Okay, I just loved the pink-ness of this poster and the little teapot, well, the sentiment too, actually.
I wish there were a way to make this look like a more scintillating read, but alas, many Bible verses. Here’s the thing though, Jesus blasted onto the scene and unequivocally changed the way women were treated, their role in the church and society, and their status as equal to men. Did that make her a man? Course not, silly, but it did firmly remove her from under the thumb of a man and opened up a great big world to her. He placed her (again) next to man in equal standing before God- not under a husband nor father- in a pyramid scheme to her Savior.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus came and was willing to speak with a strange woman in public, He was willing to heal a woman on the Sabbath, He taught that a woman could be more than a wife and mother if she desired that, He believed women had the right to receive religious teaching and training and to be disciples, He taught that a mother too ought to be honored by her children, He highly esteemed women’s testimony and witness, He took the sign of the covenant- that until then had been restricted to men only- and offered it to females through baptism- a bloodless sign for male and female. Woman were now allowed the sign of the covenant.
For Jewish women in the first century A.D. their world was their home. “A woman’s sphere of influence or importance in the legal sense was confined to her connection to her family, her faithfulness to her husband, and her domestic responsibilities… One must bear in mind the extraordinary patria potestas a father had over his daughters and a husband over his wife… A woman was passed from a father to her husband’s sphere of authority usually without being consulted.” (Women in the Ministry of Jesus- Ben Witherington III) . Judaism restricted women’s participation in religious functions. Women could not make up the quorum in the synagogue nor could they receive the covenant sign. Jesus came and granted women together with men equal rights to participate fully.
He accepted women as His disciples and traveling companions.
*”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 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmitie- Mary called Magdalene out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.”Luke 8:1-4
The women who made up this company were not all single; Joanna was married and yet was able to travel with Jesus. Single women and married women- both- were able to leave the home front and travel with Jesus and be His disciples.
*”Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much service and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.'”
Jesus answers Martha’s plea for help in the kitchen by telling her that was not the important work. He was gently teaching her to reorient her traditional role and focus on her faith.
“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Martha and Mary were his disciples and that is the work He considered more important than doing the dishes- right then in real time- keeping house, making dinner was secondary to these women’s role as Jesus’ disciples.
*”At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.” Acts 9:36
These needs are included to show that, in fact, not all women were home cleaning the house, some women were out with the men hearing things preached:
* “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.” Acts 17:2-4
*Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.Acts 17:10-12
* “However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Acts 17:34
Women were prophetesses and teachers of men.
*”… Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.” Acts 21:9
Folks, we have not one, but four prophetesses in one little house. And a woman teaching a man too:
*”Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Acts 18:24-26
And Luke, as if to drive the point straight home, gives us examples that for the Jews of that day, would have been better told using men but instead Luke refers to women as “the house of”:
* “And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.” Acts 16:13-15
* “So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.” Acts 16:40
*“After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.” Acts 18:1-3
Another important role that women had in Jesus’ day was that of a valid witness:
* The Queen of the South on judgement day will appear in court as a key witness for the prosecution- and her witness will be accepted as decisive testimony.Rabbinic judaism of the day would not have accepted her testimony, but Jesus does. “The Queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.” Mtt. 12:42
* The woman at the well in John 4: 39-40, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.”
And what an honor and a glory that women were the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection,
*“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”
And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.” Luke 24:1-12
Understand, these women and the fact that they are even mentioned as doing anything other than keeping house is monumental given the time and place, a patriarchal set up that kept women down. You can still read stuff like that on blogs and you can still hear sermons like that at patriarchal churches. But now you know better. Jesus came and raised woman up.
Being friends trumps Patriarch/Servant wife any day of the week.
“Submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
A huge thanks for Ben Witherington III for his writings on women. You can check out his credentials here.
Then buy his book on women here.