Lesson 2: Compassionate Hospitality

Each one of you is a child of God because of your faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or citizen, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus.

– Galatians 3:26-28 (TIB)

Devotion: Read Luke 8:1-3. In a world where females are treated as property and some Pharisees question if women are intellectually capable of understanding the Torah, Jesus welcomes them as followers, alongside the twelve disciples. In fact, the women provide resources, financing Jesus’ three year ministry. Luke points out Jesus’ female followers are present at the crucifixion (23:49), the first to discover the empty tomb (24:10), and in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:14).

Today, women are still not treated as equal to men in the majority of churches around the world. Some denominations ordain women into leadership, just as some led the fight against slavery and for civil rights for all, but other Christians refuse such changes. The United Methodist Church celebrates women’s ministry and began ordaining female pastors in 1956. How should churches decide which changes to welcome and which to avoid? What are the obstacles and temptations Christians face when dealing with social change?

Personal Worship Option: Read Romans 10:12-13. Who are the groups of people you have a hard time welcoming into your life?  Those who are difficult for you to receive may not reflect any cultural list, but we all have people who are hard to love. Who is on your list? Pray for God to open your heart toward all people.

Dig A Little Deeper:

While it is surprising women are accepted as disciples in this culture (Jn 4:27), Luke presents this in an understated way. This suggests the early church to whom he writes is already comfortable with female disciples (Acts 16:14; 1 Cor 16:19-20; Phil 4:2-3; 2 Tim 4:19-21).

8:1 Again, Jesus is presented as primarily a teacher of the reign of God rather than healer or miracle worker. “The twelve” are introduced in Luke 6:13-16.

8:2 Many people assume these women first begin to follow Jesus after he heals them. If so, they may be connected to Luke 4:40-41 or 6:17-19.

Mary is called Magdalene because she is from Magadala, most likely the modern city of Mejdel. There is no reason to connect Mary with the woman caught in adultery in 7:36-50, but sadly, tradition often ties the two together.

Note the similarities of this verse with 24:10. Both lists name a few specific women as well as unnamed “others.”

8:3 This list of female followers is the third story Luke reports concerning Jesus’ relationships with women. Luke 7:11-15 introduces a widow whose son is raised from death. 7:36-50 reports the story of a woman caught in adultery whom Jesus forgives. What do these three stories demonstrate to us about how women are treated in this culture?

Joanna is married to Chuza, the manager of Herod Antipas’ estate, a position of prominence. Jesus’ ministry is reaching across socio-economic lines. It also explains why Herod is hearing about Jesus (9:7-9). Some speculate he may be the official to which John 4:46-54 refers.

The women provide for “them” meaning Jesus and the twelve, suggesting they are wealthier than the disciples, and thus, probably from more respected families.

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