Biblical times were not exactly what you would call the golden era of Women’s Liberation. In Palestine of Biblical times the birth of a boy was an occasion for great joy. When the time of the birth had arrived friends and local musicians broke into music and there was universal congratulations and rejoicing. However, if the newborn was a girl the musicians went home silently and regretfully.
There was also that famous prayer spoken each day by many Jewish men: “Blessed are you, O Lord, Our God, who has not made me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.”
However, there are other places in the scriptures that seem to balance out this negativity—particularly in the life of Jesus. In Jesus’ time a Hebrew Rabbi was not even permitted to speak to a woman in public…even to his wife or mother. Yet Jesus talked to a woman of shameful reputation at a well, because Jesus treated all people, including women with dignity and compassion.
Women were also very prominent in Jesus’ ministry. They helped support his work and were at the cross when he was crucified, even after his male disciples scattered in fear. They were the first to see him after his resurrection, and it was a woman who was given the assignment to be the first to proclaim the good news that “Jesus is risen.”
Personally, I am glad that our generation is finally waking up to something that Jesus knew 2000 years ago: Women are very important to the leadership of God’s Church. As I look back on the history of the Church I lament the fact that many gifts of God have been tossed aside and never used simply because someone was not of a particular gender. Oh, the wasted years and ministry that could have been. I am grateful, today, for my female colleagues in the ministry and the gifts they offer for the sake of God’s kingdom. God bless the ministry of Women.
Tim Hobbs, Pastor