Women in the Church

#5. Women in Jesus' Ministry

September 29, 2021 Corina Espejo, Travis Albritton, Jason Alexander
#5. Women in Jesus' Ministry
Women in the Church
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Women in the Church
#5. Women in Jesus' Ministry
Sep 29, 2021
Corina Espejo, Travis Albritton, Jason Alexander

In this episode, Jason Alexander joins us to discuss the prominent role women played in Jesus' ministry and why choosing only men to be the first apostles might not mean what we think it means.

Questions we'll answer in this episode:

  • Why do four infamous women show up in the genealogy of Jesus?
  • How much did Jesus' ministry share in common with rabbinic tradition at the time?
  • Why were no women chosen for the Twelve?

Sign up to receive Bible study guides, handouts, and resources that complement what you learn in this podcast by going to WomenChurchPodcast.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Jason Alexander joins us to discuss the prominent role women played in Jesus' ministry and why choosing only men to be the first apostles might not mean what we think it means.

Questions we'll answer in this episode:

  • Why do four infamous women show up in the genealogy of Jesus?
  • How much did Jesus' ministry share in common with rabbinic tradition at the time?
  • Why were no women chosen for the Twelve?

Sign up to receive Bible study guides, handouts, and resources that complement what you learn in this podcast by going to WomenChurchPodcast.com

Travis Albritton [00:00:01]:
Welcome back to the women in the church podcast, where we take a fresh look at what the Bible says about women in church for the ICOC. If you're no stranger to the podcast, you know who I am. Travis Saul Britton. And joining me for one more round is Jason Alexander. But then, as always, Karina, just holding down the fort, making sure we stay on topic.

Corina Espejo [00:00:23]:
Love it.

Travis Albritton [00:00:24]:
So today we kind of teased this. In the last episode, we're going to be talking about Jesus's ministry. And the reason that we're bringing Jason Back, our resident hebrew speaker, is because in a lot of ways, we can misread the ministry of Jesus from our perspective, looking backwards. But the audience for Jesus in his ministry as he was alive were the Israelites. And so, especially if we're going to fully understand Paul's references to Jesus as a lens to look back into the Old Testament and about the nature of Jesus ministry being a continuation and a fulfillment of the redemption of creation through this messianic figure, it's important for us to understand the jewishness of Jesus ministry. So, Jason, hope you're up to the task, and I look forward to hearing what you have to share.

Jason Alexander [00:01:16]:
We'll see. Yeah, let's see what damage we can do.

Travis Albritton [00:01:20]:
So let's kick things off with the beginning of the New Testament, Matthew, chapter one. We start with one of the genealogies, recorded genealogies of Jesus. The other one appears in the book of Luke. But in Matthew we get this genealogy, culminating with his father Joseph. So one thing you will think as you're reading through this, especially if you listen to that last episode, is you notice these aren't all men listed here. Even though Israel was traced genealogically through the male, there are actually some very infamous women in this list. So, Jason, kind of walk us through what we should pull from that as we read through this list and we see these women in particular mentioned in the way that they are.

Jason Alexander [00:02:05]:
Yeah, you mentioned Jesus backdrop or cultural heritage, and I think that's important for getting a handle on the significance or weightiness of Jesus Christ. There's a way of reading the Bible that wants to break the New Testament off from the narrative set forth in hebrew scripture, and it results in a very strange understanding of Jesus Christ. And so you have to take on board. And again, I don't want to overwhelm anyone. I'm not saying finish the Old Testament before you crack the new. That's not my point. But my point is, at some point you will have to do that. You will have to finish the Old Testament, you will have to read through it, because Jesus isn't appearing out of thin air or like some kind of drastic left turn, because things that God wanted in the Old Testament failed.

Jason Alexander [00:03:02]:
And so now Jesus comes to start Christianity. There was Judaism, now there's Christianity. In the very first words of the New Testament, if you were to start at the beginning of the Bible and read to the end, which I think we should, in the Old Testament, you'd leave the book of Malachi the way it's organized in Hebrew Bible, you would come out of chronicles. And either way, it would put Jesus on familiar ground, because the very first words, the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abram, Abraham. And I think that's really important because in one sentence, it's told a whole story. If you're not dialed in to Abraham, you know, you have to see Jesus as one of Abraham's kids. You have to see Jesus as connected to that story we talked about in Genesis, chapter 1130, when he calls Abram and Sarai. Jesus is a part of that story, not some other one.

Jason Alexander [00:04:03]:
We didn't talk much about David, but of course, David is another significant stopping point within the hebrew scripture. So the gospel sets out to tell Jesus as a sort of culmination, a climax of an ongoing, or at least one massive climax of an ongoing story. And so I may have said nothing by pointing that out, but as someone who teaches the Bible in our churches, more times than not, that's a surprise for people. And I understand why. But it's important that that become less and less the case. And this text goes on. It's elaborate, actually. I think this genealogy, which many of us would find boring, is so incredibly involved in the way that it's structured.

