Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.-Luke 8:1-3
Much criticism has been aimed at the Christian Church in modern years for its treatment of women. The complaints are that women are treated as 2nd class citizens. Women suffer inequality such as the prohibition of women serving as pastors or priests or other authoritative offices in the church.
Jesus loved women as he loved men and children. There was no difference. Our text reminds us of how many women Jesus helped. It also reminds us of the love of the women for Jesus. This was not a romantic love, as some evil imaginations have suggested. Jesus was not married to Mary Magdalene or to anyone else. The women loved Jesus because of how he had helped them in their lives. Their love was expressed in their support of Jesus “from their substance.” Some of these women were women of substance, and they contributed liberally to Jesus’ care and support. Would these sometimes wealthy and influential women support Jesus like this if they believed him to be a misogynist?
The list in our text is far from complete. Luke 8 also tells the story of Jesus raising the little twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus. It also tells the story of the healing of a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. There’s the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John 8: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.” Add the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). In Luke 7 a “sinful woman” (generally recognized as a prostitute), interrupted Jesus’ supper with the Pharisees and anointed his feet with perfumed oil. Jesus was roundly condemned for “eating with many tax collectors and sinners” (Mark 2:15)- probably a reference to prostitutes.
Women are also afforded highest honors in the New Testament. A woman, Mary, brought God’s Son into the world in human flesh. That is an unequaled honor among all mankind. The women are presented as most faithful disciples of Christ. Mother Mary was standing at the foot of the cross, absent the apostles, except for one, John. It is the women who took note where Jesus was buried. It is the women who first came to the empty tomb on Easter morning. It is the women who found the hiding apostles and proclaimed to them the Easter morning empty tomb.
True, Jesus did not appoint women among his twelve apostles. It was not a matter of personal quality, or giftedness, or intelligence. It was only reflective of the order of God. Order does not imply superiority or inferiority. The fact that one was an apostle did not set him above other people. Jesus made that clear, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:11,12).
Yes, Jesus loved women as he loved all people. Let’s put out of our minds any suggestion that, starting with Jesus, the Bible treats women as 2nd class. It is not only untrue, but it is a divisive, false doctrine hurled at the church by her harshest critics.
Jesus mistreated women? No. Read your Bible and take note of the many interactions between Jesus and women. The truth will be clear.
Lord God, help your church today to love, recognize, and value women after the example of Christ Jesus. Amen.