for you” (Romans 16:6, NIV). Anciently, the rigors of daily life likely required more physical labor than they do today, however Paul wanted his fellow saints to know that these women believers were working hard for them and for the Lord.
Working hard for the Lord in some cases included opening homes for church gatherings, including all that hosting entails. Specifically, at least six women were lauded for opening their home: Mary the mother of John Mark in Acts 12:12; Lydia in Acts 16:40; Chloe in 1 Corinthians 1:11; Priscilla in 1 Corinthians 16:19; Apphia in Philemon 1:2 (NIV); Nympha in Colossians 4:15 (NIV).
Lydia, the first Christian convert in modern day Greece,demonstrated her deep conviction initially with her humility in accepting Paul’s testimony as truth and then by sharing her financial resources and leadership with the church. She listened to Paul by the river where women had gathered for prayer. Her whole household was converted, and she welcomed Paul and the believers to her home. She was a businesswoman and a woman of means; she used those means to build the church. She was humble enough to allow the Lord to open her heart and brave enough to open her home for gathering and strengthening saints (Acts 16:12-15, 40).
Living a life of discipleship frequently meant working alongside other brothers and sisters in the church. In Paul’s words Euodia and Syntyche worked hard “at my side” (Philippians 4:2,3 NIV). What did Euodia and Syntyche do as they worked alongside of an apostle and missionary? They likely strengthened new converts, taught, ministered, spread the good news of the gospel, and served however it was needed. Paul writes that Euodia and Syntyche’s names are in the book of life, a strong endorsement of the important work they did (Philippians 4:2-3).
In Berea where many men and women believed Paul’s words, they “received the message with eagerness and examined the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17: 10-12, NIV). This is one of very few places in scripture where the people are specifically noted as searching the scriptures daily. President Nelson taught how essential being in the scriptures daily is when he said, “With frightening speed, a testimony that is not nourished daily “by the good word of God”can crumble. Thus, the antidote to Satan’s scheme is clear: we need daily experiences worshiping the Lord and studying His gospel. I plead with you to let God prevail in your life. Give Him a fair share of your time. As you do, notice what happens to your positive spiritual momentum” (The Power of Spiritual Momentum, Liahona, May 2023). The Berean converts exemplify seeking to know the truth from the scriptures and searching them daily.
In the present day, saints throughout the world today show conviction in their beliefs as they too work hard for the Lord, open their homes, and work alongside other saints. We may open our homes when we welcome our ministering brothers or sisters, or welcome new converts or others who need their faith strengthened. We may open our homes by having youth over for a wholesome activity. We work alongside other saints when we contribute to council meetings and serve side by side. We work hard for the Lord as we focus on Jesus Christ and serve others. President Camille Johnson taught, “Jesus Christ is relief…We can partner with the Savior to help provide temporal and spiritual relief for those in need—and in the process find our own relief” (Jesus Christ is Relief, Liahona May 2023).
While we wish we had more information on each group of women converts and each individual sister, we have ample details to get a glimpse into the devoted discipleship of the early Christian saints. When Paul departed from the cities after teaching, the newly baptized members were left to build the church in that area. Their belief in Jesus Christ compelled them to minister and to share their witness. Clearly, everywhere the gospel message went, women were a vital part of it.
Perhaps we can we discuss the contributions of these faithful early Christian women more than we do? When we think of Priscilla, we could ask ourselves, “Does my belief in Jesus Christ motivate me to devote my life to the Lord? or Phebe, “Am I a servant of the church?” or Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis, “Do I work hard for the Lord?” or Lydia, “Have I allowed the Lord to open my heart?” or Lois and Eunice, “Am I passing on my faith to my children and/or grandchildren?” or the four daughters of Phillip, “Do I share my spiritual gifts in a way that is known and blesses others?” or Junia, “Do I minister and share my witness of the good news of Jesus Christ?” or Damaris, “Do I listen to a servant of God, not common culture?” When we remember the love and compassion they possessed, the work they engaged in, the fearless faith they fostered, the tenderness they exhibited, and the joy they experienced, we find in them inspiration to go do as they did in being valiant in our testimonies of Jesus Christ.
