In ancient Israel, women were considered to be members of the “family of faith”. Men, as head of the family, presented the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the entire family (Lev 1:2), but the wife could also be present.
Women attended the Feast of Tabernacles (Deut 16:14), the yearly Feast of the Lord (Judg 21:19-21), and the Festival of the New Moon (2Kings 4:23). Women could enter into most of the areas of worship.
But by the time of Christ, the view of women had changed. Jewish women were no longer active in Temple or synagogue worship. They were often put into inferior and subservient roles. This was not something God said to do; this was the result of human works.
The Jewish Temple of Jesus’ day had both ethnic and male/female class separations. There were six different places to worship. There was an outer court for Gentiles; a restricted Court of Women, where women could listen but not speak; a Court of Israel for male Jews; a court for the priests; the Holy Place; and the Holy of Holies.
A popular Jewish saying was, “Thank God that I am neither a Gentile, a slave, nor a woman.” It was commonly taught that women were not smart enough to receive religious instruction. A rabbi (religious leader) could not speak to a woman in public, even if she was his wife or his sister!
This surely must have grieved the heart of God, seeing half of His beloved creation put down, left out and oppressed.
But Jesus burst upon this gloomy scene, casting a bright new light on God’s intended purpose for women in His Kingdom.
WHAT DID JESUS THINK OF WOMEN?
At a time when ministry teams that combined men and women were not allowed by the religious leaders, Jesus welcomed several women into His team of traveling ministries (Luke 8:1-3).
Also in Luke 8 (vs. 43-48) we read of an outcast, unclean woman. She is poor, weak, and afraid. Yet Jesus responded to her faith, spoke to her as His daughter, and healed her!
Jesus encouraged Martha and Mary to sit at His feet and to learn and be discipled (Luke 10:38-42). He considered them among His close friends (John 11:5).
Jesus’ respect and concern for women was something strikingly new. His attitude was very different from other Jewish men of His time. His view of women was especially different from the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees.
ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS
Through Christ’s redemptive work, ALL of the partitions have been broken down. EVERY BELIEVER, regardless of race, sex or other distinction, now has EQUAL access to God. “For He Himself is our peace, Who has made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation” (Eph 2:14).
In Jesus, all divisions have been smashed between Jew and Gentile, between men and women, and between priests and laymen (Rev 1:6).
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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” (Gal 3:27,28). Hallelujah!
WOMEN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
MARY: CHOSEN VESSEL
Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a good and godly woman. She was a person of incredible faith in God. How else could she have responded in such a beautiful song of praise and trust after such a bewildering announcement? (See Luke 1:26-55).