Oct 23, 2013

Influential New Testament Women

Matthew 28:1–10

"So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, 'Greetings!' And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him" (vv. 8–9).

Today we finish our brief look at some of the greatest men and women that we read about in the Bible by considering not just one individual but several. These individuals—all of them women—played vital roles in the life of Jesus, attending to His needs and receiving privileges that the rest of us can barely dream of.

Even a cursory reading of the gospels would reveal that women were a key part of Jesus' ministry. Surely it is not overstated to say that our Lord's mother, Mary, was the most blessed woman to have ever lived because she had the unique honor of giving birth to the Messiah and, alongside Joseph, raising Jesus to honor His heavenly Father (Luke 1–2). Then, of course, there were Mary and Martha, the sisters who were two of Christ's dearest friends (10:38–42). More than once, Jesus spent the night in Bethany, probably at the house where Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus lived (21:37; John 11:1).

What we should not miss when we read the four Gospels is that Jesus always treated women with the utmost respect. This was quite remarkable in His culture, which had adopted a relatively low view of women. For example, first-century Jews said women could not be trusted as witnesses in court. Women were encouraged to be seen and not heard. As proof of Christ's respect for women, our Savior regularly used the term gyne—"woman"—when He was addressing ladies in His life. Sometimes we read Christ speaking in this way and think He was being condescending. However, in that day, the term translated into English as "woman" was an address of respect roughly equivalent to our term ma'am. At the wedding Jesus and His family attended at Cana, our Lord addressed His mother with this respectful term (John 2). Yet Jesus did not give respect only to a woman such as His mother, who was an upstanding member of the community. He also used this word of respect when speaking with the woman at the well, who was an outcast because of her many illicit relationships (chap. 4). Christ did not join in the ostracism of this woman. Instead, He reached out to her, and many Samaritans came to believe in Him.

Space prevents us from looking at all the important women in Jesus' life. We conclude today by noting that the women alone were faithful to the end of our Lord's ministry, remaining with Him at the time of His death. Consequently, they had the unspeakable privilege of being the first witnesses to His resurrection (Matt. 27:32–28:10).

Coram Deo

According to His humanity, our Savior was often sustained by the ministrations of faithful women who loved Him more than their own lives. We have an opportunity to minister to Jesus today, not directly as these women did, but indirectly by helping out His body the church. As we care for one another, especially those who minister for His sake full time, we are showing love and concern for our Savior. May we love one another and meet the needs of God’s people (Matt. 25:31–46).

For Further Study