Stepping back and looking geographically, we see that the early Christian women were all throughout the Roman empire, as illustrated in this map. Today, female disciples of Jesus Christ likewise circle the globe, blessing lives and building the church.
As taught by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, no matter where we are serving in the kingdom of God, our role is important and needed (Lift where you stand, Liahona 2008). By looking at the holistic view of the faithful women on the map, we can see it was not just one person or a couple of people growing the early Christian church. There were hundreds, some well-known, others lesser known, but all essential. How tragic it would be if one person thought her efforts were not important or needed! Every saint anciently who made and kept covenants made a remarkable difference wherever they served. The same is true today.
Note for the chart below: This chart only includes faithful women, not every woman mentioned. For example, the female soothsayer in Philippi, or the women and men who cast Paul out of their city are not listed as part of the faithful women below.
Chart one: Faithful Women in Asian Minor and Macedonia. Female Disciples Early Post-Resurrection period in Asia Minor and Macedonia: Sorted by name, place, role and scripture reference.
How they believe, minister and witness
Colossae, Phrygia, Asia
Welcomes church members to gather in their home
Colossae, Phrygia, Asia
Welcomes church members to gather in their home
Lystra (Asia, Galatia)
Conveys her faith to her grandchild
2 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 3:14-16
Lystra (Asia, Galatia)
Conveys her faith to her child Timothy
2 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 3:14-16
Works hard for the Lord
Works hard for the Lord
Lydia & household
Philippi (Macedonia, Greece)
Welcomes church members to her home amidst persecution; the Lord opened her heart, uses her means to strengthen the church
Philippi (Macedonia, Greece)
Works at Paul’s side, Works hard for the Lord, works with other saints
Many honorable women converts
Examined the scriptures daily
Chief women not a few in Thessalonica
Believed with conviction; faith is known everywhere
1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2:1; 1:8; Acts 17
Believed Paul’s testimony about a living God, Clave unto Paul
Welcome saints to her home
1 Corinthians 1:11
Corinth, Greece; travels to Ephesus, Asia
Hosts Paul in her home for 18 months; travels to Ephesus with Paul and corrects false teaching; risks her life for Paul; all the congregations of the gentiles are grateful to her;
Acts 18:2-3, 11, 26; Romans 16:3-5
Servant of the church, Paul tells the saints to help her anyway she needs
Women converts in Colossae
Have faith in Christ and love for others
Colossians 1:2,4 (NIV)
2 Timothy 4:21
Mary of Rome
Worked hard for the Lord; served people in Rome
Mother of Rufus
Mother figure to Paul and many others
Works hard for the Lord
Sister of Nereus
Romans 16: 15
Chief among the apostles; Imprisoned for Jesus
You are welcome to use this pdf of a PowerPoint it if it is helpful to you.
Do you ever want to just turn push a button and know your children are entertained AND learning AND no screens are involved? They learn while they listen and dance around! It is really the best! I want to share some of my favorite fun, informative, uplifting audio resources for children. I am not getting payment for any of these recommendations; these are just ones I have loved for a lifetime! Many of these albums were published decades ago which makes them a little harder to find out about, but they are still accessible and relevant today! I put these in order of what I personally would purchase first, but I highly recommend ALL!!!
STORIES OF JESUS MUSIC CD
MY FAVORITE VALUABLE RESOURCE is “Stories of Jesus” music CD by Roger and Melanie Hoffman. I LOVE this CD because it contains song after song of events of Jesus’ life in such fun, upbeat, meaningful tunes. The popular song “Gethsemane” is on here. Some of my other favorites are “Loaves and fishes” “He is Risen” and “See the joy.” These songs don’t just tell the story but help listeners feel and understand the story. I will play certain songs at Christmas that go with his birth (See the Joy) and certain songs during the Easter season that go with his death and resurrection or all songs on a Sunday afternoon. I promise you will not be disappointed. This entire album will teach and testify of Jesus Christ in a way only inspired children’s music can. Find it at Deseret Book or at the Hoffman music site. http://rogerandmelaniehoffman.com/stories.html
It is also available on apple music and as digital download from the Hoffmans site.
