Tag Archives: Luke 24

Ladies First

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
Luke 24:9-11 (NIV)

Of the three authors of Jesus’ biographies (aka “the Gospels”), Dr. Luke is known for his attention to details not found in the other three. One of these details that stands out for me is the attention he gives to the women among Jesus’ entourage and inner circle.

Much earlier in his accounts, Luke shares with us that a group of women were traveling with Jesus and the Twelve. They were also financially supporting His miraculous mystery tour around the shores of Galilee:

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Luke 8:1-3 (NIV)

Contemporary followers of Jesus don’t give enough attention and credit to Jesus for radically shifting the status of women in Hebrew and Roman society. The status of women in those days was as poor as it has been throughout most of history. Women were perceived and treated as inferior to men. One of the daily prayers that a good Hebrew man would recite thanked God that he was not born a woman, a dog, or a Gentile. It was socially unacceptable for a man to speak to a woman in public. Freeborn women in the Roman Empire fared somewhat better than women in Hebrew world of Judea, but not much.

Jesus was a game-changer. He broke with convention. He spoke to women publicly. He touched them, healed them, and treated them with love and grace. It is no wonder then, that women would be among his most staunch supporters. I also find it fascinating that among the inner circle of female advocates is Joanna, the wife of the head of King Herod’s household. Another fact comes to my mind this morning that among all the accounts of Jesus’ kangaroo court trials before the Jewish High Priest, the Jewish religious authorities, the Roman Governor Pilate, and the Judean King Herod, there is only one person who speaks up on Jesus’ behalf. The wife of Pontius Pilate sent her husband a private message urging him not have anything to do with Jesus and all of the turmoil being stirred up against Him.

In the years to follow, the spread of the Jesus movement was, in part, fueled by the fact that the status of women within the movement broke with social convention. “In Christ,” Paul wrote, “there is neither male or female.” When Jesus followers gathered for their love feasts women were welcome at the table with men. It may seem like a baby step in contrast to modern society, but in the day it was a major game-changer. It should also be noted that once the Jesus Movement became an institution called the Holy Roman Empire, women were quickly stripped of what gains in status that they had been enjoying.

In the quiet this morning I find it, therefore, worth pondering that in yesterday’s chapter Luke makes it clear that it was the women of Jesus’ inner circle who followed Jesus to the cross and witnessed the entire bloody affair while the men were hiding in fear for their lives. In today’s chapter it was the women to whom word of the resurrection was first given, and the men who concluded that the silly women were being non-sensical.

The further I get in my journey, the more I find myself shedding the social and institutional conventions and norms that I was taught and absorbed growing up with regard to women. God saw fit to ensure that most of my earthly journey would be spent as the lone male in the company of amazing, strong, gifted, and wise females. I find that it has made me both more appreciative of Jesus’ rebellious change of the social conventions of His day, and more desirous to carry on that legacy.

Have you missed the previous chapter-a-day posts from this journey through the Gospel of Luke? Click on this image and it will take you to a quick index of the other posts!

Strong Women

VW FamilyWhen they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Luke 24:9-12 (NIV)

I am married to a very strong, intelligent woman. I have raised two very strong, capable daughters, and a very capable sister-in-law is living with us now. I’m surrounded by strong women and have been for many years. If there is even a hint of misogyny in the air, I’ve learned to recognize it because I’ve learned over time what sets the ladies of the VW household off.

Let me tell you that my misogyny detector was going off loud and clear when I read this morning’s chapter. The women who had been strong followers of Jesus (and, at least in the case of Joanna, most certainly a financial supporter) come running back from the empty tomb sharing what they witnessed. The response of the men:

But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

BEEP * BEEP * BEEP * BEEP * BEEP

Mistake. These were not flighty women. They had been companions and supporters of the cause for a long time. This was not one raving lunatic, it was several people all saying the same thing. The men, however, dismiss the ladies and their account. Only Peter and John had enough of a shred of faith to make a personal investigation of their claims.

Today, I’m thankful for strong women in my life, and I’m grateful for the life lessons they have taught me. I have had to learn a thing or two along my journey about my own prejudices of gender and the subtle misogynistic notions that I’ve held. I love that Jesus cared deeply for women and honored them in sharp contrast to the deeply misogynistic culture of His day. I like to try and follow that example.

Chapter-a-Day Luke 24

“Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words. Luke 24:6b-7 (MSG)

This past week I wrote about my college age daughter refusing to heed my warning about the weather, and finding herself in a ditch in her new [used] car in the wee hours of a cold, wintery night. I have enjoyed hugging her this week, knowing that she is safe, and have fought the urge to remind her of my words. It would be so easy to say, “I told you so. Why didn’t you listen to my warning and wait until the storm passed?”

As I read today’s chapter I noticed a theme:

  • Angels remind the women at the tomb that Jesus told them exactly what was going to happen. vss. 4-8
  • Jesus, in frustration, reminds the disciples on the road to Emmaus that what happened to him was exactly what the prophets foretold. vs. 25
  • Jesus reminds the disciples that he revealed to them that the scriptures said he must suffer, die and be raised. vs. 45-46

As I read, I thought about my own experience as a father this week, and remembered the countless times my Earthly father and my Heavenly Father could have said “Didn’t I tell you? Weren’t you listening? Don’t you remember what I said?”

We are all just children in the never ending process of growing up. Maturity is revealed in each of us as we remember, via the hard way or the easy way, the lessons we’ve been taught and apply them to our current circumstances.

God, remind me of what I’ve been taught, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Give me the wisdom, grace, and maturity to apply those lessons as I walk through my day.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and jakekrohn

Chapter-a-Day Luke 24

Note to readers: This is an old post from back in 2008 that got lost in my “Drafts” folder and was never published. So, I’m publishing it today. Better late than never. Cheers!

Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Luke 24:25 (TM)

For the past fifteen years I’ve worked with a consulting firm that believes in following Biblical principles. Because of those principles, we never sign long term contracts with any client. One year at a time. That’s it. Towards the end of every year, we begin working on the following year’s contracts. Hopefully, we’ve brought measurable value to our clients and they want us back the next year. But, I don’t know that for sure.

Some members of our consulting group are often anxious this time of year. You can see the wheels spinning behind their eyes. Will I have work next year? Will we have enough renewal business? Will I be able to pay my bills? Should I get my resume together?

As an employer, I can’t give them assurances. I can only encourage them to have faith.

Faith. Simple belief. Being sure of what you hope for. Trusting in what you can’t see. Faith can be scary. Faith involves risk. If you want to be assured of a certain income, then you probably don’t want to work for our group. Of course, if you’re assured a certain income, then you’re probably not going to make any more than you expect, either.

When you operate on faith, the outcome is unlimited. If you simply believe, if you are willing to follow where your faith takes you and do the work required, then there is no limit to how much you might eventually profit.

Faith is requirement for this journey. Following Jesus is, at the core, a faith journey. As Madeleine L’Engle said, “Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.”