The Significance of Women in the Gospel of Luke.
Discuss The Significance of Women in the Gospel of Luke.
The Significance of Women in the Gospel of Luke
The Bible, in its entirety, is centered on patriarchy in the expression of its major events. Nevertheless, no bigger an event has been recorded in the Bible that gave birth to Christianity than the life of Jesus Christ. Throughout the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, on the accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, none stands out more than the gospel of Luke. According to the Lucan account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Luke has a massive representation of women playing significant roles, as they became disciples; Luke’s account shows women were financiers of Jesus’ ministry; women were healed and forgiven; women became partners in the mission of Jesus Christ, and women became the first witnesses in the resurrection of Christ.
Women During the Narrative of the Birth of Jesus
During the birth of Jesus Christ, the two most significant women were Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and Elizabeth the mother to John the Baptist, cousin to Mary, and aunt to Jesus.
Elizabeth, Mother to John the Baptist
As a wife to the priest Zechariah, Elizabeth faced much scrutiny from the public, especially fellow priests who ridiculed and looked down on Zechariah for having a barren wife. This meant that there would be no heir from Elizabeth’s old age, whom society wished to be a son, to the priesthood lineage in Zechariah’s family. This is just one example of the Bible’s patriarchy, as society saw men as more important to women. When the Holy Spirit honors Elizabeth’s cry for a son, she rejoices and highlights the issue of bareness in the Jewish society (Luke 1:24-25, 1:41-45). According to Judaism, barrenness was seen as a shame upon a family. With emphasis to Zechariah’s priesthood, the eventuality of having a son ensured that the priesthood lineage would be passed on in the family and the son, who would grow to be John the Baptist, would bring honor to the household (Sumney, 2014). According to the Lucan account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Elizabeth’s reaction to the news of her having a son in her old age tells of the story of a “blameless” woman (Luke 1:6). The conception of John the Baptist by Elizabeth at her tender age is a clear story of encouragement to women who seem to have a problem with bearing children. The conception of John highlights that even in despair, God’s promise is still alive, and He never forgets those to whom He has made a promise. The story of Elizabeth also highlights that faith and trust in God are important (Constable, 2019). Before she conceived of John the Baptist, Elizabeth was faithful in prayer and trusted that God would grant her a child in His time. That same faith is what individuals should attain to have, knowing that children are a gift from God.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ
According to the Lucan account, Mary, the mother of Jesus, might be the most significant woman in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first lesson of significance that one can learn from Mary is humility, trust, and faith. When archangel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces that she will bear a son who will be the Saviour promised to humankind, she takes this announcement with a faith-like belief (Luke 1:38). Although she was a virgin and knew that this would disgrace her and her fiancé, Joseph, she accepts the will of God. After accepting God’s will of bearing a son as a virgin, Mary goes on to praise God in the Magnificant, where she is portrayed as a blameless and God-fearing woman (Sumney, 2014). The fact that she knew she would soon bear the Saviour of humankind, Mary is humble in the Magnificant, as she describes her low status in society that God would choose her to carry such a blessing to the world than people in power and high in society (Luke 1:48, 52). One can learn that God sees beyond material wealth and looks for the ready in spirit to serve Him and the humble at heart.
According to Luke’s account, through the Magnificant, Mary shows readers of her story humility, worship, and reverence to God. With the realization that she is to be a mother yet a virgin, any other person in her position would freak out. Most individuals would think of the public shame, the point in which one could be abandoned and left as a single mother, or just the discrimination and ridicule from people around (Sumney, 2014). Instead, Mary is quick to acknowledge God’s grace in her life for selecting her instead of anyone else (Luke 1:52). Mary glorifies God for letting her be a “servant” in His work to the world (Luke 1:48). She is quick to acknowledge what God has done for her (Constable, 2019). From the Magnificant, one can see that God’s will should be above all. One also learns that God will use those in society that are downcast and neglected to bring His glory in the world (Sumney, 2014). Ultimately, the story of Mary’s conception of Christ shows that humility, trust, and faith are essential in carrying out God’s word and His work; because many in society might find it all peculiar, but trusting in God assures that walking in His righteous path sets one apart to be glorified amid ridicule.
Women in Jesus’ Ministry
There are several women in Jesus’ ministry that Luke is quick to mention that had a significant impact on the Lucan account of the gospel of Christ. These women like the widow of Nain, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, women who were healed, and women who supported Jesus’ ministry financially.
The Widow of Nain
The Widow of Nain is significant in showing that there is the restoration of family through God’s word. The Lucan account of the story in Luke 7:11-17 depicts the widow who loved her only son dearly. As was the custom of Judaism, the widow is socially isolated from the rest of the community. However, after Jesus raises her son from the dead, she is accepted back into society with her family restored. The story of the widow of Nain shows that joy and hope can be restored to a person (Sumney, 2014). The thought that her only son was gone showed that her lineage would die with her, but through the restoration back to life, the widow was assured that her family’s legacy would continue.