I cannot recommend Scripture Scouts highly enough for elementary age and preschool children. I grew up listening to and singing these songs. I loved them then and still find meaning in them as an adult! When my children were younger we listened to these songs during the day or as bedtime listening. These dramatizations help children not only know the names of the scripture characters but also learn the lessons found in the storyline.
In addition to the Book of Mormon Scripture scouts, there are scripture scouts albums for other books of scripture including, the New Testament, Old Testament, the Articles of Faith, and The Family Proclamation, and all available at Deseret Book. I found the Book of Mormon scripture scouts CDs on amazon, and it and the other scripture scouts albums are fore sale on the Desert Book website. Unfortunately, I have not found digital albums though.
A 2021 review of the Book of Mormon Scripture Scouts album: “We have absolutely loved scripture scouts! They have made particularly our car rides fun! Driving to and from grandmas house or longer distances feels different! I can turn them on and know that the entertainment they are getting doesn’t get any better than scripture scouts! The songs are so catchy and teach doctrine and principles of the gospel. We are so thankful for the Hoffman family for taking the time to create such a wonderful resource.” –Haley W. (Mom of a 7, 4 and 6 month old boys)
MY FAMILY AND ME SING ALONG
Would you like your family to listen to songs about the real, the fun, and the ideal family roles with catchy, inspiring tunes? This is what Scripture scouts sing along—my family and me is all about. I love the powerful doctrine the songs teach–and all about the family!
I grew up listening to this cassette tape and learned so much from the values each song teaches. We played them while we did our Saturday chores. Particularly the song, “Work like beaver” was great to do our work to.Each song is catchy and and upbeat and teaches important values. This is not a religious music album–just important values everyone child should learn about. For years this album has been hard to locate but there is now a digital download available at Deseret Book. Totally worth it!!
Of course, this list is not complete. I wanted to share some oldies that are still so wonderful. Hopefully I can add more soon, but these are definitely my top picks! Please leave any of your favorites in the comments below.
Have you ever wanted an answer to one of these questions: What is a result of having the Spirit with you? How can you tell if you are feeling the Spirit in your life? What does the Spirit feel like? How do I know if I don’t have the Spirit with me?
Galatians 5:22-23 is such a valuable resource. It lists simple descriptive attributes that help us know if we have the Spirit of the Lord in our life.
I love to teach this to children and teenagers but the list can be a challenge for them to remember. I came up with a fun saying that helped me remember them in order: Can you see how it matches up with the attributes?
Little Jolly People Keep Green Grapes From Mashing Snakes
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: against such there is not law. Galatians 5:22-23
There are two options for the last attribute because the final word listed in the King James Version is temperance, a word not commonly used, so I substitute self-control which has the same meaning but is more understandable. Little Jolly People can keep Green Grapes from Mashing Toys instead of Snakes if you prefer the word temperance in the list. Feel free to change the mnemonic device or create a better phrase of your own.
Songs or sheer repetition may help your children more than a fun saying. If so, you may enjoy one of the youtube links below. Whatever method we choose, I hope the fruits of the Spirit can become more a part of our vocabulary, and most importantly more a part of our daily thinking and living.
Just a few a verses before these in Galatians 5 is a list of the “works of the flesh” or the result of not having the Spirit. This is also a valuable reminder of what to avoid. Fighting, arguing, jealousy, giving everything a sexual connotation (lasciviousness) are not fruits of the Spirit.
What can we do to feel more of these delicious fruits of the Spirit in our lives and avoid the yucky works of the flesh?
