Deputy Principal - Mission and Faith

2016 – The Year of the Gospel of Luke Part 2

Following on from my previous article introducing the year of the Gospel of Luke I wish to focus on the role of women in Luke’s gospel.  Women for Luke play a significantly important role in the history of salvation and have equal dignity with men.  Mary and Elizabeth are there from Jesus’ birth (Lk 1-2) and women accompany Jesus from the beginning of his ministry in Galilee (Lk 8:1-3).  Other significant passages concerning women include:  Anna the prophet (Lk 2:36-38), the widow of Nain (Lk 7:11-15), the repentant sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet (Lk 7:36-50), Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42) and the crippled woman (Lk 13:10-17).  As well as these Luke uses women as a focus in some of Jesus’ parables.  There is the women expressing joy in God when finding the lost coin (Lk 15: 8-10) and the women rewarded for prayerful persistence (Lk 18: 1-8).

There is one passage in particular I am drawn too, the sinful women who anointed Jesus’ feet (Lk 7: 36-50). It has profound implications for the depth of our love and the expression of our devotion to Christ. Utterly undeterred by the daunting glares of the superior and self-righteous Pharisees, this repentant woman of the street entered a house and interrupted a meal to express to Jesus her devotion and indebtedness for His unconditional compassion on her. Unable to contain her emotion, she wept on Jesus’ feet, washing them with her tears and wiping them with her own hair!

Can you imagine any more graphic portrayal of abject, self-forgetful, unrestrained love for Jesus Christ? Anointing Jesus’ feet with a precious gift that underscored the depth of her gratitude, this woman embodies what it means to love Jesus Christ with absolute abandon. And the Lord used her spirit and her actions to teach the incredulous on looking theologians around the table that those who love most are those who are most conscious of the debt from which Jesus has released them and of the bondage from which they have been liberated. Those who love Christ deeply are those who have deeply thought on Christ’s love for them. Those who love little, those who know nothing of the soul-experience of this woman, those to whom it is but a strange form of religious excess, only display the destitution of their own souls; their awareness of what Jesus has done for them is shallow indeed. One of the most profound truths of the Christian experience was taught by a woman—and only Luke records it.

There is no occasion in Luke nor in any other Gospel of “a woman being hostile to Christ.” It is also significant that, with the single exception of the apostle John, we have no clear record of where the rest of the disciples were during Jesus’ crucifixion. Yet all three synoptic Gospels call specific attention to the women who were present at the crucifixion as “eyewitnesses to the events that compose the heart of the gospel message.” We know where the women were; where were the men?

In the next Newsletter I will share Luke’s motif of the end of time with God as a party, a Banquet.