Jason Alexander [00:04:52]:
It's not actually doing just mere history, like, it's trying to get every single name from beginning to end of Jesus. It's actually doing theology, and it's telling a story. And it's doing so in a way that would lead us to see Jesus as the climax of that story. So they bring in people. We wouldn't have them bring in associating them with the messiah. There's four women. What are they? Let's see. So we got Tamar, we got Rahav, we got Ruth, and we got Bathsheba.

Jason Alexander [00:05:24]:
All women in their own right who have suspect checkered pasts, right. But despite some of the controversy surrounding their lives, they are real examples of faith and examples of how God got Israel here, how God is implementing his will for all creation. And it would be, again, despite the patriarchal setting in which these texts come to us, from which they come to us. It would be an oversight, according to the authors, to not include these women because they play a significant role. And so it's worth going back and reading each of these stories. But, like, even, for example, you know, in the book of proverbs, one of the images that the father tells the son to beware of is the foreign woman. They can tend to be dangerous, and that comes to embody that which appeals to young men, which would tempt them to jump ship on their faith and heritage and just do whatever this beautiful foreign woman worship, whatever God they are told to. And that seems to be one of King Solomon's major temptations.

Jason Alexander [00:06:42]:
He ends up going to church with his wife to another God, to worship another God. But here you have in the genealogy of the Messiah, a foreign woman, an eshet heil. Remember, we talked about Ruth? And so again, it sets forth a picture of God who not only does he not discriminate, it's almost as if he wants to intentionally frustrate our assumptions. It's like, well, we wouldn't do things that way. And God's like, oh, you wouldn't do things that way? Well, that's exactly how I'm going to do it, because you're too small. Your thinking is too small. But in doing that, we're getting an insight into what God is like and what he values and what he thinks is important. So the fact that these women are included, we should not just like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, there's four women, but it's mostly men.

Jason Alexander [00:07:31]:
Like, no, four women's enough to tip the scales toward, like, okay, something. Something unique is happening here. So just to kind of tie up that thread that we talked about, the new covenant in Jesus Christ is a continuation of God's will. And so whatever Jesus is going to do, he has to keep in step with that story. Any ridiculously radical break with that story would be nonsensical. Now, there will be discontinuity. He'll do things that will surprise. But for the most part, he's trying to embody that story.

Jason Alexander [00:08:07]:
So that will be important. When we want to ask questions about why do women not do a, B and C or X, Y and Z in Jesus's ministry? The answer will have something to do with the fact that Jesus is unfolding an ongoing narrative.

Corina Espejo [00:08:21]:
So staying on brand with what we're talking about, how God does take the underdog or the unlikely hero or impossible circumstances. Right. Or these situations that we think are less than honorable, quote unquote, he takes these people, he takes these circumstances to insert his godness. Right. His Majesty. Right. And so let's continue with this theme. We've been talking about the genealogy of Jesus and leading up to Jesus.

Corina Espejo [00:08:52]:
Let's start talking about some of these other women who continue on that same thread of thought. So we have Mary. Right. The mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. We have Mary and Martha. Samaritan woman. What can you help us kind of draw from these women as we continue on that thought?

Jason Alexander [00:09:10]:
Yeah. It won't be a surprise that women play a massive role in the early church in terms of what we'd call evangelization. Right. The spread of the gospel, especially in places like Rome. But women always seen as instrumental to the growth of the church. And that is, I think, taking its cues from how women operated around Jesus. Right. I mean, it's just the logical next step is to do what they see being done in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Jason Alexander [00:09:45]:
So there's a number of women, but the first one that jumps to mind, if it was like, hey, who do you find interesting in terms of women in the gospel? I think John chapter four is really interesting. This story deals with racial, cultural, and gender issues. Foreign isn't the right word, but certainly she was a samaritan, and it was. There's a whole checkered history there about how you get a group called Samaritans, but they're functionally kind of like a half breed, and they hold different understandings. The holiest place is not Jerusalem. I mean, so there's all kinds of disagreements about who God is, how you worship him, and Jesus at a well meets this woman. I just want to bring this up, too. Wells are significant in the story of the Bible.

Jason Alexander [00:10:32]:
It's like an image of fertility and life. You know, this is the place from which water springs forth into the earth and you can irrigate from there. So it'd be like the best title for a singles conference like the well, because it'd be like, this is where you meet women. Way to meet women is to go to a well. So it's interesting because the patriarchs find their wives. Moses finds his wife at a well, and here's Jesus and his disciples go off, and, you know, he doesn't take her as his wife, but he engages her in this conversation about hope and worship. And he starts talking to her about her own life, and she says something like, yeah, I've heard the messiah. We're told the messiah is going to come.

