Christ’s parable of the sower and the seed centers on the planting of God’s word in the soil of human hearts. On the front porch of Luke 8 we are told about a group of women in whose hearts the seed of the word sprouted up.
We meet Mary Magdalene, a woman liberated by the Lord from seven demons that once possessed her. There is Joanna, the wife of Cuza who was on Herod’s payroll! There is Susanna of whom we know only her name.
The Bible tells us of many women – Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, the widow of Zarephath, the Shunamite woman, Esther, Elizabeth, Mary, Anna, Mary and Martha, Dorcas, Lydia, Priscilla, the daughters of Philip, and Phoebe. These and many others played their part in the Divine drama.
More than anyone else, our Lord Jesus and His apostles elevated the position of woman in a pagan world which degraded her. Repeatedly, the apostles emphasized the Christ-like love husbands owe their wives.
Christ’s attitude was unafraid to counter the culture of the day. He engaged the woman at Jacob’s well in a conversation – something that stunned the apostles. He stopped the whole parade to the house of a synagogue ruler to encourage the faith of a nameless woman who reached out to touch Him. He did not condescend to them with a “bless the little woman” attitude. He addressed their concerns head on, whether they liked the answers or not.
This struck a chord in women of faith. They did not respond by voicing their disagreement with God’s head/helper roles designed at creation. They did not protest that Christ chose no women to be apostles. They did not cast off basic and timeless Bible principles in favor of becoming manly women. They found their womanhood ennobled in serving Christ. Christ’s respect for them was utterly counter-cultural in that day. Christ’s design for men and women is utterly counter-cultural in our day. There will always be principles of God’s truth which rub against whatever culture in which we live.
Touchingly, being of no mind to contradict Christ’s design, so many women clung to Him even when the apostles defected. Not the apostles, but the women watched as the Lord’s body was laid to rest. Not the apostles, but the women were first to the tomb on Easter morning – and the first to go and tell the others. Not to Peter, but to Mary Magdalene did Jesus first show Himself alive. It was not a male synagogue ruler, but a business woman named Lydia who first opened her home to Paul and his fellow missionaries on the shores of Europe. It was not an apostle, but Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus before His burial. It was to a Syrophoenician woman that Jesus said: “Great is thy faith!” These and countless others found their joyful purpose not in advancing themselves, but in serving Christ. May their numbers never fail.