Summary: Though women were often given background roles, the New Testament shows them heavily involve in advancing the mission of the church
Women play key parts in Biblical history. They include good and bad queens, righteous maids, praying mothers, powerful leaders, influential wives, generous givers, protitutes, prophets, deaconesses, gracious hosts, and faithful supporters and friends of Jesus.
IN such stories as Esther and Deborah, women take centre stage. Throughtout the Bible’s broad canvas, we can see how women with a mission have helped advance the kingdom of heaven in many ways.
Jesus specifically ministered to women on several occasions. When many of His disciples deserted Jesus at His death, women remained true and stayed with Him to the cross. Women were the first witnesses of His resurrection.
Let me just share with you some of the main points in order for us in todays world to understand the role of women in our mission as Christians.
1. BREAKING THE RULES
In the society in which Jesus lived and worked, women were largely kept out of public life. At Sabbath worship, they were mere onlookers, not participants. Like the Gentiles, women had a specially designated outer court at the synagogue, from which they could not stray. Significantly, it was located beneath the court for the men.
In public, men were restricted in how much they could talk to a woman, even their wives. Women were not allow to study the Torah; in fact they were not even allowed to touch the Scriptures, lest they contaminated them.
Jesus took a different approach. Women were His beloved children, just as much as men. His death covered them just as much as any male.
Although rabbis of the time were not permitted to teach women, Jesus happily did. On one occasion, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, sat at His feet like a pupil (Luke 10:38-42).
Prejudice against women entered every aspect of life. Men were allowed to divorce women, even for the most trivial offenses, but women weren’t allowed to divorce men, even for the most serious of offenses. Jesus had strong words to say about the current practice of divorce, which treated women as if they were objects owned by men (Matt 19:3-8).
In the space of two chapters in Luke, Jesus breaks the laws regarding contact with ceremonially unclean women. He touches a dead girl and restores her life (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55); allows a hemorrhaging woman to touch Him (Luke 8:43-48); and lets a woman of ill repute wash His feet (Luke 7:37-39).
This to show to you and me how God feels about the way in which every individuals should treat their fellow human being, whether male or female.
While He was on earth, Jesus broke down earthly, human barriers. As the apostle Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).
The question we need to answer is; What kind of prejudices are you still harbouring against any group?
2. THE WOMAN AT THE WELL 1
The division between Jews and Samaritans was long and bitter. If you would like to learn more about it just read their background and historical roots in (2 Kings 17:24-41) When the exiles returned from Babylon and attempted to rebuild Jerusalem’s temple and walls, the Samaritans tried to stop their work (Ezra 4:7-22 and Nehemiah 4:1-5). Incidents such as this, as well as the dispute over the true site for the temple, fueled hatred between both groups. On one occasion a group of people tried to insult Jesus by calling Him demon-possessed and a Samaritan (John 8:48).
The most direct and quickest route between Jerusalem in the south and Galilee in the north was through Samaria. However, when making this trip, people would often take a detour around Samaria dispite the inconvenient longer distance in order to avoid their long and bitter enemies.
In Luke 9:51-56, 10:30-37, 17:11-19; in these text you will find Christ attitudes towards Samaritans. It also tells us about what our attitudes toward those traditionally dispised by our own culture must be.
On more than one occasion the Gospel writers show Jesus traveling directly through Samaria. One time on His way from Judea to Galilee, He stopped at the Samaritan town of Sychar, the site of Jacob’s well and near Mt Gerizim, the holy place for Samaritans, the site of their temple. It was here that He had His famous exchange, not just with a Samaritan but a Samaritan woman (John 4).
Much to the woman’s surprise, He ask her if she could draw water for Him to drink. The request shocks her, because Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan and a woman!