Jason Alexander [00:11:20]:
And then in a way that should kind of make our jaws drop, he says, I am he who is speaking to you. I'm the messiah. He discloses himself to this foreign woman, kind of reimagining an old trope from the hebrew scriptures about a woman at a well and revealing himself to a foreign woman in a way he hasn't so far in the gospel of John really come out and said to anyone else, this is the first time he's entrusting himself to a woman in a way that we should be like, oh, that's interesting, because up to that point in John's gospel, it's been more an issue of signs that he's been trying to draw attention to who he is. But here is a full on, like, verbal disclosure, I am the Messiah. So whatever you're going to do with that, don't just ignore it. That's something. So there's an instance of God revealing himself to a woman, and it's not the last time that's going to happen in Jesus ministry.

Travis Albritton [00:12:17]:
So a couple of other notable women that we see in Jesus ministry are Mary and Martha. There's actually quite a few marys in the gospels, but this is the family of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. And in Luke, chapter ten, we get this really interesting vignette into what it was like to follow Jesus around, and we see this cultural clash between the expectation of how women should interact in this rabbi followers dynamic and what Jesus instead says is best. So, Korina, why don't you read this story for us? And then, Jason, if you could offer any kind of things that you notice or that jump out to you in the context of our conversation, that would be great.

Corina Espejo [00:13:00]:
Luke 1038 says, while they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary who also sat at the Lord's feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand. The Lord answered her. Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.

Jason Alexander [00:13:32]:
Yeah. Wow.

Corina Espejo [00:13:33]:
That was the holman christian standard bible.

Jason Alexander [00:13:35]:
I love this. And I've wondered if over the years, we've been unnecessarily hard on Martha because. And, yeah, I mean, the way she comes off, I mean, I don't want to live like that, where it's like, dang it, I'm so busy. You know, like, someone give me a hand. Like, that just sounds awful. But I think, you know, the whole, like, are you a Martha or a Mary? It's not fair because, I mean, presumably she's doing what she should do. Again, we have to try to imagine, and the only way we can do that is through study and research and try to imagine life for a woman in greco roman world, in Judea, in a province of the roman empire. I mean, and we've mentioned this, but they play a role in the home.

Jason Alexander [00:14:21]:
Again, that's not bad. That's not a way of demeaning women. We've already mentioned how important the home is, but I think we should see this as she's doing what you should do, and Mary's the one that's out of step here. If anything we say, don't be like Mary, because she's just, she's abandoning her post, you know, like, she's not. She's not doing what women are known for, for doing. And what's interesting about that is Jesus does not have a problem with it. In fact, you go so far to say he's happy about it. And so there's different ways of interpreting this.

Jason Alexander [00:14:59]:
But from my vantage point, what's going on here is she's joining the men. My assumption is that men are the disciples of a rabbi. They're the ones going to Yeshiva. They're the ones going to, I mean, to this day, they're going to study and learn and become rabbis. And here you have a woman showing up in that gathering, sitting there like, it's not a big deal. And the other women are like, come on, you can't just cross that boundary like, yeah, Jesus is an important person, but you can't just like, throw out our way of life. And Jesus is like, oh, no, you can. And so this is a statement, I think, about what Jesus imagines a woman should be doing is permitted to do, and it probably would be scandalous.

Jason Alexander [00:15:51]:
Now, you could find someone to take a different route with this and come to a different conclusion, but they would still have to deal with what I've just said because it is a logical way of dealing with this passage, I think, especially when you look at how, quote, discipleship work. That's the word you'll tell mudim. I mean, that's the idea of disciple learner. They weren't women. So potentially, a woman is being given space to do what? Up to that point, men really only did so Jesus finds himself then, at the center of a whole new way of understanding religious life with regard to gender. Yeah, I don't know. Is there more? I mean, what do you guys think?

Travis Albritton [00:16:31]:
No, I think that's a good observation, and I think that's rolls right into help us understand that dynamic. It's very different than the way that we often think about discipleship. Right. So, like, if I was to be your disciple, Jason, I would live in your house and, like, I would imitate the way you make coffee.

Jason Alexander [00:16:47]:
Yeah. Oh, you'd be better for it. Make a mean cup. Yep, that's true. Yeah.

Travis Albritton [00:16:53]:
So I think that's helpful and understanding, like, the backdrop of that.

Jason Alexander [00:16:58]:

Travis Albritton [00:16:58]:
That religious nature of schooling for a jewish boy, the aspiration was to be selected by a rabbi, to be good enough to be selected. And if you're a woman, there's not even an entry point for that.

