Friday, April 21, 2023
Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
Over the years, whenever I have spoken on these verses and their parallels,  many people are surprised to learn that a group of Galilean women supported Jesus' ministry financially and encouraged Him by their presence.  Several different women anointed Jesus, extravagantly honoring Him.  Jesus blessed many women by personally ministering to them.  A group of women remained faithful to Jesus during His horrific death and burial when the men abandoned, denied, and betrayed Him.  Jesus also gave some women the responsibility to be the first to declare His resurrection.  Some of these women were present as the disciples were praying at Pentecost when Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit.  Reminded of these examples, some have remarked: "Oh yes, I do remember these now!" So my question related to our relationships in Christ is this: Why do we not remember the vital role played by women in Jesus' ministry more readily, and why do we not encourage women to follow their example today? Hmm!"
All four gospels stressed the presence of faithful women during the Lord's Passion.  Even when the men grew frightened, then abandoned Jesus and hid in a locked room, they continued to follow Him and bore witness the horrific events of the cross.  As is typical of John, the fourth gospel emphasizes things in detail that other gospels omit. In this case, John's gospel stressed the importance of women we don't find mentioned in three other gospels — the woman at the well,  the Samaritan woman,  and the vital connection between Martha and Mary with their brother Lazarus and their faith in Jesus. 
What are we to make of this? I believe the New Testament stresses several realities of our Christian faith directly tied to women: 
Amazingly, Jesus is never accused of abusive or sexually immoral behavior with a woman by His critics. The Lord Jesus left us an example of non-sexualized and non-abusive friendship and ministry partnership with women in His family of believers.
As we journey ahead and look at healthy and proper relationships in God's family, the Lord's example must play a significant role in helping us know how to treat and value people of both genders, all backgrounds, and all ages. Godly men and women need each other to live productive lives while passionately displaying the Kingdom of God!
Loving Father, I know the problems with sexual morality in our world and in Your churches break your heart. Please help us be wise in treating each other as men and women. Open our eyes to Your Scriptures to see how women and men played a vital role in Your unfolding story of redemption in every era, regardless of the freedoms and roles allowed in culture. Thank you for Jesus, Your model of godliness in all relationships. Thank You, Jesus, for valuing people of each gender, every race, and any social standing. Help us empower each of Your disciples to serve You with dignity, appreciation, and support. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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