Do you ever cry the day you take the Christmas tree down? I
do! I have also felt the same sadness
when Easter ends. My deep love of Easter came after reading, “A Christ-centered Easter” by Joe and
Janet Hales. Its premise is compelling. The Hales suggest shifting secular Easter
activities (e.g., the “Easter Bunny,”) to earlier in the season (e.g., the
“Spring Bunny,)” so the family can focus on the significant events of the
Savior’s final days of mortality during Easter week. These meaningful
traditions during Holy Week became ones my children looked forward to.
The Savior was actually central to our family’s Easter season and His
Spirit was felt more abundantly in our home.
But one particular year when life seemed extra crazy we didn’t do all I hoped to do in the days and weeks leading up to Easter. Easter Sunday came to a close and I experienced a mix of sadness and regret because this holy time was over and I felt like I had shortchanged my family. As I turned to the scriptures for solace, hope filled my heart. Clearly earthly experiences with the resurrected Lord were not limited to one day, so our celebrations and teachings need not be limited to one day. What great news!
We rightly focus on Mary Magdalene
as the first witness to Christ’s resurrection early Sunday morning; the Lord also
appearing to his disciples that evening. But Jesus also appeared to his disciples a
week later in Jerusalem, then again in Galilee (at least a week later) and on
further occasions until his ascension into heaven 40 days later. FORTY days later!!! Strangely, we often
neglect this time period of the Lord’s ministry.
Thankfully, I realized we
could focus on these post-resurrection scriptural accounts during family time
on Sundays following Easter. Of course
our thoughts, especially on the Sabbath, should always focus on the Savior;
however the timeline after the Resurrection provides simple direction for
discussions. Specific methods for
celebrating post-Resurrection events will vary, but if your overall goal is to
allow the joy of the Savior’s resurrection to permeate your home for weeks on
end, you can’t go wrong.
The ideas below are not
meant to be mandatory or prescriptive—they are merely suggestions. Seven Sundays
are outlined; however combining weeks has worked best for our family. On the other hand, you may choose to implement
a family home evening that integrates them all.
I have found extending Easter celebrations even a week or two increases scriptural
literacy and testimony. What will best
suit your family? I hope that in
whatever way you decide to continue celebrating might keep you from crying at
the close of Easter Sunday.
Seven Sundays Following Easter
after Easter Sunday -The Savior appeared again to his disciples! This
time Thomas was there! John 20:25
says, “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with
them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said,
Peace be unto you.”
Invite your family to pretend they are in the
room when Jesus appears again. Ask them to make the facial expression they
would have made. Have everyone share how they would feel if they were Thomas.
If they were one of the other disciples who had seen him the previous Sunday?
Read John 20:26-31 and consider how we can
believe in the Savior even though we have not seen him in this life.
The second Sunday after Easter-Feed my Sheep. Discuss
the account in John 21:1 which states, “after these things Jesus showed
himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias.” This is the setting in
which Jesus gives his disciples the command to “feed my lambs” and “feed my
sheep.” The sermon in John 21 deserves at least annual reflection.
For young children you may choose to
incorporate the sheep theme with a craft or treat to add creative fun. Cotton
balls, cauliflower, or simple coloring pages may be in order.
Talk about: Who are the sheep? Who are the
lambs? Where do we get the food to feed them? Which lambs hard to find? How do
we feed them?
For older children read and discuss Elder
Jeffrey R. Holland’s insights from his talk featuring this event (see “The
First Great Commandment” Ensign, Nov
2012). Set a goal of something you can do this Sabbath day to show the Lord you
do love him and you will feed his sheep. Then go and do it today!
The third Sunday after Easter–Go ye into all the
world. Only a few commandments the Savior gave post-Resurrection are
recorded. One of these was, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to
every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Display a map of the world or print world
maps as coloring pages for young children as you discuss this teaching of
Jesus. If your map is laminated, you may choose to write names of relatives
over the country in which they served missions or simply point out places
family members or ancestors have served.
