The Contributions Of Christian Women To The Pastoral Care And Counseling Ministry Of The Church – Part Two
Women Of the New Testament At The Time Of Jesus Christ:
Elizabeth: The Pastor’s wife
Elizabeth was the wife of Zacharias, the priest and the mother of John the Baptist. She was a descendant of the tribe of Aaron. Her name is derived from the same root word as that of Aaron’s wife, Elisheba, which means God is my oath. Even before Mary, the mother of Jesus, Elizabeth was the first woman to confess Christ in the flesh. In Luke 1: 43, she says But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Elizabeth was of noble character and was considered righteous before God. She enhanced her husband’s ministry with her godly counsel and support. Elizabeth was faithful, humble, and patient.
Zacharias, her husband, did not believe the angel Gabriel and wondered how God could bless them with a child at such an old age and was unable to speak for the duration of his wife’s pregnancy because of his unbelief. Elizabeth immediately believed that God had finally removed her reproach even though she did not see or hear the angel. Elizabeth named the child John according to God’s command against the wishes of relations in support of her husband. She also gave good counsel to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, when she visited her during her pregnancy and humbled herself by giving the younger Mary a position of honor. Throughout the trial of her husband, she patiently stood by him.
Mary: The Mother of Jesus Christ
Mary, the mother of Jesus, has a unique place in Salvation history and a vital role in the incarnation. She was often with Jesus in various cities. There are no more excellent examples of obedience than Mary. When the angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her that she would conceive a child though she was not married, Mary told the Lord that she was grateful to be His servant. Mary’s response was recorded in Luke 1: 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. A horrible stigma involved being unwed and pregnant; Mary’s life was in jeopardy. She knew she could be stoned to death for her condition, yet she obeyed God’s commands, trusting Him to provide for her and protect her.
When Jesus was twelve years old and was missing for three days in Jerusalem, she was terrified and went to look for him. Her excellent counsel to her son, Jesus Christ, made him perform the first miracle at a wedding at Cana in Galilee, John 2: 1-11. She also counseled the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. She was a great Counsellor.
Anna: The Prophetess
Anna was the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, a descendant of Judah. She was a prophetess who served in the temple with Simeon. And they were both waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah. Her husband died seven years after their marriage, and she devoted the rest of her life to God’s service in the temple. This young widow dared to be different through her total involvement in pastoral care and counseling other widows.
Anna was a prophetess, one of the few recorded in the Bible. The others are Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Naodia, and the four daughters of Phillip the Evangelist.
She used the knowledge and wisdom granted to her by God for the benefit of others. Anna was a spokeswoman of God. She was divinely called to minister to people speaking the will of God. Anna spent her entire life praying not for her own needs but for the needs and problems of others and the nation of Israel. She was an intercessor who took other people’s problems as her own and pleaded for them before God. She prayed with fasting without ceasing. Anna was a widow for over sixty years. She ministered to the needs of others without complaining. When Jesus was brought to the temple, Anna thanked God, blessed the baby Jesus, and rejoiced at the unique opportunity to witness the coming of the Messiah that had been prophesied long ago. She did not only confess but spoke of Jesus to all who looked for the redemption of Jerusalem. She was a great evangelist.
Mary Magdalene was first mentioned in Luke 8: 2 as one of the women healed of evil spirits and infirmities. She ministered unto Jesus and the Apostles of her substance. An unfortunate tradition identifies her with the unnamed sinful woman who anointed our Lord (Luke 7:37), and she has been thus regarded as the typical reformed ‘fallen woman’ . A series of spectacular 19th and 20th-century discoveries of Christian texts in Egypt dating to the second and third centuries have yielded a treasury of new information. It was already known from the New Testament gospels that Mary was a Jewish woman who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Apparently of independent means, she accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of her resources (Mark 15:40-41; Matthew 27:55-56; Luke 8:1-3; John 19:25). Although other information about her is more fantastic, She is portrayed as a prophetic visionary and as a leader among the disciples.( Mark 16:1-9; Matthew 28:1-10; Luke24:1-10; John 20:1, 11-18; Gospel of Peter ). In the Gospel of John, the risen Jesus gives her special teaching and commissions her as an apostle to the apostles to bring them the good news. She obeys and is the first to announce the resurrection and play the role of an apostle, although the term is not specifically used for her. Later tradition, however, will herald her as “the apostle to the apostles.” The strength of this literary tradition makes it possible to suggest that historically Mary was a prophetic, visionary leader within one sector of the early Christian movement after the death of Jesus. Her contributions to pastoral care and counseling were indeed celebrated and highlighted.
