Most Christians admit that Jesus welcomed both men and women as his disciples. However, many do not realize what a radical move this was in Jesus' day. Disciples are not mere students, who just acquire knowledge for the sake of private learning, but are more like apprentices, in that disciples are expected to learn "the skills" of the teacher/rabbi and then when the time comes, they are to go and do the same. To have women disciples was a purposefully revolutionary and liberating signal, especially since during this time, women were not considered worthy enough to learn anything of importance, let alone the things of God.
So, it is within this hostile context that Jesus embraces women as his disciples, not just to learn, but to learn along side men and to eventually preach and teach others. DURING, the famous Sermon on The Mount, while explaining the "upside-down" kingdom of God, He tells the crowd (made up of both men and women) that whoever keeps His Commands and teaches them to others will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.
"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."--Jesus, Matt. 5:19
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."--Jesus, Matt. 28:18-20
In the next few posts, we will examine Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan Woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, and some others. Then at long last, we will delve into Paul's letters, which are primarily sited to bar women from all levels of ministry.