Jason Alexander [00:17:11]:
And some of that probably has to do with the development of Israel, reimagining her identity coming out of the exile. And you see all kinds of struggles with that in places like Isaiah 56 through 66, Ezra, Nehemiah. I mean, these texts towards the latter end of the exile, where they're coming back home, you know, who gets to do what? And what's the role of women and the foreigner and the eunuch. And so it's a whole complicated thing going on there. The challenge with the rabbinic schools or the Beit Talmudim or Beit Sefer. Like, you know, there's all these theories that, you know, whatever, by 13 years old, a child could. A male child could recite, you know, the whole entire Torah, you know, from memory. Well, that's the case, but there is this moment.

Jason Alexander [00:18:01]:
They call it the tanaanic tunnel. And you have the New Testament, then you have, like, a blackout, then you have the rabbis. And so it's a good substantial period of time in the first century where you don't have an account of this rabbinic behavior in the time of Jesus. So the controversy is, can you take what we learn from the rabbis, which are just a little bit after Jesus and retro rebuild backwards and say that was also happening in Jesus time? So some of that, it probably is. The controversy becomes, at what point is that not happening in Jesus ministry? And then at what point is he subverting what the norm was of his day? And so I'm just trying to be careful with that in the event that one of our parishioners or leaders has done any study. And they'll quickly, you'll get an email and say, what he said, isn't the case. So probably no one will. But, you know, Doug Jacoby hears this, like, forget about it.

Jason Alexander [00:19:09]:
I'll never work again.

Travis Albritton [00:19:13]:
I think that's an important note to recognize. Like, the study that we're doing, we are making, in some cases, educated assumptions.

Jason Alexander [00:19:22]:
Yeah, that's exactly right. Yeah.

Travis Albritton [00:19:24]:
We're making inferences.

Jason Alexander [00:19:25]:
Yep. Yep.

Travis Albritton [00:19:25]:
And this will become important, especially as we push into the letters and the teachings of Paul, where cultural setting is important. But we can't over index into that, because the mistake that we can make is we substitute what is in front of us.

Corina Espejo [00:19:41]:

Travis Albritton [00:19:41]:
Canonized scripture with conjecture about what it was like to live at a certain time and place, and we draw inferences that maybe we should not because we're putting them in a poor context.

Jason Alexander [00:19:53]:
Yeah, that's great. That's great.

Travis Albritton [00:19:55]:
So even though we talked about how all scripture has cultural underpinnings written from a group to a group with assumptions and we're trying to play a one sided game of telephone, it is also important to recognize where there are weaknesses in the assumptions that we make and just. Just acknowledge them up front.

Jason Alexander [00:20:14]:
Yeah. I love it. I love you bringing that up. Because it, again, drives home the point of a posture of humility as you approach these. And it's an exercise in learning to be humble, because I think if we're honest, we know what we'd like to see in these texts. We know what we want them to say. And so that doesn't mean you have to stack the deck against you, but it does mean you have to be very aware that when you're walking away from a passage with a specific reading, how and why you got there. And so I think this is why I want to be very careful.

Jason Alexander [00:20:50]:
And I think this is very important in framing the discussion about gender. And you've said it a number of times, like recognizing that for every argument in one direction, there's people just as smart and love Jesus just as much that will use that same passage to make a counter argument, and so they'll sound just as sure and as right as the other. And so at the end of the day, one has to find a place of humility, to prayerfully and humbly with one another. Those who disagree, dialogue. And I think the more you're aware of the axes that we have to grind or the things we'd like to see come from these texts, the easier it is to identify them and say, okay, I have biases. Let me just put them on display. Let me get them out in the open. So that we can try as much as possible to be objective.

Jason Alexander [00:21:45]:
And I say try because who in the heck is really objective? Even the biblical authors aren't necessarily 100% objective. I mean, we all have a vantage point. So I think it's important when we do. You'll get this with Paul, but there's going to be all kinds of historical reconstruction you're going to have to do. And I think that's okay. I think God would want us to try to do that work to get there. What the best part of all of that is, is if you're sincere, it'll drive you to your knees in prayer. And I think ultimately that honors God.

Jason Alexander [00:22:16]:
So anyways. All right. End sermon.

Travis Albritton [00:22:20]:
That was, I think, an important aside.

Corina Espejo [00:22:21]:

Jason Alexander [00:22:22]:
Okay, good. Well, amen. Yeah.

Corina Espejo [00:22:23]:
And I love that. As we're talking about this, my first instinct is to think, okay, how have I either swung the way where I misuse the Bible. Right. To support what I'm saying, or do I swing the other way and do I misuse my experience. Right. And hold people hostage by my hurt or my, you know, my past? But to find a beautiful middle. And so. And I don't know if this is a frivolous connection now that we're talking about, you know, I don't know, making unnecessary connections.

