The month of March is designated as “Women’s History Month,” designed to celebrate “women’s contributions to history, culture and society.”
This month long celebration is highlighted on March 8th as “International Women’s Day” a global holiday to focus on and bring attention to various women’s issues.
Interestingly, this has spawned a good deal of conversation in religious circles about the role of women in the church.
Notably making news is the Saddleback Church and its previous pastor, Rick Warren, for hiring a female teaching pastor last year. As a result, Saddleback was disfellowshipped from the Southern Baptist Association.
While this has sparked spirited responses both pro and con, little scripture has been given that specifically addresses the issue. While this post is not really about female pastors and preachers speaking in the public assembly, you can find the answers in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
Our passage today, however, points out the prominent role of women in Jesus’ ministry.
Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.
Three women are specifically identified in the text. Mary Magdalene, mentioned several times in scripture, served as a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. She also was among those who arrived at the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. While some say she had been a prostitute and seek to identify her as the woman in Luke 7:36-50, there is no biblical evidence to support that claim.
Joanna, was also at Jesus’ tomb on resurrection morning. Her husband, Chuz, held a responsible position for Herod Antipas as steward or administrator. But it’s Joanna who’s cited for her faithful discipleship.
The third woman, Suzanna, is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. But she, along with the “other women” who accompanied Jesus and the disciples were obviously women of deep spirituality, great faith, and continuing commitment.
In Colly Caldwell’s commentary on Luke, he correctly observes that “women played important supporting roles in the life of Christ.” He names several specifically, including Elizabeth, Mary, Anna, as well as the sisters Mary and Martha. Others are referred to, but unnamed. The widow of Nain. The sinful, but repentant woman. Peter’s mother-in-law. The widow’s mite. The women at the cross. And the women at Jesus’ tomb.
Some have unfairly vilified Christianity as suppressing and degrading women. The opposite is true. The Bible teaches that we are “one in Christ.” Both male and female (Gal. 3:26-29). The gospel of Christ, recognizes and exalts the God-given role of women in the home, church and society in general. This was a revolutionary idea in the 1st century Roman world where women had no rights.
It’s interesting to note that these women not only followed and ministered to Jesus, but financially supported His work. How did they earn money? We’re not told. But the Bible notes other women of means like Mary in Acts 12, who hosted a prayer meeting in her home and employed a maid. And Lydia a business woman (Acts 16:14-15).
“Other women” who ministered included Phoebe, “a servant of the church” (Rom. 16:1-2), Philip’s four virgin daughters who prophesied, (Ax. 21:9), and Priscilla, “a fellow-worker in Christ” who along with her husband Aquila, was engaged in tent-making and assisting in teaching Apollos “the way of God more accurately” (Ax. 18:2-3,26).
It’s unfortunate that our current conversation is too often focused on scriptural prohibitions regard women’s public roles, instead of focusing on the numerous opportunities women have to minister in the Lord’s work.
It’s been my observation and experience in 50 years of local church work that the female members have been some of the most faithful, dedicated and hard-working disciples. If you want something done, seek out one of the sisters, and she’ll get the ball rolling.
Today women are finding more and more opportunities to teach through blogs, lectureships, writing books, workshops, marriage seminars, and retreats. Only God knows the good that our sisters are accomplishing through these various means.
Not only are there many Christian women who are Physicians, but think of those who are Lawyers, Teachers, Principals, Counselors, Engineers, Business Managers, and Pharmacists. And many more occupations. All of these are shining their Christian light in their various professions, making a difference in the world, and all the while serving the Lord.
Certainly, this post is not intended to devalue those women who’ve decided to work from home as “Domestic Engineers.” Some of the greatest and most important work done is by wives and mothers who are managing the home, teaching their children (often through home-schooling), supporting their husbands, and ministering for the Lord, often behind the scenes.
Recognize, celebrate, and honor good and godly women, not just in March, but throughout the year.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
3 responses to “Luke 8:1-3”
Another brilliant article. Thanks
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