He continued according to plan, traveled to town after town, village after village, preaching God’s kingdom, spreading the Message. The Twelve were with him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company.
Luke 8: 1-3 The Message
The subject of women in the scriptures has been debated for centuries, and by many different denominations. There is no doubt that much of the history of the bible takes place around men, but we know that every man had a mother. Therefore we know that women were there, often in the background, but not heard.
This passage from Luke’s gospel is another confirmation for us of the important role played by women in Jesus’ ministry. While the twelve disciples accompanied Jesus as he went from village to village, women were also present in this roving band of followers. In fact, three of them are named, and the scripture states that there were “many others”. Some women may have physically and prayerfully supported this ministry by walking with their Lord. Other women apparently used their material resources to support the needs of the group, as they followed Jesus around, ministering all over Galilee.
This scripture may help correct some common assumptions about Jesus’ ministry. Many artists depict Jesus with only his twelve disciples, and no women in their paintings. We know this isn’t true. Jesus ministered to women through healing, both physical and spiritual. Through those acts, great friendships were built with women like Mary and Martha. Women were not mere spectators of Jesus’ ministry.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, and then after He ascended into heaven, women were included among the leaders of the early church. Some of their names include Priscilla, Lydia, Phoebe and Dorcas, yet I am certain there were more whose names do not appear in the bible.
Why does this matter? How might it enrich all of us, spiritually? It matters because every person, both male and female, is a child of God, equally created in the image of God. This vision of including both sexes as full participants in ministry is biblical:
“In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. “
Galatians 3:28 The Message
During this week when we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us remember and be inspired by the rich history of the women who have made a spiritual difference in our lives. Whether it is a mother, aunt, grandmother, a neighbor, Sunday School teacher or other women, thank God for each one of these Christian leaders. History does not provide us with every name of all those who helped grow the Christian Church, but Jesus knows every one by name. Let us give praise and thanks to the Lord for both the women, and the men, who have opened doors so that others can hear the word of the Lord.
Lord of all,
I thank You, Lord, for the gifts You give each one of us. I praise you that we are all uniquely different, yet we all are created in Your image. Forgive me when I doubt someone else's ability to minister, and think that I know better than You who can be used as Your vessel. Humble me, Lord, and help me to treat each person You have created like I want You to treat me.
I pray this prayer in Your Holy name. Amen.