Traveling with Jesus
By Jill Briscoe
Jesus loved women and has a wonderful plan for them as they serve Him.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him, and also some women…” Luke 8:1-2
I’m in Indonesia at a campsite where Stuart and I are the invited teachers of Christian leaders and trainers – both men and women. These people work in hugely challenging places. I’m teaching a series for the women on “Women in the Life of Jesus.” In countries where women do not always feel valued or appreciated, or are treated in such a way that they believe their contribution doesn’t amount to much, even in the church, this particular teaching brings affirmation and joy to their hearts.
Jesus was Radical
Jesus included women on His team. Some of them were women He had healed of various ills, including demon possession. He addressed women in public when His culture didn’t permit an Orthodox Jew to even speak to his own wife while out and about. It’s said that an Orthodox Jew would pray each morning, “I thank Thee, God, that I am not a slave, I am not a Gentile, and I am not a woman.” Yet, Jesus always treated women with dignity and respect, using examples of women in His teaching and parables, as He taught along the way. This was a first for a teaching Rabbi, and He even allowed women to touch Him. (Even “those” sorts of women! See Lk. 7:36-50 and Jn. 4:4-26.) He doubtless was criticized for all of it.
The Bible says that some of the women mentioned in Lk. 8:1-4 who traveled with Jesus were influential, prominent women who were “helping to support Him out of their own means.”
Jesus loved women as much as He loved men. He came to die for them and included them in His ministry. He showed women were worth creating, redeeming, gifting, and blessing. At Pentecost there were women, along with the men, waiting for the Spirit in the upper room. They, too, shared the gospel in Jerusalem after the Spirit empowered them (Acts 2).
Women were first at His birth, last at His cross, first to see Jesus after He rose from the dead, and first to tell of His resurrection. It is my joy to tell women all over the world that there is a place at His side for them. He calls and equips us women for service – as in His day, so in ours. We, too, can travel with Jesus.
Women are Good at MinistryWomen are good at ministry. They are flexible and adaptable. They are nurturers. They manage and organize well, as a general rule. They are brave and courageous. The women who traveled with Jesus in those early days needed to be all these things and more. They never knew if there would be 20 people on the traveling team to house and feed, or 40! Would a particular day mean feeding just the team or 5,000? They never knew. What challenges of faith and compassion, words or deeds awaited them on any given day? They would doubtless need to “multi-task,” but women are good at that!
Consider, what would they need to explain to the people who came to Jesus for help? Should they tell how they, themselves, met Jesus? What Jesus had done for them, for others? What the last sermon they had heard Jesus give had to say about the authorities, the poor, the oppressed, prisoners, or rich people? They had to be careful what they said in some places or they could get the team or Jesus Himself into trouble. It was getting dangerous traveling with Jesus.
These women took each day as it came. They helped with accommodations. A big group needed food to eat, a place to sleep for the night, clean clothes, and supplies for the road. There were women, like themselves, who had been torn to pieces with demons or incurable maladies that Jesus had healed. There would be lonely people who needed listening to, desperate people who were abused in their marriages, or widows with no means of support to comfort, encourage, and serve.
Not only did they need to lovingly serve and be available to all these (as well as to Jesus and His disciples) but they also would be able to share some of the stories they had heard Jesus tell, the teaching they heard along the way, or the good news that the King of the Kingdom had indeed come! There was forgiveness for sin, and power to be transformed for all peoples. They would tell all who would listen!
Just as the “Jesus team” never quite knew who would be in front of them on any given day, or what challenges a day would bring, in our little way we have our surprises, too. The first question I ask when I get to the many varied venues for speaking engagements is: “Who is in front of me today?” Of course, we have our letters of invitation and we know generally, but it’s always good to ask once we arrive. You just never know what a day will bring forth. Last summer, my daughter and I went to Korea to speak to women. When we got there, we learned the organizers had decided to change the conference emphasis and there would be a couple thousand pastors’ wives in front of us instead of the audience we expected!
Coming to Hong Kong a few weeks ago, there were a few surprises, as well. On top of hours of teaching, there was a rally for Filipino maids. These women are seldom permitted to leave their duties or premises, are not always glad they left their country at great cost to provide money for the family back home, and are sometimes exploited. They may hear their husbands are being unfaithful to them in their absence, or even that their children have been passed off to other relatives. A whole theater full of these sweet, gentle women on their only afternoon off in the middle of the week sat waiting for some words of encouragement and help from me. I had an hour to speak to them. It was my joy and privilege to tell them Jesus wanted them on His team.
Last week, in a whole new country, I found myself in front of an exclusive Indonesian high school class for a talk on “What’s So Good About Good Friday?” Then, on to another school with students plus their fathers, who had come to join their children for an Easter breakfast. “You have 45 minutes,” I was told on arrival. In my experience, this was not an unusual “extra” opportunity thrown in. I will not soon forget that packed school hall, watching with expectation as I used a whiteboard to sketch the story of the two crucified thieves, one of whom repented and was saved by Christ.
Then, on to the Sumatran people, for whom Tsunami stories are never far from the conversation. They were waiting for me on my return from the school meeting. Nearly every one of the women from this area had lost someone dear to her. They were pastors’ and leaders’ wives.
Jesus is the Dynamic of All of His Demands
As a woman on Jesus’ team, I am tired, but happy. I know Jesus loves not only men but women, too. He not only wants to heal and transform us, but wants to have us by His side, giving our lives away and getting the good news of the Kingdom out.
I think of Inca Indian women high in the Andes, pastors’ wives in the U.S., the women prisoners in Texas, as well as the guards and the relatives of those incarcerated, the country club crowds, women supporting Jesus out of their own means, and the hours of counseling, listening, and loving in between everything else! Yes, Jesus loved women and has a wonderful plan for them as they serve Him.