Corina Espejo [00:22:53]:
When you were talking about Mary and Martha, because it is. What you mentioned is, I think, very applicable as a very visceral example that people do. Right. Bad Martha, good Mary. Right. But the reality is, I immediately thought about the story of Ruth, right. Bad orpah, good Ruth. But reality is Orpah was doing what was sensible culturally.

Jason Alexander [00:23:16]:

Corina Espejo [00:23:17]:
In the days where judges ruled, dun dun dun. Right. And Orpah makes the smart choice. Right?

Jason Alexander [00:23:24]:
Yeah. Right.

Corina Espejo [00:23:25]:
But Ruth, she makes the chesed choice. She makes the risky God choice beyond what's required. Beyond. And let's be real, she is harping on, I think, a character of God that she had learned from her family because she is a foreigner. Right. She's the Moabite. And she's probably spent, what, ten years it was with her family.

Jason Alexander [00:23:43]:
Yeah, enough to get married and lose a husband.

Corina Espejo [00:23:45]:
Yeah, enough to get married, lose a husband. But she kind of. It's almost like she draws from this character of God and says, I'm gonna make the risky choice. And oddly enough, what does she do? She ends up being the one who finds the kinsman, redeemer, bags the kinsman. Right. Deliver her for her family. But it's interesting. Orpah's not the bad one.

Corina Espejo [00:24:05]:
It's not like she's bad. She just made a sensible choice. She made an okay choice, one that was consistent with the culture. Right. And then you have here the same thing Martha doing. I mean, she's embodying the jewish ideals of hospitality.

Jason Alexander [00:24:19]:
You could argue she. Thank you, Martha. Because that's. It's amazing that you're doing that, setting an example, right.

Corina Espejo [00:24:26]:
But then you have these two women, Mary and Ruth, and then Jesus. For Mary, and I think, Ruth, in this narrative of the Old Testament, it's this gleam of hope and to say, wait a minute, pivot on the heart of God. Right. Do sometimes what is countercultural only if. Right. And it's only to pursue a humility and a pursuit of God, of his heart, of his wisdom, of Jesus teaching. Right. And we see similar things.

Corina Espejo [00:24:54]:
Right. One of the notes we made for this episode, we think about the group of women that followed Jesus around. Right. Supported his ministry, whether it was financially or, you know, so and so's mom's house. You know, they're, they're there like Luke eight one to three is what, what we have in our notes.

Jason Alexander [00:25:08]:
Luke eight one three. Okay.

Corina Espejo [00:25:09]:
Soon afterward, he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses. Mary called Magdalene, and she had seven demons had come out of her. Joanna, the wife of Chuza Herod's steward. And then you have Susannah and many others who were supporting them from their possessions. So we've got some breadwinners within the gospel. That sounds like included some women, which is. It's just interesting to look at these contributions.

Corina Espejo [00:25:46]:
And I think it would be sad on either direction to either make assumptions and draw conclusions that are not there, but also, too, to be so ignorant of them, to, again, promote another conclusion. How can we read this and stay honest to God's heart?

Jason Alexander [00:26:05]:
My impressions from this reality is it's not odd to have women included in what God is doing, because we just spent however many episodes before this describing that. That's always been the case. The forward momentum of God's plan rests in the hands of women as well as, you know, as men. So it shouldn't freak us out to see Jesus doing that. Of course, the question that I've heard posed in all kinds of different settings is why, if Jesus was so concerned about women and elevating their, their place in society and allowing them to have, you know, to empower them, why does he appoint twelve men. Why doesn't he throw a couple of women in there just to change things up? These three verses show that Luke is very careful to mention the women. And you don't want to waste too much space when you're writing your account of the gospel. It's not like you have an unlimited.

Jason Alexander [00:27:12]:
What is it? I don't know anything about computers. What do you need to type? Ram.

Travis Albritton [00:27:15]:
Yeah. Unlimited storage.

Jason Alexander [00:27:18]:
Unlimited storage. All right. Yeah, exactly right. Yeah, yeah. You know, there's an intentionality, especially with Luke, to include relevant information. But I think, first of all, to appoint a woman as one of the twelve apostles might do damage to the image that Jesus is setting forth. Because you have to keep this in mind. Twelve apostles isn't from the hip.

Jason Alexander [00:27:46]:
It'd be great to have. 1212 is a solid number. Certainly twelve is a relevant number in the Bible, but it's relevant for the apostles because it was relevant earlier in the Bible, especially with the tribes of Israel, and the tribal heads of Israel were men. And so to communicate a new Israel, which is exactly what Jesus is doing, he's embodying in his ministry. I wouldn't want to push this too far, but it's like Israel 2.0. It's like a reboot in a sense. It's kind of like that.