The Woman who Anointed Jesus’ Feet
From Luke 7:36-50, one reads of the story of the woman who sought to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, dry them with her hair, and anoint her with the best perfume that she had on her. According to the Pharisees, the woman was regarded as sinful who was not allowed where people gathered to talk about religion or God. Although the Pharisees are quick to judge her and proclaim her sins that because Jesus touched her, he is also unclean, Jesus is in her defense and forgives her. According to this story in the gospel of Luke, it shows that the woman is significant in ensuring that Jesus did not come for the teachers of the law and forgive each of us of our sins (Sumney, 2014). The woman’s significance is paramount in assuring that even amongst the teachers of the word of God, there is a need for humility without judgment. It further emphasizes that within each of us is a sinful nature that needs to be cleansed, only through Jesus’ forgiveness. Humility comes from a contrite heart and not the social status of one knowing the word of God.
Women Healed by Jesus
According to Luke, the bleeding woman is the most significant woman that Jesus healed in the Lucan account of the gospel. In Luke 8:42-48, Luke accounts for the story of a woman driven by faith to get healed. Although she had a bleeding dilemma for up to 12 years, the woman was considered a pariah of society who would not interact or be seen amongst people. When she is healed from touching Jesus’ garment, she is not rebuked by Jesus; rather, he commends to her that because of her faith, she has been healed (Constable, 2019). The significance of this is that the coming of Jesus assures people that God’s blessings will fall upon one at the time of need. The importance of faith is highlighted in her determination through desperation driven by the faith that she will be healed.
Secondly is the woman that Jesus heals on the Sabbath as per Luke’s account in Luke 13:10-17. This healing miracle performed on the Sabbath brought up controversy with teachers of the law who deemed the Sabbath holy. Jesus reiterates that a person’s health is more important than attending church service (Sumney, 2014). Therefore, by healing the woman, Jesus demonstrates that, as individuals, it is important to cater to people in the community when in need than letting them be because of attending a church service (Constable, 2019). Controversy ensued around Jesus’ healing of the woman on the Sabbath; however, his actions are in line with what God commands from His people to always be there for people in society as a priority.
Women who Served in Jesus’ Ministry
Throughout the gospel of Luke, women are accounted for contributing to the ministry and serving as disciples. In Luke 8:1-3, there is an account of three women who supported Jesus’ ministry financially. Luke 10: 38-42 shows that Jesus did not discriminate against gender when it came to discipleship and service to God. While women in the time of Jesus’ ministry were taught to be managers of homes, Mary and Martha, amongst some who are unmentioned, stand out as a servant to the ministry (Sumney, 2014). The significance to Mary and Martha as servants of the word of God shows that Christianity does not discriminate against gender; rather, it promotes the need to always see everyone as an equal (Constable, 2019). This is important as the ministry of the gospel demands humility, trust, and faith in God’s word.
The Widow, who was Persistent
Luke’s account of the persistent woman in Luke 18:1-8 who seeks justice from a judge through her persistence in prayer is significant in Jesus’ ministry. The widow believer vehemently that justice should be served and pray that although the situation is against her, justice will come in God’s way. Her persistence in acknowledging God as the central point of her faith shows the lesson that as a believer, prayer should not be occasional, and rather it should be intentional and purposed (Sumney, 2014). The widow is an example to follow in ensuring that prayer through persistence is important in the Christian walk.
The Poor Woman at the Synagogue
In one of His teachings at the synagogue, Luke notes that Jesus observed a woman who offers her only two coins as offering compared to rich men who offer boastfully, according to Luke 21:1-4. Jesus is quick to commend the woman that she gave everything she had, not out of the abundance of what she has, but from her heart. This explains that, as Christians, individuals are bound to give out of a humble heart than a prideful boast (Constable, 2019). Therefore, the story of the poor woman is important in teaching people about humility over pride.
Women who Witnessed Jesus’ Resurrection
Luke points out that women were seen at the crucifixion of Christ in Luke 23:27, 49. Women are also seen preparing spices that would anoint Jesus’ body before He was placed in the tomb in Luke 23:55-56. Upon His resurrection, women were the first to witness that Jesus’ tomb was empty, according to Luke 24:1-3. When the angels conveyed the message that Jesus’ body was not stolen, but He had resurrected, women were the first to tell the disciples of His resurrection in Luke 24:9-11. The significance of this is that women were given a bigger role than playing house manager in the gospel of Luke (Sumney, 2014). Ultimately, Luke saw women as good examples of the early church.
According to Judaism that was dominant during the time of Jesus Christ, women depicted women as low in society. However, the Lucan depiction of the life of Jesus Christ is a little bit different from the other three, as Luke includes women as a major significant part of the life and journey of Jesus, from His birth, life, miracles, death, crucifixion, and resurrection. This gave women a more important role as Luke’s account shows women healed and forgiven; women as financiers of the Jesus’ ministry; women were healed and forgiven; women became partners in the mission of Jesus Christ, and women became the first witnesses in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, women should be held in high regard as good examples of the early church.
Barker, K. L., & Burdick, D. W. (2002). Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.
Constable, Dr. T. L. (2019). Luke. Retrieved September 18, 2019, from Planobiblechapel.org website: https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/luke/luke.htm
Sumney, J. L. (2014). The Bible: An Introduction, Second Edition. Fortress Press.