WWJD. This is a slogan worn as a wrist band by many. It's purpose is to remind the wearer to live with Jesus in mind as an example and do what you believe He would do in the circumstances of life. It may be a good philosophy of life, but as a theology of living the christian life? I don't think so.
Biblical christianity is, as Paul said in Galatians 2:20, our having been crucified with Christ, nevertheless, we live; yet it is not us living, but Christ living through us: and the life we now live in the flesh [body] we live through the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us. That is a bit more involved than doing what we think Jesus might do in a given situation.
However, that said, there is something to observing how Jesus lived. In Hebrews 12:2 He is said to be the "pioneer" of our faith. When we live empowered by the indwelling Spirit creating the reality of Christ in us, it will not look fundamentally different than He did as He lived 2000 years ago on this planet. That Spirit will create in us that same love, compassion, mercy, faith, steadfastness, forgiveness and relationship styles that were seen in the thirty-three earthly years of our pioneer of the faith.
So, to see how Jesus related to women in life and in ministry might be a helpful thing. Let's do just that. WWJD?
The culture in which Jesus lived and ministered did not do very well with regards to women. It will not be necessary to speak much on this point as it is well documented in recorded history. I will just remind us that the Religious leaders of the day had a terrible track record with their attitude toward the female gender. One first century Rabbi, Eliezer, put it this way..."Rather should the words of the Torah [scriptures] be burned than entrusted to a woman. Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her laciviousness." Pretty tough view of women don't you think?
An historian notes that another Rabbi said..."He who speaks much with a woman [in context referring to his wife] draws down misfortune on himself, neglects the words of the law and, finally, earns hell." [That's a woman you live with. Other women were treated worse.]
Remember, these were the words of the religious leaders who taught the people. They WERE believed by the way.
A final historical note about the culture Jesus lived in using Rabbinical sayings. [A Rabbinical saying would be much like an axiom or a statement generally accepted as true in our day.]
"It is well for those whose children are male, but ill for those whose children are female."
"At the birth of a boy there is joy, but at the birth of a girl there is great sadness."
"When a boy comes into this world, peace has come, but with the coming of a girl, nothing."
"Even the most virtuous woman is a witch."
"Four qualities are evident in women: they are greedy at their food, eager to gossip, lazy and jealous."
[And we haven't even spoken of marriage and divorce yet.]
When the gospel writers were, under inspiration, giving the record they gave, there is no doubt they would have recorded any actions of Jesus that might have reflected this bias toward women had there been any, because it would be the normal way of life for men. There was none. Quite to the contrary, His life and ministry reflected just the opposite. There was an intential elevation of women to an equality that was totally foreign to that culture. Let's see how.
He taught them. This in and of itself was culture shattering. They were part of His discipleship group. In Luke 8 it says in v1 "His twelve..[men]..were with Him and certain women." [Three are named and are said to be ministering to Him.] In v5 He taught the parable of the sower and in v21 He declares "These [men and women] are my mother and brothers."
At the end of this gospel it records that at least three women were among those telling the apostles of the empty tomb. In 24:23 of Luke the eleven and those with them [including at least three women] had Jesus appear to them, eat with them, and command them to preach repentence and remission of sins in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem and there is no exclusion clause about women being exempt from this commision.
One final comment about Jesus and women in His life and ministry. Back in Luke 11:27 it is recorded that Jesus was teaching when a women spoke loudly and said "Blessed is the womb that bare thee and the paps at which you sucked."
She was overwhelmed by His obvious greatness and shouted out another axiom of that day. The Rabbi's taught "Whereby do women earn merit? By making their children go to the Synogogue to learn scripture and their husbands to the Rabbinical school to learn Mishnah and wait for her husband until he returns." In other words, a woman had no personal opportunity at spiritual things except through her representative husband and male children. It was being under his umbrella that was the source of her blessing. This woman sincerely believed that and, if true, Mary was blessed beyond measure because of her Son who was serving God as no other.
But Jesus amazingly cut that view to pieces with His response. He said "Blessed rather are those [men and women in context] who hear the word of God and obey it." This means a woman is blessed by personal connectedness and obedience to God just as a man is blessed by the same. There is no representative for the female other than the One who sits at the right hand of God making intercession for all believers. It is called equal footing in spiritual matters.
This leads me to a final concluding statement. Whatever the epistles record as instructions for church life, those instructions will not undo, when understood with correct interpretation, what Jesus did with women. You can take that to the bank.
One final look at this thing of women in life and ministry next time.