Biblical References: Luke 1:39-55; Luke 2:36-38; Luke 7:11-17; Luke 7:36-50; Luke 8:1-3; Luke 18:1-8
While Jesus experienced opposition from a variety of sources, nowhere in the synoptic gospels are women hostile to Jesus. Not only that, but women are often held up in Luke as positive examples (Luke 18:1-8; 21:1-4 are just two examples). Why? Are women morally superior to men?
1. Luke emphasized the role and importance of women more than any of the other synoptic gospels. The very first chapter of Luke illustrates this emphasis. There, baby Jesus is welcomed by three women. Who are some of the other prominent women who are named? What role do they play in the story?
2. Throughout his gospel, Luke will often pair two stories. One will feature a male character, the second, a female character. When these paired stories are considered side-by-side, interesting insights can be gained. Earlier in this discussion guide, we looked at the first such pairing which involved Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah and then Mary. Both ask a question. Zechariah’s asks, “By what shall I know this?” Mary asks, “How will this be?” Why would Luke contrast these two responses? What might Luke be signaling right at the very start of his book?
3. In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth refers to the pregnant Mary as the “mother of my Lord.” Why would she say this? How did she arrive at this conclusion? What does she believe about Jesus? Why was it so hard for others to come to a similar conclusion about Jesus?
4. The gospel of Luke reminds us on several occasions that it wasn’t just men who traveled with Jesus. As Jesus traveled about “from one town and village to another,” Luke tells us, “The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases” (Luke 8:1-2). Luke continues, “These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (8:3). Near the end of the gospel, Luke reminds us, twice (23:49, 55), that there were women in Jerusalem who had followed Jesus from Galilee, a journey that Jesus begins in Luke 9:51. In what way does the story change for us if we remember that Jesus had men and women who followed him from place to place, and that women provided the financial support for his ministry? Are there lessons we ought to learn from it?
5. Jesus could sometimes be found in the company of women with questionable sexual ethics (Luke 7:36-50 is an example of this). Why would he do this? Shouldn’t he have avoided the appearance of evil? What would we think of an itinerant evangelist who allowed “sinful women” to touch him, kiss him, and pour perfume on him? What was it about Jesus that made women feel comfortable around him?
6. When Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha, he commends Mary for doing a very “unladylike” thing in her culture. The expectation was that the men would listen to the teacher, while the women would tend to those men. Jesus, however, tells Martha, “Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42). What does this mean?
7. I know someone who says, “God has always been more accepting of women that human culture has been.” Do you agree? Why or why not?