Women in the bible have gotten a bad rap. Paul used to drive me crazy as a young, naive, God-driven female. What's up with all the "don't talk in church" and "no braiding your hair" business? Someone finally told me to slow down and study the things I was fervently denying. Turns out, Paul didn't scare all the ladies away with his masculine ego. I highly recommend David Platt's recent teaching titled "What about women, Paul?" He does an excellent job of explaining those scriptures in their historical context as well as applying them to modern times.
So once we realize that Paul was not a he-man woman hater (just a little rascals reference there) we really can begin to see the importance of women in Jesus' time and for the church today.
I was recently reading through the book of Mark. I began reading the passages about the Crucifixion of Jesus and something struck me a little differently.
There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
The disciples had all abandoned Jesus in fear. They were scattered. They were in hiding. These women had been with Jesus and the disciples for some time. They had traveled with them caring for all their needs. This was who was with Jesus as he hung on the cross. This group of women continued to care for him. They prepared his body for burial and got quite a surprise when they were on the way to the tomb on the third morning.
This is not a coincidence. This is not a mistake. These women were mentioned by name for a reason. This shows us that women are a valuable part of the kingdom of God. We love, we nurture, we bring beauty to the world unlike anything else. Each woman has a part to play in God's plan. We don't know the extent of what these women actually did. I like to think they were there providing for the disciples physical needs (food, mending clothing, etc) but also their spiritual needs (being a nurturing, kind, confidant). Whatever their service, they meant something.
I told a group of middle school girls a couple of weeks ago, that God made each of them a woman for a reason. I firmly believe that. God has a purpose for each one of us. With our trust in Him and His divine guidance, we can fulfil our purpose (which I suspect is exceptionally beautiful!)