Reflect on the joy missionary work has
brought you and your family. Share recent missionary experiences you have had
as a family or individuals. Talk about how your family can better fulfill this
The fourth and fifth Sundays after Easter–Hundreds of
Read 1 Corinthians 15:4-8, which describes
several eye-witnesses of Christ’s resurrection we don’t often discuss. Talk
about what it means to be a witness and why the Savior would choose to show
himself to certain people. Why did He need witnesses then? Why does He need
witnesses today? How can each of us be a witness of the Savior?
Sing Hymn 137 “Testimony” looking for phrases
that stand out. Remind family members when we partake of the Sacrament we promise
to witness of the Savior. Invite those who desire to “bear witness” or in other
words bear testimony.
sixth Sunday after Easter– The Ascension. Even
though Acts 1:3 states the Savior was seen of his apostles “for forty days,”
because of the symbolic meaning of forty days it may not be exactly that time
period. Nevertheless many Christian calendars mark the Day of Ascension 39 days
after Easter, making it fall on a Thursday; celebrations can occur the
Review and act out the account in Acts 1:1-11.
Search in the Topical Guide for “Signs of the
Second Coming.” Sing the Primary song “I Wonder When He Comes Again.”
a piece of art- draw, paint, use clay or a musical instrument- to represent
feelings about the Savior’s return to earth.
The seventh Sunday after Easter—The Day of
Pentecost. Celebrated 7 Sundays after Easter Sunday, Pentecost commemorates
the account in Acts 2.
Study the account in Acts chapter 2; review
the miracles and conversions which occurred. Discuss how the Holy Ghost can be
felt in both powerful and quiet ways. Eat
special or favorite fruit while you discuss the fruits of the Spirit (Gal
Sing the primary song “The Holy Ghost” or
Hymn 143 “Let the Holy Spirit Guide” both of which list roles of the Holy
Ghost. Have all who desire share experiences of feeling the Holy Ghost in a
variety of its capacities: comforts, testifies, teaches, warns, inspires,
instructs, and provides peace and assurance.
Since life doesn’t seem to slow down during the Easter
season I particularly love the flexibility allowed in these post-resurrection
events. Only the first, sixth and seventh weeks have an actual date attached. Also, when it seems that memories of Easter
have faded, the significant commemorations of Ascension and Pentecost are just
around the corner. By extending our
Easter celebrations, we can better keep the Savior’s command to always remember
Women as witnesses, mourners, helpers, and disciples. Women with tender feelings, bold actions and powerful testimonies.
While people often comment on the lack of women in scripture, the reality is many many women are not only mentioned but play pivotal roles. This is especially true during Holy Week.
Scriptural accounts clearly record women are involved in key events of the last week of the Savior’s life. Women were with Jesus on the six day journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. They welcomed him in Bethpage and Bethany. A woman anointed Jesus with costly ointment as a token for his burial. A maid by the fire and Pilate’s wife are witness to some of the events surrounding the trial. Many women stand by the cross witnessing his suffering and Jesus specifically addresses his mother. When Jesus’ body is removed from the cross women follow to see where he was buried. Women were the first to arrive at the tomb Easter morning to discover it was empty! On that glorious occasion they saw angels and were the first to hear the joyful words, “He is not here, for he is risen as he said.” They were charged to be the first to proclaim the good news and a few of them were the first physical witnesses of the Jesus’ resurrection!
During the last week of his life women sought to care for Him and be close to Him. Similarly, many women today choose to witness of Him and support His work. Millions of modern Christian women preach of Christ and follow Christ. We can find strength in each other as fellow followers of Jesus as we do our part to spread His gospel.
Women of Holy Week in roughly chronological order:
Women on the journey from Galilee and before entering Jerusalem
Women follow Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. (Luke 23:49) They were women which “ministered to unto him of their substance” (Luke 8:3).
