One of the first objections to women in ministry is the fact that Jesus chose only males as his twelve apostles. If Jesus only chose men for this special “class” of people who were to be His witnesses of the resurrection, then didn’t Jesus show by this act that He does not allow women to minister in the church as men alone are to have a special position of authority?
I would like to suggest that Jesus deliberately chose men as part of the group of 12 who were to be witnesses to the resurrection since these men were to be witnesses to the world while Jesus assigned women to be the first witnesses to the church.
In the culture of that day only men were considered to be credible witnesses. So a witness to the world would be most effective with the witness of those who could legally give testimony. It was the men who would establish a legal testimony to the world and go on to establish the integrity of their own witness by laying down their lives.
But Jesus considered the brethren to be different than the world as they were to accept the word and the witness of women without the world’s prejudice.
The angels at the tomb gave the gospel first of all to the women who spread the word by promptly giving the gospel to the men:
Luke 24:6 “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
Luke 24:7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Luke 24:8 And they remembered His words,
Luke 24:9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
In the book of Matthew, the angel commands the women to give the good news of the gospel to the Lord Jesus’ disciples:
Matthew 28:5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
Matthew 28:6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.
Matthew 28:7 “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”
Matthew 28:8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
While the women were on their way to report the good news to the disciples, Jesus Himself met them and it was Jesus who commissioned them as witnesses:
Matthew 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
Matthew 28:10 Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
In the book of John, Mary was also given the privilege of seeing the resurrected Christ and she too was commissioned by Jesus to give a message of hope to the disciples:
John 20:15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
John 20:16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
John 20:17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”
In Mark’s account an angel commands the women to take word to Jesus’ disciples telling them that what happened to Jesus and the resurrection was “just as He told you”.
Mark 16:5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.
Mark 16:6 And he *said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.
Mark 16:7 “But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'”
But the men would not believe the gospel given by the testimony of the women:
Luke 24:10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.
Luke 24:11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
These disciples were acting like the world in that they would not receive the testimony of the women. Jesus Himself came to some of these male disciples on the road to Emmaus and keeping their eyes from recognizing Him, he questioned them about what had happened. The men answered:
Luke 24:18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”
Luke 24:19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people,
Luke 24:20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.
Luke 24:21 “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.
Luke 24:22 “But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning,
Luke 24:23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.
Luke 24:24 “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
Even with the testimony of all these women saying that Jesus was alive, they did not believe the women. Jesus chided them because they had not believed the testimony of the women nor had they believed the testimony of the prophets of old who had prophesied about His death and resurrection:
Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luke 24:26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
The undeniable testimony of the women and their belief in the resurrection was designed by God to be the very first witness to the early Christians. The command for women to testify was from angels and from the Lord Jesus Himself. By this act, Jesus removed the stigma of women as unreliable witnesses and He prepared the heart of his own brethren to receive women with full acceptance of their gifts through the coming in-filling and commission of the Holy Spirit which would shortly come to pass.
We should be able to see that it was the unbelieving world that needed the witness of 12 men. In contrast it was Jesus’ disciples who were given the witness of the women. God’s people were to accept the witness and gifting of godly women.
While the world is prejudiced against women, it is not to be that way among you. The world’s way is prejudice against women. That is why Jesus sent 12 male witnesses to be the commissioned witnesses of the resurrection to the world. Jesus was not prejudiced against women – the world was! But Jesus completely changed things with the church by sending women to the unbelieving brethren, because the church is to learn from Jesus a better way that is love without prejudice.
Jesus desired to teach his male disciples that they could accept the testimony of a woman sent by God. She was just as worthy a witness as they were. Today Jesus is still sending a message to the church. We are to be different from the world. We are to be salt and light showing a different way.
I believe that when we love God enough, we will accept His gifts through female vessels without prejudice. We as the church need to humble ourselves to embrace and encourage God’s commissioned witnesses and God’s commissioned gifts even from women whom God calls and gifts. When we stop acting with prejudice as the world acts, the world will take notice that we have been with Jesus and we are changed. Truly they will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another. Let no man grieve the Holy Spirit by rejecting God’s gifts that flow through his sister in Christ.