“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.” Luke 8:1-2
What an honor, privilege, and opportunity these women had to walk with Jesus, in the flesh, from town to town–serving him, experiencing miracles, witnessing to others, and continuing to learn from him along the way. But what a scandal! It was unheard of in first century Jewish culture for women to be taught by a rabbi. These women were not necessarily among the elite or influential of their time, either (see Luke 7:36-50).
But infirmity and transgression know no social boundaries. Neither did Jesus. He crossed those barriers. He treated all people equally. By doing so, he demonstrated their significance to the Kingdom.
These females may have come from diverse upbringings, but there was still a common thread that bound them: God valued them. Mary Magdalene is depicted in Luke 8:2 as having seven demons cast from her. Yet Jesus took her into his closest circle. She is reported in Matthew 27 and 28 to have witnessed his crucifixion and was first to discover his resurrection. Joanna, who was the wife of one of Herod’s officials, would have lived in extravagant surroundings, but nevertheless required some type of healing. Susanna is listed, and we know nothing about her, yet God redeemed and treasured her as well. These women didn’t wallow in inadequacies and limitations. They realized they were forgiven much, and they acknowledged their need and love for a Savior. Jesus accepted these women just as they were, but he didn’t leave them in that condition. He restored them to health.
Not unlike women’s involvement in modern day mission trips and various spiritual activities, these women arranged their daily routines and family duties to do whatever was required to aid in spreading the Good News. They may not have been in the forefront of Jesus’ ministry, but their tireless work for little recognition is an example we all can follow. These women remind us that effective service for Christ will eventually mean more than recognition by others.
Your faithful acts of service may not seem to be noticed. Or they may be noticed and devalued by others. But remember what Jesus told the woman whose actions precede this summary of women’s roles: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).