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Sabbath School Lessons on Luke
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 6: Women in the Ministry of Jesus *
Introduction: One morning this week I read an article reporting that
women are treated like animals in many places of the world. I don't
personally know if that is true, but I am sure that in some places
now, and in Jesus' time, women did not have equal status with men.
How did Jesus relate to women? What lessons can we learn for today?
Let's jump into our study of Luke and find out!
- Read Luke 2:36-37. When we studied the second chapter of
Luke, we ended before we got to the story about Anna.
Would you like to have been Anna? (She has real tragedy in
her life, her husband dies seven years after they are
married. She never remarries, and apparently never has any
- How would you react if this happened to you?
- How does Anna react? (She devotes her life to service
- How does God react to this woman's devotion amid
tragedy? (She was a prophetess, which means God spoke
- Read Luke 2:38. Who is "them" in this verse? (The context
is Luke 2:25-34. "Them" is Mary, Joseph, Simeon and the
- How else does God reward Anna for her faithfulness?
(She seems to have no children, but she is one of the
very first to be introduced to the Son of God.)
- When I read in Luke 2:37 about Anna's typical day, I
am not anxious to trade jobs. How does Luke 2:38
expand our understanding of her daily activities?
(Her worship, fasting and praying involved telling
those "looking forward to the redemption of
Jerusalem" the good news about Jesus. Consider her
job now. For those coming to the temple to sacrifice
and worship, she teaches them that the fulfillment of
the temple worship system has come!)
- Read Exodus 38:8. What does this suggest about the nature
of Anna's job? (Apparently, she held the traditional role
of women who "served" at the entrance to the sanctuary.)
- Read 1 Timothy 2:12-13. On what does Paul base this
teaching? (The creation account.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. What does this say about
women in the church? (It says they cannot speak.)
- Do you know of any church that does not allow women
to speak at all?
- One very important rule about understanding God's will is
that we must see what the entire Bible says on a subject,
not just one or two verses. Look again at Luke 2:38. Is
Anna acting contrary to the limitations in 1 Timothy and 1
Corinthians? (Yes. "She never left the temple" - so her
words took place in "church." When she "spoke about the
child to all ... looking forward to the redemption" she
was teaching visitors that Jesus was the Messiah. When
Luke tells us that she was a prophetess, it means that God
communicated through her. God approves of her activities,
for He rewards her for her faithfulness.)
- Can Anna's activities be reconciled with the
teachings of Paul? (I'm a teacher who admits what he
does not know. I've not yet worked this out, but I do
think it is significant that in 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul
says this is his personal practice ("I do not
permit"). I've never been in a church where women
were not allowed to speak at all, which suggests that
no one in authority in my sphere reads 1 Corinthians
14:34 as reflecting God's will.)
- Mary and Martha
- Read Luke 10:38. What is Martha? (A homeowner. It must
have been a sizable home to accommodate Jesus and the
- Read Luke 10:39-40. Does Martha have a fair request? (Why
is Jesus the one to make this decision? I suppose it is
because Mary is listening to Jesus, and it might be very
impolite to tell her to stop listening.)
- Read Luke 10:41-42. Which would you be, Martha or Mary? (I
fear that I would be Martha - getting things done.)
- What is Mary doing that is better? (Listening to
- The Martha in me says, "Would you still have the
"only one thing is needed" attitude Jesus when it
comes time to eat and nothing is prepared?"
- Let's consider the wider lesson here. What do you
think the culture suggested was the proper role for
women? (Doing what Martha was doing.)
- What is Jesus saying the "better" role is for
women? (Spiritual training.)
- Is this just a time-limited thing? Mary can get
back to cooking and cleaning after Jesus
- What does this story teach those of us to tend to be
like Martha? (Being worried and upset is not
something that is "needed" in our life.)
- Women Philanthropists
- Read Luke 8:1-3. What has Jesus done for these women? (He
healed them of whatever problem beset them. In addition,
Jesus allows them to travel with Him.)
- Re-read Luke 8:3. Why do you think Luke mentions that the
women were financially supporting Jesus and the disciples?
(This shows the depth of their love and care for Jesus.
They put their money where their hearts were. It also says
something about Jesus and His male disciples who were
willing to be supported by women.)
- Mary the Courtesan
- Read Luke 7:36. Jesus generally has problems with
Pharisees. Why would a Pharisee invite Jesus to dinner?
- Read Luke 7:37-38. How did this woman get into the
Pharisee's home? (This suggests that it was a large home
with a lot of people eating.)
- Why is this woman doing this? (It seems that Jesus
has done something for her that has touched her
heart. She cries when she thinks of what Jesus has
done for her.)
- Read Luke 7:39. Would you notice this if you were Jesus?
- Gentlemen, how would you react if this happened to
you? (If she were not crying, I would consider this
kissing and touching to be a suggestion of a sexual
- How would you interpret the Pharisee's thoughts:
"what kind of woman" and "she is a sinner?" (Some
commentators say that she is not a prostitute,
because that conclusion is not required by the
language. Since we are all sinners, I'm inclined to
think this is not a comment about the general state
of humanity, rather she had some sexual mistakes in
her past. That, of course, fits with the idea that
the Pharisee probably saw this as I would - an
invitation of a sexual nature.)
- Read Matthew 26:7. What does this add to the debate
about the nature of this woman's approach? (She would
not use "very expensive" perfume if this was a
- Read Luke 7:40-43. Would you give the same answer as Simon
- Read Luke 7:44-47. Apply this to your church. Do those
who have been "good" all of their life have less depth of
emotion about the gospel and God? (I think this is true.)
- Notice an odd statement, Jesus says "her many sins
have been forgiven - for she loved much." Are sins
forgiven based on our love? What about grace? (Jesus
describes an attitude. I don't think forgiveness is a
matter of mere words, it is a matter of attitude.
Jesus says this woman has great gratitude over being
saved from her sins. That gratitude becomes love.)
- When you realize that God has forgiven some
great sin of yours, does that increase your
love for Jesus?
- Read Luke 7:48-50. Tell me about the contrast between this
unnamed woman and Simon the Pharisee. Who is the real
religious leader? Who is the one who is properly serving
God? Who is being taught here?
- Friend, we can see from these stories that God values
women. He honored Anna by bringing Jesus to her. God
entrusted Anna with His message to temple visitors that
Jesus has come. Jesus considered the religious education
of Mary more important than ordinary work. Jesus used a
sinful woman to teach an important lesson about love to a
Pharisee. God uses women to teach! Will you study further
regarding the role of women in ministry?
- Next week: Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Prayer.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.