Mary: A Look at women in ministry
Mary's first few years as a mother were extremely eventful to say the very least.
The announcement, the birth, the manger, the angels, the wise men, the escape, the return, a lot was happening everyday on top of motherhood of Jesus.
It would be impossible to say that Mary was not a woman who was in ministry.
When you look at those crazy, first few years with Jesus, there's a lot of tragedy and heartbreak, but also a lot of joy and trusting in the Lord. God uses pain to refine, and those years of motherhood for Mary were years of growth to prepare her for the ministry that was ahead.
When you look at the life of Jesus, we can see all throughout His ministry that a lot of women were supporting him by traveling with Him and His disciples, supporting Him financially, and were there at the core of His ministry.
In John 2, Jesus performs His first miracle at a wedding, at Mary was there seeking His help, supporting Him.
We see her at many stages of His life throughout the New Testament, and you could argue that it's just because she is His mother, but Mary's dedication to Jesus's ministry was not just her dedication to the ministry of motherhood, it was an active role in His ministry leading up to His death and resurrection.
When Mary accepted to be the mother of Jesus, way back when the angel Gabriel first visited her, she was not just accepting to carry, deliver, and raise a child. She submitted her life to God, to use it for whatever He had for her. Culturally, Mary sacrificed a lot.
When a lot of us look at Mary, the first thing that comes to mind is a picture-perfect, gentle and quiet woman who is esteemed greatly by everyone, world-wide, but when Mary agreed to carry Jesus, she was giving up her whole reputation with her community. She was a hard-core, devoted, all-in kind of woman who had a really bad rep with a lot of people because of her pregnancy with Jesus.
There were many people who believed Jesus was the Messiah, and they believed the prophecies of the Old Testament that prophesied He would be born of a virgin. However, there was also a lot of people who weren't happy about Jesus being the Savior who completely doubted His deity. Because of that, by default, they believed that Mary was a harlot who got pregnant out of wedlock, which was an extremely big deal in Middle Eastern culture, 33 B.C. A part of her old life had to die, and the new life that God had for her began. And if we can learn anything from Mary about ministry, it's that growing hurts, and it is not easy.
Mary had a very important role in Jesus's life, but she wasn't the only woman facilitating Jesus's ministry.
Mary the sister of Lazarus and her sister Martha walked along Jesus many times in His ministry.
In Luke 7:36-50, Matthew 26:6-13, and Mark 14:3-9, Mary washes Jesus's feet, which symbolized many things, and it was a very important in Jesus's life to set the tone for how He viewed and respected women in front of the Pharisees, especially in a time culturally when women were considered very lowly. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus is at the Home of Mary and Martha who were opening their home to Him. The sisters are seen again in John 11 when their brother dies and Jesus resurrects Him. A very big piece of apologetic evidence that the Bible is true is that women were even mentioned in the whole Book, especially playing such important roles in his life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
Another woman who played an important role in Jesus's ministry was Mary Magdalene.
Mary was a woman Jesus healed of 7 demons, and she is seen in Matthew 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1-19; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1-18. In Luke 8, she is raveling with Jesus, the twelve, and other women, serving alongside Him as He preached from town to town.
Luke 8: 2- 3
Get. It. Girl. These ministries were lit.
Not only were these women on the ground with Jesus, serving with Him and His disciples, they were working to support Him financially. In John 19, Mark 15, and Matthew 27, Jesus is crucified and buried by many of these same women. And, when Jesus rises from the dead, the first people He visits are Mary Magdalene and His mother.
I heard from a small group of Bible teachers and professors at a school I attended that in their own opinion, a woman's place in ministry was to her husband. If you were married, your one role was supporting your husband so he could do his ministry. If you wanted to be in missions, you should marry a missionary and support him. If you wanted to do a ministry, your options were children's ministry or women's ministry, which was a very limited range of things.
As we look at these passages in scripture, however, these women weren't doing those things! These women were seeking how they could serve the Lord, and they were doing it.
Mary, Jesus's mother, really set up a foundation for women serving with Jesus and facilitating His ministry by whatever means they could. Another thing a teacher told me was women should be married and when you are married, your only goals should be to serve your husband and raise your children as a stay at home mother.
That never sat well with me, because I knew from from a young age that God was calling me to full time ministry, talk about conflict.
Here's what I've learned from Mary and the other women serving Jesus:
We're not all called to serve the same way.
Another thing to remember is there are a lot of differences between denominations that gauge what your opinion might be on how women can serve, but different doesn't mean wrong. Some women are 100% called to be stay at home wives or mothers, they serve in ministry like Mary did, mothering her child, teaching Him and growing Him, building their home. Some women are 100% called to be boots on the ground, serving locally, globally, or in whatever capacity out on the battlefront, like Mary Magdalene was with Jesus. Some women are called to be businesswomen, they have a career, they work in retail or an office. Some are called to serve financially, like the women in Luke 8. Some open their homes and use their hospitality, like Martha. Some are married women who have their own ministries and serve in a way different from their spouses, like Joanna and Susanna. Some are called to be speakers and teachers, spreading Jesus. There's a million possibilities, and those are just a few of the women who served with Jesus during His life, not to mention the women of the Old Testament or in Acts and letters from Paul in the New Testament. Ministry looks different for everyone. The most important thing I've learned from Mary and these women is that I, and no one else but Jesus Himself, dont have the right to look at a woman and tell her what she should or should not do in ministry. I'm not saying we all just jump ship from doctrine and live a crazy Joel Olsteen life where we do whatever makes us happy and no one can tell us differently. We should keep each other in check and always take advice on how to live out a Biblically sound life as ministers with our ministries. What I am saying is that I can't look at a stay at home mom and say that because her calling is different than mine, she's wrong and not serving the Lord correctly. I can't tell a woman who's a stay at home wife who's called to financially support that church that isn't serving the right way. I can't look at a woman who's a CEO and tell her she should step away from the ministry field in business world to serve in women's ministry. I can't tell a woman who leads a women's ministry to back on up and serve in the global missions field.
It's not my job to tell anyone what their call to service is or what God's plan is for their lives, my job is to serve Jesus in whatever way He calls me, be faithful, and give it my all.
If someone is truly seeking the Lord and earnestly wants to serve Him, it's not my place to get in the way of that, and if a woman is truly seeking God's will and praying and searching His word to see how He wants her to serve, I can't step up and say sorry honey bunch, that's not allowed. And if you think a women is not serving Jesus in a way that she should be, what you do need to do for her is pray. Pray that if she's wrong, God will reveal the truth to her and bring people in her life to mentor her in a godly way back on the right path. Pray that her ministry succeeds in bringing people to Jesus and loving them the way that God did, and pray that if you're incorrect about anything, that God would give you wisdom and truth.
Mary left, and continues to leave an incredible legacy of how to serve the Lord with your life. Her life is an example of how to be faithful, how to live a favored life, how to be obedient, how to give ministry your all, and how to be confident in God and His promises. We see it in the birth of Jesus, His early life, His later life, and even after His death and resurrection [Acts 1:14]. She was devoted and her treasure and hope was in the Lord. Her life was a life that was dedicated to God. Mary was the woman behind the Savior, and because she said yes to God, we have been saved by grace and can live a life for Jesus.
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