Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jesus and the Women in Luke

“Soon afterwards Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.”

~Luke 8:1-3 (NRSV).

Luke may have been a physician and historian—a very smart man—but he was also an outlier. Perhaps this is the reason he draws out with much significance the detail of the women in his account.

There are no fewer than nineteen key stories where women play a key role in Luke’s gospel. This far outweighs the other gospel writers’ foci. But, as we’d expect, when four writers are chronicling the character and deeds of one person, Jesus, over three years, there must have been a lot of different things to comment upon, besides the personality of the writer coming to the fore.

Luke’s Jesus is keen to upset the apple cart, particularly regarding who he interacts with. First century fraternisation with women was about as advised as calling tax collectors friends.

But what is it that Jesus sees in these women, or they in him?

There is no doubt vision of the inequities, which riled Jesus in righteous indignation, has motivated the Lord to be the Advocate.

The hint for what the women saw in Jesus, apart from his undeniable compassion, was the healing they’d experienced—one-off healing and ongoing healing as they continued in his Presence. Also, note the humility of men in that age accepting resources from women. To be allowed to give something back to the Lord would’ve been a most alluring thing for these women. It is a grand love that allows others to love through giving.

The Very Mention...

How women are even mentioned in the Scriptural setting is a miracle itself, given the First Century context. (We, today, cannot grumble too much about the semblances of gender inequality with this in view. But that said Jesus would find any unnecessary inequality barbaric.)

Projecting forward to the present day, we can safely feel the reverberant echo of Jesus through the ages, casting judgment on such injustice.

The very mention of against-the-trend matters so far as Jesus is concerned gives confidence to the outlier. Who is the friend of Jesus more than the downtrodden person?

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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