|Volume 24 Number 12 December 2022
Influential Women in Jesus’ Life
Jesus is the most influential person in the history of the world. There have been more books written about Him than anyone else in history. When we read the Gospel accounts, we see why Jesus left such a large imprint on the world. He went around doing good for all people (Acts 10:38). He taught, healed, died and rose from the dead as proof of His deity (Romans 1:4). One of the things often overlooked in the life of Jesus is the influential people who were involved in His life. Many of the most influential people in Jesus’ life were women. These women’s lives should be noted and studied. Jesus was as equally interested in women as He was in men throughout His ministry. Although Jesus selected twelve men to be His apostles, He had women serve near Him throughout His earthly ministry.
Mary: His Mother
The Old Testament foretold that a virgin would conceive and bring forth a Son Who would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). The New Testament tells us that Mary, who was espoused to Joseph, is the one who gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1:16-25). She was special enough to be chosen by God to give birth to the Son of God. The angel Gabriel spoke to Mary telling her that she had been chosen for this great task (Luke 1:26-35). She was willing to undergo ridicule and mockery in order to do God’s will. We are not surprised to later read of her Son experiencing the same (Matthew 27:31, 41-44). When all the disciples fled, Mary was with Jesus at the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27). When the disciples of the Lord were assembled after Jesus’ ascension, Mary was there also (Acts 1:14). She is the constant picture of faithfulness and obedience. From before Jesus’ birth to His death, resurrection and ascension, Mary was loyal to her God.
Canaanite Woman: Great Faith
Jesus’ primary mission was to seek and to save the lost of Israel while He was on earth (Matthew 15:24; Luke 19:9-10). Eventually, His saving blood was going to be spread throughout the world and reach all people, but this was to happen in stages (Acts 1:8). Though Jesus was focused solely on Israel during His earthly ministry, there were instances where Gentiles were healed as they boldly petitioned Jesus for help. On one occasion, a woman of Canaan came crying for Jesus to heal her daughter who was demon possessed (Matthew 15:22, 25). She told Jesus that she was willing to take the crumbs that fall from the table, meaning that although Jesus was focused on Jews, He could spare a blessing for a Gentile on this occasion (Matthew 15:26-27). Jesus praised her for her great faith, and her daughter was healed immediately (Matthew 15:28). This unnamed woman showed us that persistence pays off (Matthew 7:7). She also showed us the value of great faith and demonstrated that sometimes those we think least likely to believe have the greatest faith (Mark 6:6).
The Widow: Sacrificial Giving
Jesus often instructed about money and how His disciples were to view it. He taught that we should lay up treasures in Heaven and not on Earth (Matthew 6:19-21). Once, He challenged a rich man to sell everything and follow Him (Matthew 19:21-22). He said, “…only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23-24 ESV). One day, He saw a widow putting money into the temple treasury. She had put in two copper coins which make a penny (Mark 12:42). Jesus claimed that the widow had put in more money than all others who put into the treasury because she cast in everything she had on which to live (Mark 12:43-44). This woman did not have much, but she gave much. She showed her love for God by what she was willing to give to God (2 Corinthians 8:24). Shortly after this widow gave all of her money, Jesus was going to give His life (Mark 10:45). In Jesus’ eyes, giving is more important than receiving (Acts 20:35). The widow showed the disciples how true giving was to be done. We learn from her that God honors quality more than quantity. The Savior who sacrificed delighted in others who sacrificed.
Mary: Anoints Jesus for Burial
Before Jesus was crucified, we are told that Mary [not the mother of Jesus] took a very expensive perfume and anointed Him for His burial (Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8). While some were upset with what they considered to be a waste, Jesus praised the work of Mary on this occasion. Jesus promised that wherever the Gospel is preached, the good deed done by Mary was to be told as a memorial of her (Mark 14:9). Mary’s extravagant gift showed her concern for Jesus and the love and devotion she had for Him. Jesus praised her for it. We learn from Mary that when we do what is right, Jesus is pleased with us, too. God will not forget us (Hebrews 6:10). Our works follow us, and our God rewards us (Revelation 14:13).
Joanna, Susanna: Sponsors
As Jesus went throughout cities and villages preaching the Gospel, He was followed and supported by several women. Luke tells us that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many others provided for Him out of their means (Luke 8:2-3). These women seemed to have been affluent to some degree as they had enough money to contribute to the public ministry of Jesus. Jesus was a carpenter by trade, but His ability to work with His hands probably decreased as His teaching and preaching ministry blossomed (Mark 6:3). God provided for the physical needs of Jesus through the liberal contributions of these women. The kindness of these faithful women shows us that we can partner with God in His work in a variety of ways. These women did not teach, preach or do miracles, and nor were they chosen as apostles of the Lord. Nevertheless, they did what they could, and they are mentioned as helpers of the Lord’s work. May we, like these women, not focus on what we cannot do. Let us, instead, focus on all of the things that we can do to help the Lord’s work go further.
When we study the life of Jesus, we should keep our eyes open for all of those who were a part of His life. These women were faithful servants who were involved in Jesus’ life and are remembered for their work. Let us model their dedication and submit our lives to His service. From the beginning of Jesus’ life unto the end, we see women doing noteworthy things. The Holy Spirit included these things in Scripture for a reason. May we be influenced by their righteousness!