Lesson 6

Women in the Ministry of Jesus

(Luke 2, 7, 8 & 10)
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Introduction: One morning this week I read an article reporting that women are treated like animals in many places of the world. I don't personally know if that is true, but I am sure that in some places now, and in Jesus' time, women did not have equal status with men. How did Jesus relate to women? What lessons can we learn for today? Let's jump into our study of Luke and find out!

  1. Anna


    1. Read Luke 2:36-37. When we studied the second chapter of Luke, we ended before we got to the story about Anna. Would you like to have been Anna? (She has real tragedy in her life, her husband dies seven years after they are married. She never remarries, and apparently never has any children.)


      1. How would you react if this happened to you?


      2. How does Anna react? (She devotes her life to service to God.)


      3. How does God react to this woman's devotion amid tragedy? (She was a prophetess, which means God spoke through her.)


    2. Read Luke 2:38. Who is "them" in this verse? (The context is Luke 2:25-34. "Them" is Mary, Joseph, Simeon and the baby Jesus.)


      1. How else does God reward Anna for her faithfulness? (She seems to have no children, but she is one of the very first to be introduced to the Son of God.)


      2. When I read in Luke 2:37 about Anna's typical day, I am not anxious to trade jobs. How does Luke 2:38 expand our understanding of her daily activities? (Her worship, fasting and praying involved telling those "looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" the good news about Jesus. Consider her job now. For those coming to the temple to sacrifice and worship, she teaches them that the fulfillment of the temple worship system has come!)


    3. Read Exodus 38:8. What does this suggest about the nature of Anna's job? (Apparently, she held the traditional role of women who "served" at the entrance to the sanctuary.)


    4. Read 1 Timothy 2:12-13. On what does Paul base this teaching? (The creation account.)


    5. Read 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. What does this say about women in the church? (It says they cannot speak.)


      1. Do you know of any church that does not allow women to speak at all?


    6. One very important rule about understanding God's will is that we must see what the entire Bible says on a subject, not just one or two verses. Look again at Luke 2:38. Is Anna acting contrary to the limitations in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians? (Yes. "She never left the temple" - so her words took place in "church." When she "spoke about the child to all ... looking forward to the redemption" she was teaching visitors that Jesus was the Messiah. When Luke tells us that she was a prophetess, it means that God communicated through her. God approves of her activities, for He rewards her for her faithfulness.)


      1. Can Anna's activities be reconciled with the teachings of Paul? (I'm a teacher who admits what he does not know. I've not yet worked this out, but I do think it is significant that in 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul says this is his personal practice ("I do not permit"). I've never been in a church where women were not allowed to speak at all, which suggests that no one in authority in my sphere reads 1 Corinthians 14:34 as reflecting God's will.)


  2. Mary and Martha


    1. Read Luke 10:38. What is Martha? (A homeowner. It must have been a sizable home to accommodate Jesus and the disciples.)


    2. Read Luke 10:39-40. Does Martha have a fair request? (Why is Jesus the one to make this decision? I suppose it is because Mary is listening to Jesus, and it might be very impolite to tell her to stop listening.)


    3. Read Luke 10:41-42. Which would you be, Martha or Mary? (I fear that I would be Martha - getting things done.)


      1. What is Mary doing that is better? (Listening to Jesus.)


      2. The Martha in me says, "Would you still have the "only one thing is needed" attitude Jesus when it comes time to eat and nothing is prepared?"


      3. Let's consider the wider lesson here. What do you think the culture suggested was the proper role for women? (Doing what Martha was doing.)


        1. What is Jesus saying the "better" role is for women? (Spiritual training.)


        2. Is this just a time-limited thing? Mary can get back to cooking and cleaning after Jesus leaves?


      4. What does this story teach those of us to tend to be like Martha? (Being worried and upset is not something that is "needed" in our life.)


  3. Women Philanthropists


    1. Read Luke 8:1-3. What has Jesus done for these women? (He healed them of whatever problem beset them. In addition, Jesus allows them to travel with Him.)


    2. Re-read Luke 8:3. Why do you think Luke mentions that the women were financially supporting Jesus and the disciples? (This shows the depth of their love and care for Jesus. They put their money where their hearts were. It also says something about Jesus and His male disciples who were willing to be supported by women.)


  4. Mary the Courtesan


    1. Read Luke 7:36. Jesus generally has problems with Pharisees. Why would a Pharisee invite Jesus to dinner?


    2. Read Luke 7:37-38. How did this woman get into the Pharisee's home? (This suggests that it was a large home with a lot of people eating.)


      1. Why is this woman doing this? (It seems that Jesus has done something for her that has touched her heart. She cries when she thinks of what Jesus has done for her.)


    3. Read Luke 7:39. Would you notice this if you were Jesus? (Of course!)


      1. Gentlemen, how would you react if this happened to you? (If she were not crying, I would consider this kissing and touching to be a suggestion of a sexual nature.)


      2. How would you interpret the Pharisee's thoughts: "what kind of woman" and "she is a sinner?" (Some commentators say that she is not a prostitute, because that conclusion is not required by the language. Since we are all sinners, I'm inclined to think this is not a comment about the general state of humanity, rather she had some sexual mistakes in her past. That, of course, fits with the idea that the Pharisee probably saw this as I would - an invitation of a sexual nature.)


      3. Read Matthew 26:7. What does this add to the debate about the nature of this woman's approach? (She would not use "very expensive" perfume if this was a commercial transaction.)


    4. Read Luke 7:40-43. Would you give the same answer as Simon the Pharisee?


    5. Read Luke 7:44-47. Apply this to your church. Do those who have been "good" all of their life have less depth of emotion about the gospel and God? (I think this is true.)


      1. Notice an odd statement, Jesus says "her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much." Are sins forgiven based on our love? What about grace? (Jesus describes an attitude. I don't think forgiveness is a matter of mere words, it is a matter of attitude. Jesus says this woman has great gratitude over being saved from her sins. That gratitude becomes love.)


        1. When you realize that God has forgiven some great sin of yours, does that increase your love for Jesus?


    6. Read Luke 7:48-50. Tell me about the contrast between this unnamed woman and Simon the Pharisee. Who is the real religious leader? Who is the one who is properly serving God? Who is being taught here?


    7. Friend, we can see from these stories that God values women. He honored Anna by bringing Jesus to her. God entrusted Anna with His message to temple visitors that Jesus has come. Jesus considered the religious education of Mary more important than ordinary work. Jesus used a sinful woman to teach an important lesson about love to a Pharisee. God uses women to teach! Will you study further regarding the role of women in ministry?


  5. Next week: Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Prayer.

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Lessons on Luke

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