Woman in Jewish Religious Culture
The role of Jewish women in public life was minimized since it was a patriarchal society, although in some instances, the prophets of God had ministered to women and been ministered to by them. We see that in the story of Elisha and the Shunammite Woman (2 Kings 4:8-37) and also in the story of Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-16).
And in Jewish circles of the Pharisees and Sadducee, women seem to have had no significant impact. Generally, women neither received direct attention nor made a great contribution. But this was not so in the ministry of Jesus where women had an important role.
Luke and the Ministry of Women
Among the four gospels, the gospel of Luke specifically alluded to the women that were associated with Christ’s ministry. Luke wrote about the many details of the early life of Jesus, such as—Mary, Elisabeth, and Anna. He also recorded about the widow of Nain, the woman at Simon’s feast, Martha, the crippled woman, Jairus’ daughter and the sick woman healed on the same occasion.
And in the book of Acts, Luke wrote about Sapphira, Priscilla, Drusilla, Berenice, Tabitha, Rhoda, Lydia, and other women. In so doing, he wanted to give the message that kingdom of heaven is as much for women as for men. He elaborated on the essential work of women in advancing the kingdom of God on earth and preparing souls for eternity.
The Women That Ministered to Christ
The Bible tells us that, “certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene… and Joanna the wife of Chuza… and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:2,3).
With the Second Galilean Tour, the needs of Christ’s ministry grew rapidly, and the group of men that traveled with Christ grew in number compared with the group who had been on the first tour. This without doubt meant more expense and work in providing food, clothing and other needs.
Christ never did miracles to relieve His own needs (Matthew 4:6); for this was against what He taught. Jesus and the disciples were in full time ministry and had no time even to eat or sleep (Mark 3:7–12, 20). Therefore, the woman ministered to Him in accordance to the principle of “the workman is worthy of his meat” (Matthew 10:10).
These compassionate women offered their resources and assistance. Jesus and His disciples had a common purse (John 13:29; Luke 12:6), and these kind women helped keep the purse full. Thus, they were seen as the first women’s missionary society of the early believers.
Not only that but these women were close to Christ at His crucifixion and burial. They stood by Him during His suffering hours on the cross. And at His death, they were the ones that prepared spices and burial ointments to anoint His dead body. “Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
After the resurrection, they were the ones that reported the news of the risen Savior to the disciples: “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles” (Luke 24:10). It was the strong testimony of the women that ignited the hope of the saddened disciples and strengthened their faith. The ministry of these woman was a true fruit of the Holy Spirit.
In His service,