Every Christians wants to be used by God to bring honor to Christ, but many Christians don’t know where to begin. They come to church and look around at all the ministries, but they’re not sure where or how they might serve. They don’t know what their gifts are, and in many cases they have not been trained to use them well. In some churches, especially churches near seminaries, many qualified people fill the most visible openings, and it might even seem like there aren’t any needs to fill or meaningful ways to serve. Does this mean that some disciples are destined to be relegated to the sidelines of ministry and only marginally honor Christ?
Two women in the New Testament refute such a notion: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph. These two women were used mightily by God, and they probably didn’t know it at the time. They only appear briefly in the crucifixion and burial narratives in Matthew 27, but they are of vital importance. After Matthew describes all the miraculous events surrounding Jesus’ death, he identifies “many women” who were witnesses to these events, including these two women named Mary. Later, in Matt 27:61, the two Marys are there again when Jesus is buried. The verse is so innocent a casual reader probably wouldn’t even notice it in the text. “And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.”
These two women most certainly had no idea how important their presence at these events would be. Why does Matthew bother to include these seemingly meaningless and extraneous details? The reason is because the most powerful proof of any claim in the ancient world was eye-witness testimony. Deut 19:15 says, “On the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” As Matthew chronicles the events surrounding Jesus’ death and burial, he is careful to identify key witnesses to confirm his testimony. Mary and Mary were no doubt motivated to observe these events not to establish a legal basis for believing they were historical events; they were motivated simply out of their love for Christ. Their love for Jesus compelled them simply to show up and follow Jesus wherever He went, even to the grave.
It’s fascinating that none of the disciples are named. None of the high-profile New Testament leaders were there. It was simply two women who had been transformed by Jesus’ love and loved Him in return. God used these two women in a mighty way, to provide unimpeachable evidence that the faith once for all delivered to the saints is not fiction but history.
Mary and Mary teach us one very important lesson: the first step in being used by God to honor Christ is simply to show up. Show up to Sunday school. Show up to corporate worship. Show up to prayer meetings. Show up to business meetings. Show up to the church potluck. Show up as often as you can. You don’t know how your presence among the saints might be used of God in ways you never imagined.
Do you want your life to count for the glory of Christ? Step one: Show up.