BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER
As I study the life of Jesus in the Gospels, I’m intrigued and energized to witness his interactions with women. He holds them in higher regard than what was customary for his time. For all the times that he blesses them, heals them, and forgives their sins, it seems that he’s also receiving as much encouragement, wisdom, and soul care from women. Women play many essential and influential roles in the life and teachings of Jesus.
Even so, the traditions of the church have historically excluded women from many essential and influential roles. Grace Church graciously invites women to serve at the same pastoral levels as men, and I am incredibly grateful for that. But very recently, the public eye has witnessed sentiments from other prominent male pastors regarding the exclusion of women from important pastoral roles. I often wonder how anyone who continues to support these traditions interprets Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mark 7:9, ""You skillfully sidestep God's law in order to hold on to your own tradition.”
I understand that Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically about the tradition of excluding women from religious roles, but this general statement applies broadly. Look at the way Jesus regarded women, and you will see God’s intent. Jesus reluctantly performed his first public miracle at the wise insistence of His mother. Jesus and His disciples were financially supported by a group of women—which included the wife of Herod’s business manager. He often taught His disciples through His interactions with women, both Jewish and Gentile. And after His resurrection, He sent a woman to tell everyone the news.
Although Jesus was radically inclusive of women, some women found it difficult to break away from the hard-baked social norms of the time—and that’s still true even today. I feel so blessed to belong in a community that values the voice of women. I don’t want to shut my mouth and go home, because I crave sitting at the feet of Jesus as a disciple and then sharing the pearls of wisdom He gives me with the world. So when Martha asked Him to send her sister Mary away to help in the kitchen, I’m eternally grateful that Jesus said she would stay.
Questions for Reflection
Study the following Scriptures: John 2:1-12, Luke 8:1-3, Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 15:21-28, Luke 10:38-42, John 20:11-18. What stands out to you? What other Scriptures about Jesus’ interactions with women can you find?
In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman named Sophia. In what ways does Jesus live out the wisdom described in the proverbs?
In Matthew 12:50, Jesus states, “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” What are the implications of this truth?