Travis Albritton [00:28:18]:
It rhymes. Jesus ministry rhymes with the story of the Old Testament.

Jason Alexander [00:28:21]:
It rhymes. Well said. I love that. Exactly. It rhymes in a way that completes the rhyme. It shows the renewed humanity within Israel. That was always God's plan. It's not as if God called Abram and the twelve tribes and he was going to do this great thing, but they were so stinking disobedient that he had to start over with Jesus.

Jason Alexander [00:28:46]:
In fact, there's a moment where this is in Mark, right? A foreign woman comes to Jesus and says, heal my daughter. And Jesus says, oh, no, I'm here for the lost of Israel. I'm not here to help foreigners. And you'd be tempted to walk away thinking, well, Jesus really is a racist. He couldn't help a poor foreign woman, and he eventually does help her. So that totally knocks that argument out of the sky anyways. But the point I'm making is that he says, I'm sent here for Israel. And he's clueing in on something from like, Isaiah, chapter 49, where God turns to the prophet and he says, my servant Israel is too blind to be a servant.

Jason Alexander [00:29:26]:
So I'm going to need you to be the servant, and I need you to go open the eyes of my servant, the blind it gets really confusing. But Jesus's mission is not to start something brand new, but to rehabilitate the rescue team, that salvation might continue to reverberate out from them. He doesn't change plans, he heals what is lacking, that the plan might go forward. So to put women at the head of this, reconfiguring the tribes of Israel, might be a bridge too far in terms of understanding what's going on. I think that's how I would deal with that. We shouldn't take it as a comment that, well, see, if he really trusted women, he would have put them in control. Well, I think that's Luke's point here, is to highlight all these women, to say, no, no, no, don't get it twisted. There's twelve apostles.

Jason Alexander [00:30:16]:
But were it not for these women, it wouldn't have sailed. This is just a further example of the fact that we help each other. Man and woman are a package deal. And I think these verses show that the image of God is men and women. I'd be more alarmed if it was just men and these women didn't show up, then it'd be easier to say, yeah, like he didn't even include them.

Travis Albritton [00:30:36]:
I think those are all really good. Some observations that I think about are how Jesus was very deliberate in everything he did.

Jason Alexander [00:30:43]:

Travis Albritton [00:30:43]:
Drawing connections to that messianic Christ imagery from the Old Testament, like calling himself the son of man is not a coincidence. Just read Daniel chapter seven.

Jason Alexander [00:30:55]:

Travis Albritton [00:30:56]:
And it's like, whoa. When he says that, that's what he is referring to. And so the question is not why did he choose men? Why did he choose twelve jewish men when reaching the people of Israel? That is the question, right? Yeah, because otherwise you could extrapolate and say, well, if you're not jewish, then you can't be a leader in the new covenant because Jesus only chose jewish men.

Jason Alexander [00:31:22]:
Oh, that is a great point. Right? It's not just that women were excluded by virtue of what he's doing. Everyone who's not a jewish male is excluded. It's just route some traditions end up taking that only, you know, this is the 144,000 only get into heaven based on overly rigid readings of these numbers.

Travis Albritton [00:31:42]:
Which is great until you have more than 144,000 members in your denomination, and then you have to rethink some things or start kicking people out. Sorry, that's a little Jehovah's Witness joke there.

Jason Alexander [00:31:52]:
Yeah, that's right.

Travis Albritton [00:31:53]:
And so I think that's really important because we can read the gospels as new covenant first rather than a continuation of the story of the Old Testament breaking into this new covenant that we now live in. And the other thing I think, is we often conflate the idea of the law being no longer holding the same weight in our lives as far as expectations.

Jason Alexander [00:32:15]:
Oh, yeah, that's another big one.

Travis Albritton [00:32:17]:
And then now that becomes a lens to dismiss the jewishness of Jesus ministry and repurpose it in our own minds, to say, well, those things aren't relevant to us anymore. Like, we're not holding these festivals and every seven years making sure that our backyard herb gardens get a rest. We're not doing those things. But we can, without even knowing it, strip the jewishness out of Jesus ministry and miss the very direct inferences that he is making to the Old Testament to help the people he is reaching, see that he is, in fact, this culmination of what they have been looking for.

Jason Alexander [00:32:57]:
I love that. I remember it's been a few decades now, but when I first read nt writes New Testament and the people of God, he describes the narrative of scripture, and he uses a metaphor of a five act play. And we tend to talk about the story of scripture as creation, fall, redemption, whatever, completion. But he says there's an important part of the story that if you overlook it, it doesn't fit anymore, and it's Israel. And so he says, you have creation, they fall, but then you have Israel. And that peace can't be overlooked. It's God's will for the salvation of all the nations. Through this vehicle, Israel, whom he loves.