In the ‘Sophia of Jesus Christ, Mary plays a clear role among those whom Jesus teaches. She is one of the seven women, and twelve men gathered to hear the Savior after the resurrection but before his ascension. Of these, only five are named to have spoken, including Mary. At the end of his discourse, Jesus told them, I have given you authority over all things as children of light, and they went forth in joy to preach the gospel. Here again, Mary is included among those special disciples to whom Jesus entrusted his most formal teaching, and she takes a role in preaching the gospel. In the Gospel of Philip, Mary Magdalene is mentioned as one of three Marys who walked with the Lord as his companion (59.6-11). In the ‘Pistis Sophia,’ Mary again is preeminent among the disciples, especially in the first three of the four books. She asks more questions than all the rest of the disciples. And the Savior acknowledges that: Her heart is directed to the Kingdom of Heaven more than all her brothers (26:17-20). Indeed, Mary steps in when the other disciples are despairing to intercede for them before the Savior (218:10-219:2). Her complete spiritual comprehension is repeatedly stressed. She is, however, most prominent in the early second century ‘Gospel of Mary’, which is ascribed pseudonymously to her.
More than any other early Christian text, the ‘Gospel of Mary’ presents an unflinchingly good portrait of Mary Magdalene as a woman leader among the disciples. The Lord himself says she is blessed for not wavering when he appears to her in a vision. When all the other disciples are weeping and frightened, she alone remains steadfast in her faith because she has grasped and appropriated the salvation offered in Jesus’ teachings. Mary models the ideal disciple as she steps into the role of the Savior at his departure, comforts, and instructs the other disciples. Peter asks her to say any words of the Savior that she might know but that the other disciples have not heard. His request acknowledges that Mary was preeminent among women in Jesus’ esteem, and the question suggests that Jesus gave her private instruction. Mary agrees and gives an account of a “secret” teaching she received from the Lord in a vision. The vision is given in the form of a dialogue between the Lord and Mary; it is an extensive account that takes up seven out of the eighteen pages of the work. After the work, Levi confirms that, indeed, the Saviour loved her more than the rest of the disciples (18.14-15). The ‘Gospel of Mary affirms the truth of her teachings and her authority to teach the male disciples. Mary Magdalene’s dedication and gratitude to Christ were complete. She served Him with everything she had; her money and labor. She dared to follow Him to the end of His life despite the danger to herself for doing so. She sought to serve Him even after death, and her service to Him was rewarded.
Mary of Bethany
Pastoral care is hospitality at its best. Hospitality is an art; ensuring a guest is welcomed, warmed, and well-fed requires creativity, organization, and teamwork. Mary of Bethany teaches us about hospitality and listening. This Mary was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Jesus was a guest in their home many times, and Mary always paid great attention to Him. Martha chastised her sister for not helping to prepare the food and keep the house in order while they had guests, but Jesus said, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) Jesus was telling Martha to do as Mary, to set aside the busy work for a bit and listen. It is an important lesson. Mary of Bethany benefited from her listening. She was one of the few that understood what Jesus was facing and what it meant.
Mary’s act of devotion in anointing the head (Matthew 26: 7) and feet (John 12: 3) of our Lord, and in wiping His feet with her hair, is in perfect keeping with her character as seen in Luke 10 and John 11 as Mary sat at Jesus’s feet as a disciple. This oil was worth a fortune, so, in effect, she was pouring out all that she had at the feet of Christ. She also understood that she was anointing His body before His death. She knew He was destined to die and wanted to show her love and devotion before His death. Matthew 26:12-13 said When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her. As a reward for her devotion and attention to Jesus’ needs (hospitality), Mary was honored like few others have ever been.
Martha is the older sister of Mary and Lazarus. Martha and Mary were remembered for their hospitality.
Martha worried more about details. She believed in Jesus with growing faith, and her weakness was expecting others to agree with her priorities and being overtly concerned with details. The last picture of Martha was her serving a meal to Jesus and his disciples. The Bible records her silence, signaling that worship begins with silence and listening, having learned what her younger sister already knew.
-  Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible