Women in the Ministry of Christ

"And there were also women beholding from afar: among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him; and many other women that came up with him unto Jerusalem" (Mark 15:40-41).

 It is true, when you examine the pages of Scripture, that Jesus did not appoint any woman to serve in the capacity of an apostle during His earthly ministry. Spiritual headship in the kingdom of God has been assigned to males (1 Corinthians 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:8, 11-15). This does not mean, however, that the role God has given women is unimportant or unnecessary. What a needed part the women mentioned in the above Scripture had to play in Christ being able to fulfill His work as Savior! The term in the Greek translated minister, means to do anyone a service, care for someone's needs, and is an inferred service rendered, bringing advantage to others, to help. They offered real benefit to Christ.

 What are some of the ways they ministered to Jesus? Luke points out, "And Joanna the wife of Chuzas Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered unto them of their substance" (Luke 8:3). Those who had financial means helped support Jesus, that He could be free to fully carry out the will of God. There were no doubt other tasks they did to His benefit. Mark mentions the concern certain of them had with His crucifixion, and of making sure His body was properly prepared for burial (Mark 15:47, 16:1). They had stayed with Him during the entirety of His death, and were the first witnesses to His resurrection (Luke 24:1-10; John 20:11-18), as well as reporting it first to the apostles.

 The women who followed Christ exemplify what true service is. In ancient society, women did not occupy a place of importance to many. They were considered weak, both physically and emotionally. Yet Jesus elevated them as worthy followers of Him. Paul emphasized how the forgiveness of Christ was as applicable to them as anyone else. "There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Peter speaks of women as "joint-heirs of the grace of life" (1Peter 3:7). We can point to the example of Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, who took Apollos and expounded to Apollos "the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18:26). Paul said they also risked their lives for his (Romans 16:4). Consider Lydia, who obeyed the gospel in Philippi, and opened her home to her fellow Christians (Acts 16:40). Or Phoebe, whom Paul said, using the same terminology that was used to speak of those women who followed Jesus, was a servant of the church (Romans 16:1).

 God has a place of service for each of us in His kingdom. It is not the specific role that He has given us which matters, but having a heart for ministry and a willingness to do one's best for Him, whatever that role may be. Both the apostles and the women who followed had a part to play in God's will through Christ, and everyone has something they can offer today as well. May we all be as Paul commends in Ephesians 5:1-2; "Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell." Like Christ, be a servant of His and find the abundant life He offers (John 10:10).

 Robert Johnson, Longview TX