Jason Alexander [00:33:45]:
And Israel is like this jewel on display for all creation. Look how much God loves her. She's an inclusive community. She's here to grab hold of the rest of the nations and include her in the love of God. And so you get rid of that. You're sawing off the branch you're sitting on, to use a metaphor. Right? And this is the problem with marcion. This is the problem with overly westernized religion like history of religions approach to Jesus, because you have to take on board 100% the narrative of the Old Testament, because it's that story that only makes Jesus have any relevance, not just for Jews, but for every gentile as well.

Jason Alexander [00:34:32]:
And it denigrates the love of God that is on full display. It gives you no reference points for the love of God and Jesus Christ. So I love that you said everything Jesus is doing is. I mean, again, I think we mentioned this at one point, but there's a kind of narrative art in the Bible where it's so detailed, Jesus is so thoughtful, these authors are so thoughtful that it's almost as if every word is soaked in some other image. There's an economy of language and vocabulary, and they're trying, within the space allotted to them, pack in meaning under every nook and cranny.

Corina Espejo [00:35:10]:
So as we're talking about just really reorienting ourselves and making sure that as we're reading and as we're talking about the New Testament, because that's where we're at right now, we've moved off of the Old Testament. We're kind of looking at this beautiful story, and we're getting ready to tell the world about the story. Because if I'm hearing this correctly, we have our twelve apostles. And it seems very intentional, the way that Jesus chose his apostles to draw Israel back to, I think, prophecies that he is fulfilling, right. And the twelve tribes, and it being this visibly and symbolically connection to Jesus ministry to Israel as the Messiah, right, as the Christ figure. And if we're staying within that same narrative, staying within the heart of God, who uses again these underdogs, unlikely heroes, he doesn't want us to limit what we think he can do by choosing the unlikely or the dire situations. Now we have, as the first person to tell the world about Jesus resurrection. Right.

Corina Espejo [00:36:16]:
It's the completion of this prophecy and he reveals it to a woman. Right. Talk to us a little bit about this.

Jason Alexander [00:36:25]:
You know, once again, it's, you know, I want to be very, very clear here is that we're drawing conclusions based not on an explicit statement, but on what I think are highly symbolic gestures in these passages about the resurrection. It's unique that women are, in fact, the, they've been called the evangelist to the evangelists. Evangelist comes from the word gospel. That's the idea here. But they're the first ones to herald the news that everything in creation has changed. I mean, what they bring to the table is the biggest thing to happen in the entire history of human beings since creation. And they're carrying with them a message that is so scandalizing that jewish people, at least many parts of Judaism within Jesus day, believed in resurrection, though it seems they thought about it as happening at the end of history, not in the middle of it. And so that would be by itself.

Jason Alexander [00:37:25]:
There's even a moment in the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, Mary and Martha's brother in John, chapter eleven. And Lazarus dies. And she says to Jesus, if you were here, my brother wouldn't have died. And he said, your brother will rise again. And she says, of course, at the end of the age, we all know that. But Jesus responds with, no, no, no. I am the resurrection. I am the life.

Jason Alexander [00:37:54]:
The notion that someone would rise from the dead in the middle of history would mean a brand new reality has been inaugurated. So that's weighty information. You don't entrust something like that to the wrong person or you find that the message itself gets contaminated and lost. So it feels very honest that women are carrying this message. If you wanted to lend any credibility to your movement, don't do it this way. You know, it's like there is, I think, a subversion of expectation here, here, that, you know, wait a second. I was good with you until you had the like. The fact that you let women be the breakers of this news puts the whole movement under suspicion because they're not reliable sources for many of our more patriarchally minded listeners.

Jason Alexander [00:38:48]:
Right. But it's intentional that the news would be brought to the disciples. The first encounter with the post resurrected Messiah are women. And they were women whom Jesus obviously loved immensely, right? Like, they were close to him, good, good friends, and they cared for him. So I don't know if he looks at these women almost like mother figures or aunts or big sisters. I don't know. But he loves them and they love him, and they break the news. And it's funny, like in Luke in the story with the two disciples walking to the town, walking to Emmaus, and they're all dejected.

Jason Alexander [00:39:32]:
It's the third day. Jesus has been dead for some time now, and they're sad. And then Jesus shows up, as he normally does after his resurrection in a way that's hard to understand. That's like, you get the regular encounter with Jesus after his resurrection is like, jesus, is that you? You like, they're not sure. There's something different, perhaps. Or they're such surprise that they can't get their head around Jesus having raised from the dead, and he's next to them and he's like, what are you all talking about? Are you new around here? You should know Jesus. We thought he was a prophet. He's dead now.

