Posted on: Thursday 20 September 2018
Posted in: Anglican Faith Connections
In this term’s Chapel services, we have been looking at the women who are mentioned in the New Testament. These were all followers or family of Jesus. When we think of disciples, we all usually think of the twelve men who were named by Jesus as his disciples, but beyond that there is a far larger number of people who followed him from Galilee to Jerusalem, both men and women. Only some are given names, but in the pages of the New Testament, we do have glimpses of them from time to time, often standing in the background, but crucially important in the story of Jesus.
For example, it is one such follower, Joseph of Arimathea, who provides the tomb for his burial while others such as Bartimaeus and Mary Magdalene followed Jesus because he had healed them of their infirmities. Again, others followed him because of his teaching and, as Luke comments supported his ministry, “The twelve were with him, as well as some women…Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.” (Luke 8:3).
Overall, we do not have a clear picture of the number of the followers of Jesus, but what is clear is that there was a core group and then many others and, of this latter group, many were women. Many of these were called Mary which is not surprising because in this period one in five women in Palestine had that name! Thus, there is Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. It is also of some significance given the role of women in First Century Palestine, that the resurrection of Jesus is first witnessed to by some of these women. As I wrote those words, I was reminded of the concluding lines of Bruce Dawe’s poem, And a Good Friday was had by all:
“then we hauled on the ropes and he rose in the hot air
like a diver just leaving the springboard, arms spread so it seemed over the whole damned creation
over the big men who must have had it in for him
and the curious ones who’ll anything if it’s free
with only the usual women caring anywhere
and a blind man in tears.”
Outside the gospels, there are a number of women mentioned by name including Tabitha, Phoebe, Lydia and Eunice – to name but a few. All show the characteristics of being devout Christians: faithful, loving and caring. Certainly, women worthy of emulating!
Fr Patrick Duckworth