Mourning Martha and Mary declare their faith at Lazarus’ tomb in Bethany before Jesus enters Jerusalem (John 11:17-46). Martha testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. They rejoice when Jesus miraculously raises their brother Lazarus from the dead, after he had been dead for four days!
Women on Palm Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
Just days (likely two) prior to the Passover, fulfilling prophecy, a woman anoints Jesus’ head with expensive ointment as a token of his burial. Jesus declares that wherever the gospel is preached what this woman did should be told as well (Matthew 26: 6-13).
Although, Palm Sunday with Jesus’ Triumphal entry, Monday when Jesus cleanses the temple, Wednesday when Jesus teaches through parables, and Thursday’s last supper meal don’t particularly mention women, it is almost certain they were there. Not only were they at least present, but likely helping, witnessing, praising, and remembering the doctrine taught. A few of the parables and teachings this week highlight women. For example, the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25); the signs of the second coming that “two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one taken and the other left;” and teachings on marriage (Matthew 22).
Women At the Time of the Trial
After having a dream about Jesus, Pilates’ wife plead with Pilate to not have anything to do with him. (Matthew 27:19)
“At the palace of the high priest a maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him and said, This man also was with him. And he denied saying Women I know him not.” (Luke 22:56-57)
Women Before, During and After the Crucifixion
As Jesus carried the cross to Calvary women followed him lamenting him and Jesus turned and spoke to them warning them of the hard times ahead (Luke 23:27-31). (The artwork of this event is pictured at the beginning of this post.)
Four women at the cross are mentioned in John: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). Mark adds one additional named women and writes of many other women beholding the death of Jesus: “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and Joses, and Salome; who also when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.” (Mark 15: 40-41) While it is impossible to know what number “many” implies, it certainly isn’t a couple (two) or a few (three). Interestingly, much of the artwork of these events, illustrate “many” as between eight and eleven, however it could have been more.
Jesus looks to the needs of his mother, in his final hour on the cross. (John 19:26-27)
Women were there when Jesus’ body was taken off the cross and laid in the sepulchre. “And the women also, which came from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55-56). Look at how many women are in the following art!
Women Easter Sunday Morning
Easter morning the women came to the sepulchre, found it empty and saw and heard angels declaring Christ was risen. They returned to tell the disciples. Specific women mentioned are Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them. (Luke 24: 1-11) Salome is also mentioned in Mark (Mark 16:1).
In Matthew’s account both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary see Jesus as they left the tomb. “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, “Jesus met them, saying All hail. And they came and held him by the feet and worshiped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: Go tell thy brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” (Matthew 28:8-10)
In the gospel of John, Mary is the first to the empty tomb. After returning with Peter to the empty tomb she lingers and sees the angels and then the resurrected Jesus (John 20: 11-19).
Can Knowing about the Women of Holy Week help us Today?
Women today can remember Jesus more as they focus on the events of Holy Week and the women in those events. Like these ancient women, we can be women who want to be where Christ is, who witness miracles, are a part of miracles and who raise our voices in joyful praise and testimony of the Savior of the World. What would happen if we spoke of these scriptural women of Holy Week more? Would we appreciate their discipleship, sacrifice and dedication more? Would reflecting on their faith increase our own? Let us recognize the good they did, the vital role they played, the love and compassion they possessed, the work, thought and effort they engaged in, the fearless faith they fostered, the tenderness they exhibited, the joy they experienced, and then let us go and do likewise.
Especially during Holy Week and as we extend the Easter season we can follow the example of the women of Holy Week, by giving glory to Jesus, remembering Him and finding joy and peace in His glorious gospel. His gospel truly is the good news. I know He is the Son of God, and the Savior of the World. I have felt His power and love in my life and I have seen His power and love change other’s lives. More times than I can count I have felt the witness of the Spirit clearly say Jesus is who He says He is. He is the Resurrection and the Life. His way is the path of happiness and peace.
Thank you women of Holy Week and the Christian women of today who proclaim this good news! He is risen! Indeed He is!