Mark 15:41, Jesus and the Female Followers

In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

//Quite often, I find myself in a discussion about the role of women in early Christianity. It seems many women held positions of responsibility and respect, despite the suppressive tone of later New Testament writings like the book of Timothy. Why is this so? Why did Christianity break the social rules and give women more respect than did other Judaic branches?

It goes clear back to Jesus. One sometimes forgets that Jesus’ entourage included many women. Mark’s Gospel reminds us of this in today’s verse. Several women followed Jesus … not just male disciples … and many were still a part of his entourage as he made his final, fateful trip to Jerusalem.

Among these female followers we can find Mary, the wife of Clopas; Susanna; Salome the disciple (as opposed to the Salome who danced for Herod); Mary, the mother of James and Joseph; Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza; and, most famous of all, Mary of Magdala. These are among the “many” who followed and served Jesus, as he roamed from town to town. Luke 8:2-3 makes it clear that Jesus’ roaming band of gospel-spreaders included women. The 72 disciples of Luke 10:1-12 undoubtedly included women.

If Christianity later tended back toward suppression of women, it certainly wasn’t because of the example of Jesus.

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