“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, and also some women…” ~ Luke 8:1-2
While in Indonesia in 2008, I taught a series for women on “Women in the Life of Jesus.” In countries where women do not always feel valued or appreciated, or are treated in such a way that they believe their contribution doesn’t amount to much, even in the church, this particular teaching brings affirmation and joy to their hearts. Here’s a glimpse of our teaching and one-on-one personal time with the people God put in front of us.
Jesus was Radical.
When Jesus started His ministry, He called twelve men to be Apostles. As He began His work, He traveled about not only with male disciples—a common practice for a teacher or a Rabbi—but with women, too. In His day and culture, this was radical. But then Jesus flew in the face of His culture all the time.
Jesus included women on His team. Some of them were women He had healed of various ills, including demon possession. He addressed women in public when His culture didn’t permit an Orthodox Jew to even speak to his own wife while out and about. It is said that an Orthodox Jew would pray each morning, “I thank Thee God that I am not a slave, I am not a Gentile, and I am not a woman.” Yet Jesus always treated women with dignity and respect, using examples of women in His teaching and parables (always positive), as He taught along the way. This was the first for a teaching Rabbi, and He even allowed women to touch Him. (Even “those” sorts of women!) See Luke 7:36-50 and John 4:4-26. He doubtless was criticized for all of it.
The Bible says that some of the women mentioned in Luke 8:1-4 who traveled with Jesus were influential, prominent women who were “helping to support Him out of their own means.”
Jesus loved women as much as He loved men. He came to die for them and included them in His ministry. As far as He was concerned, women were worth creating, redeeming, gifting, and blessing. At Pentecost, there were women, along with the men, waiting for the Spirit in the upper room. They, too, shared in the Gospel in Jerusalem after the Spirit empowered them (Acts 2).
Women were first at His birth, last at His cross, first to see Jesus after He rose from the dead, and first to tell of His resurrection. It is my joy to tell women all over the world that there is a place at His side for them. He calls and equips us women for service—as in His day, so in ours. We too can travel with Jesus.
Women Are Good at Ministry
Women are good at ministry. Ministry above all is serving, and we know how to do that. Women are flexible and adaptable. They are nurturers. They manage and organize well, as a general rule. They are brave and courageous. The women who traveled with Jesus in those early days needed to be all these things and more. They never knew if there would be 20 people on the traveling team to house and feed, or 40! Would a particular day mean feeding just the team, or 5,000? They never knew. What challenges of faith and compassion, words or deeds awaited them on any given day? They would doubtless need to “multitask,” but women are good at that!
And what would they need to explain to the people who came for help to Jesus? Should they tell how they themselves met Jesus? What Jesus had done for them, for others? What had the last sermon they had heard Jesus give said about the authorities, the poor, the oppressed, prisoners, or rich people? They had to be careful what they said in some places or they could get the team or Jesus Himself into trouble. It was dangerous traveling with Jesus.
And not only did they need to lovingly serve and be available to them, as well as to Jesus and His disciples, but they would be able to share some of the stories they had heard Jesus tell, the teaching they heard along the way, or the good news that the King of the Kingdom had indeed come! There was forgiveness for sin and power to be transformed for all people! Both men and women they would tell—all who would listen!
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