There are verses in Scripture we tend to ignore or find irrelevant. We read past them to get to the more “exciting” passages. But perhaps in our haste we miss the sweet kiss on the cheek from our Savior.
I think Luke 8:1-3 is one of the passages we move too quickly through.
Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. (Luke 8:1-3 NLT)
In order to feel the kiss on the cheek one must understand the culture of the time. During Jesus’ day women were considered inferior to men. Every day Jewish men prayed, “Blessed are you king of the universe for not having made me a gentile, a slave, (or) a woman.”And because of women’s inferiority and propensity towards promiscuity Rabbi’s weren’t to stand too close to a woman. The Pharisees “forbade women to stand nearer to them than four cubits.” I don’t know what a cubits is but I know it says, “Stand back.” Isn’t this partially why Simon was upset in Luke 7? A woman came and wiped Jesus’ feet. Simon murmured under his breath, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39) Here’s a woman, an immoral woman at that, allowed to come near and touch Jesus. Not okay!
Not only were Rabbi’s to stand their distance they weren’t to speak to women either. Jewish wisdom literature states, “He that talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself and neglects the study of the Law and at the last will inherit Gehenna [hell].” Certainly if they weren’t to speak to women they weren’t to teach them either. As the respected Rabbi Eliezer wrote, “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman … Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.” Obscenity? Yes. See Rabbi’s taught out in the open public. Public space was male space. If a woman left her home without brother or father she was viewed as being sexually promiscuous. And yet, women traveled with Jesus. I wonder what the male disciples thought? Can you see their body language? They may not dare say anything but surely it was uncomfortable for them. Yet, women traveled with Jesus.
What do you make of this? What does it say about Jesus? About women (and anyone of lower social status?)
I think it’s Jesus pointing to you and me and saying, “I know the world says your less but I choose you to be with me.” Can’t you see Him pointing to you and you looking behind your shoulders for someone else He must be pointing to? No, it’s you. Yes you. He chooses you to be with Him. Being with Jesus is the first step to becoming a follower of Christ, a disciple.
I know some who would like to say these women were chosen to cook and take care of the bills. And yes, they did do that…that is a worthy calling. But it’s not all they were tasked to do. If we look throughout Jesus’ ministry life we find the women there. And if we go to the end of Luke, Luke 24:10, we find the women were the first to witness His resurrection. Don’t miss it, this is the crowning act in Jesus’ ministry; it vindicates all that He claimed about Himself, it validates His teachings, and it forms the basis for Christian hope. The fullness of the Gospel has been accomplished, and women are the ones entrusted to speak this truth first. They are told to “go and tell” the others. Okay think back to the culture. This is HUGE. The culture considered women inferior. They didn’t allow women to give testimony in court. They couldn’t be trusted. Their minds were weaker therefore more easily deceived. The fact that women did testify is one of the reasons is believable. Who would record that fact if it weren’t true? No one cause it would be an embarrassment unless it were true.
What does this tell you about Jesus? About being a woman? About Jesus and cultural norms? How does this inform you about yourself? Is there any challenge in this for you?