Jason Alexander [00:40:13]:
He's like, and that really is hard. But here's what makes it worse. Some of our women today came and showed up and said, he's alive. And they went to the tomb to look for him in the material body. His actual physical body is not there. They're not suggesting his ghost rose from the dead. They're suggesting he got up and walked out. And we're troubled by this.

Jason Alexander [00:40:41]:
And so you should be troubled by the idea of a resurrection, but also that it's coming from women, and they went to verify it. They're like, yeah, it's just like they said, jesus is gone. And so it's kind of hanging in the air. Like these women said, this is it going to be true? And lo and behold, it's true. Right in front of these two disciples walking. They go back home, and it's even more true. It's interesting the way this unfolds. So if any of the things that I just said are right, and I wouldn't have said them if I didn't at least think they're right.

Jason Alexander [00:41:10]:
So if that's right. And then again, we find women being set forth as credible loved witnesses of God's new movement. And it's not a break. It's not a left turn. We already saw this throughout Genesis and judges and Samuel. I mean, this is not news to us as Bible readers that women play a significant role.

Travis Albritton [00:41:37]:
That's great, Jason. And if you're listening to this and you're thinking, man, they're really going out of their way to really drive this point home. You are correct. You are correct.

Jason Alexander [00:41:45]:

Travis Albritton [00:41:46]:
Do not think, however, that that does not mean we will not have surprises as we continue reading the New Testament, that to this point, things have been relatively consistent. But we will run into some passages that are hotly debated and discussed, and we will see what we can make of them. And then the other thing that I'll say, and I'm not even sure if I'll leave this in there. Hopefully, even as you have listened to these episodes, it is a mystery where the three of us sit on this issue.

Jason Alexander [00:42:17]:
Oh, good. I hope so.

Travis Albritton [00:42:19]:
That to this point, you still don't know where Jason, Korina or I land on some of these fundamental questions we're trying to answer, and that is very intentional. That is very intentional. We do not want you taking sides and being like, well, I. Whatever Korina says, that's what I. That's what I'm gonna think. Or Jason, he's really smart. He speaks other languages. Whatever he says, I'm gonna think that, yeah.

Travis Albritton [00:42:39]:
We are very intentionally not inserting to the best of our abilities, our own opinions about the end goal that we're driving towards. And that's because we want you to be good bereans. We want you to really study this out for yourself, to really pray through it, think through it.

Jason Alexander [00:42:55]:

Travis Albritton [00:42:55]:
Develop your own convictions around this, and we trust that you are going to do that. We trust that the Holy Spirit is going to be at work as you wrestle through some of these teachings and concepts. And we're just excited to see what God chooses to do with us as a movement, as we continue to seek out what his will is for us and how we minister together.

Jason Alexander [00:43:15]:
That's great. We should stage like an argument between the three of us. They're just screaming at each other, you're wrong.

Corina Espejo [00:43:23]:
You're wrong.

Travis Albritton [00:43:26]:
Karina, why don't you wrap us up with some practical takeaways that we can leave this episode with.

Corina Espejo [00:43:31]:
As we've been talking about the Old Testament, moving on to the New Testament, what I'm hearing, and it's a beautiful thing and not necessarily directly related to gender, but absolutely involves it, God takes in our human minds things that are unreliable and he makes them credible. And oftentimes we can say, oh, well, women, they're unreliable or they shouldn't be this or they shouldn't do that. And likewise, we might do the same for men. But God says, no, no, no, I'm going to trust what you all think are incapable, and I'm going to give them something as incredible like the gospel, the gospel news and what that means for all creation and redemption. And so as we move forward and we talk about women in the church, just, I love taking away that God and even take away for me as a woman, just as a human being, let's be real. We're all a little ratchet. We're all a little, you know, we got our issues, but God takes us as humanity, gives us shared responsibility to further the gospel, to further this incredible good news that God loves us and that he wants to be with us. So I love talking about these women in the New Testament and yeah, what.

Jason Alexander [00:44:43]:
That means for me, that's awesome. Well, and let me say, it's been a joy for me to talk through this stuff with you, and I'm praying that it opens doors for new and humble discussion about what it means to be made in God's image. I am grateful for the posture you guys are taking with this discussion. You know, this has the potential to harm many. And so I'm grateful for this, this opportunity to talk with you all about this.

Travis Albritton [00:45:17]:
Well, thanks for the vote of confidence.

Corina Espejo [00:45:20]:
Yes, Jason, thank you for joining us. It's been fun, for sure.

Travis Albritton [00:45:25]:
That wraps up this episode of the podcast. Make sure to sign up for the companion newsletter and resources@womenchurchpodcast.com. And in the next episode, we're going to take a short break from our Bible study survey to jump back and talk about some more tools, some Bible study tools we will need to have readily available at our disposal to understand the different ways we can read the New Testament and how they impact the way that we understand and apply scripture.