Introduction: As I was thinking about this lesson, I was tempted to skip vs. 1-3 and go to the parable of the sower. But as I did some research on these ladies, it seemed that someone needed to stand up for the women. I believe Luke was the primary NT writer who did that.
I. Women in Luke’s gospel
A. Luke mentions women (37.5% of the individuals mentioned) more than any other evangelist.
B. There are forty-three references to women in Luke’s Gospel, and of the twelve widows mentioned in the Bible, Luke has three (Luke 2:36–40; 7:11–15; 21:1–4; and note 18:1–8).
C. Luke mentions women (37.5% of the individuals mentioned) more than any other evangelist.
D. Luke takes every opportunity to demonstrate the important roles played by women in his story of Jesus and his kingdom. The number of important women in Luke is greater than in the other Gospels combined.
E. Talbert (1982: 90) compiled an impressive list of references to women in Luke’s Gospel (an asterisk indicates an account unique to Luke):
- Elizabeth (1:5–7, 13, 24–25, 36, 40–45, 56–61)
- Mary (1:26–56)
- Anna (2:36–38)
Peter’s mother-in-law (4:38–39; Matt 8; Mark 1)
- widow of Nain (7:11–17)
- sinful woman (7:36–50)
- women who minister (8:1–3)
hemorrhaging woman (8:43–48; Matt 9; Mark 5)
- Martha and Mary (10:38–42)
- crippled woman (13:10–17)
- parable of the woman with lost coin (15:8–10)
- parable of widow and judge (18:1–8)
widow’s mite (21:1–4; Mark 12)
women at the crucifixion (23:49, 55–56; all four)
women at the tomb (24:10–11; all four)
- report of women at the tomb (24:22–24)
F. Most references to women in Luke’s Gospel are not only positive, but seem to be crafted to break stereotypes and to cast women as equal with men in those qualities which count in Christ’s kingdom.
G. Women never accompanied a rabbi and his band of disciples. While many rabbis allowed women to study Torah to an extent, their becoming part of the inner circle of disciples was unheard of. Equally startling is the make-up of the central trio. Mary of Magdala came from a small, unimportant town and had been exorcised of “seven demons”; yet she is mentioned before Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward. The prominence of the former (she is always first in Luke’s lists) further demonstrates the reversal of status in Jesus’ new order. The three named are merely representative of the “many other” women (v 3) who accompanied Jesus and “supported him with their own money.” It was not unusual for women to support rabbis but unheard of to participate in the mission. Jesus broke several barriers in his acceptance and use of women.
II. Some possible conclusions
A. Men and women are equal in the Kingdom
1. Galatians 3.28
2. Equality means the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges
B. Jesus did not condone the social rules concerning women; instead he disapproved of them and tried to change them
C. Women can do anything men can do in the church (feminism)
III. What is Luke trying to tell us?
1. According to social norms the proper place for Martha and Mary was in the kitchen
2. “Mary has made the better choice.”
3. Spiritual things come ahead of physical things for both men and women
B. Luke mentions prophetesses
1. Miriam, Deborah, Huldah (2), Noadiah, Isaiah’s wife, Anna, Philip’s daughters
2. But no women usurp male authority in Luke/Acts
3. It is certain that Jesus continued to reserve the place of leadership for men even in Luke, the most out spoken proponent of women’s rights.
C. Social customs can be changed, but social change is in 2nd place to spiritual development
Conclusion: Look at the membership of the churches in Wichita, ours and others. The largest % is women. Most churches would die if the women were gone. We should honor them. I don’t have all the answers about women in Paul’s writings. I don’t believe he was a woman hater, like some say. I know that Jesus allowed women much more freedom than was typical of that time and culture. This needs much more study.