Encouragement for women
Despite living in a patriarchal society (Mt. 14:21; 15:38), the faithfulness of godly women was evident when Jesus was on earth, and in the early Church.
During Christ’s Ministry
When Jesus and His twelve apostles traveled from town to town in Galilee on a missionary trip, they were accompanied by some women who helped “to support them out of their own means” (Lk. 8:1-3; Mk. 15:40-41). There was Mary Magdalene; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; Mary the mother of James and Joses; and Salome. They all followed Jesus and cared for His needs, probably providing food and accommodation in addition to encouragement. In return for being cured of evil spirits and diseases, they provided practical and financial support to those who were preaching and teaching about the kingdom of God.
Women from Bethany, near Jerusalem, also supported Jesus. For example, Martha “opened her home to Him” and served a dinner in His honor, and Mary honored Him by anointing Him with expensive perfume (Lk. 10:38; Jn. 12:1-3).
At Christ’s Death
These women continued to support Jesus when He faced death by crucifixion. They remained beside the cross when the male disciples ran for their lives (Lk. 23:27-28,49; Jn. 19:25). They had followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, a distance of about 150 km (95 miles), “to care for His needs” (Mt. 27:55-56). And “many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem were also there” (Mk. 15:40-41). This was a long journey for those times.
John wrote: “Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother (Mary), His mother’s sister (Salome, the mother of John), Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (Jn. 19:25). Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses followed the body of Jesus to the grave and observed His burial (Mt. 27:61; Mk. 15:47; Lk. 23:55-56).
At Christ’s Resurrection
When these women went to anoint His body, they were the first to see the empty tomb (Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-11; Lk. 24:1-11; Jn. 20:1-2,10-18). Because of their faithfulness God allowed them to be the first to learn of the resurrection. An angel told them, “He is not here; He has risen!” and they had the privilege of telling the other disciples that Jesus was alive again. The women present on the morning of the resurrection included: Mary Magdalene, the one to whom He first appeared and spoke after the resurrection (Mk. 16:9); Mary, the mother of James and Joses; Salome; Zebedee’s wife and mother of James and John; and Joanna, wife of Cuza.
In The Early Church
Women were usually present with the apostles as they served God. After the resurrection they obeyed Christ’s instruction to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit: “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:4,14).
In Romans 16, Paul listed those who helped him. These are heroes of the Christian faith in the first century. It is interesting to note that 31% (9 of 29) of those listed are women. The first one is Phoebe, who probably delivered Paul’s letter to Rome and is said to be a deacon (or servant) in her local church.
The Bible consistently recognizes the faithfulness of godly women. We should too.