as well as some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Luke 2:36-38) that woman, in the person of Anna, welcomed the infant Saviour to the world; it was most fitting that she should do so, for Christianity and womanhood have had a very 'close relationship, and undoubtedly will have even to the end.
I. WHAT CHRISTIANITY OWES TO WOMAN.
1. Its Divine Author and the Object of its worship was, "as concerning the flesh," born of a woman (Galatians 4:4). The Son of God was, in a true and important sense, the "Son of Mary."
2. He owed the care and the training of his childhood to a human mother.
3. He received, during his active life, the generous provision of ministering women (see text); these, out of" their substance," supplied his necessities.
4. He found some of his best disciples and of his most faithful attendants in women (Matthew 27:65).
5. He had the comfort of the near presence of three devoted women in his last agonies (John 19:25). Closer to him in that awful hour than the ruthless soldier and the taunting enemy, rendering him a silent and sorrowful but not unvalued sympathy, stood three women who loved him for all that he was in himself and for all he had been to them.
7. Women were united with the apostles in the upper room, waiting and praying for the further manifestation of the Lord after his ascension (Acts 1:14).
8. The apostle of the Gentiles owed much to women in his abundant and fruitful labours (Philippians 4:3).
9. From that time to this, women have been rendering valuable service to the cause of Jesus Christ: the mother of Augustine, the mother of the Wesleys, and many hundreds more have, by their holy and faithful motherhood, done signal service to the gospel. In these later days, moved by the Spirit of God, women have, by their writings and by their "prophesyings," effected great things for the furtherance of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. And it is right that it should be so; for we have to consider -
II. WHAT WOMAN OWES TO CHRISTIANITY.
1. We know what barbarism does, and fails to do, for woman.
2. We know also what Greek and Roman civilization did, and failed to do, for her; in how unsatisfactory a condition it left her; how completely it failed to raise her. to her true spiritual dignity. We know what Christianity has done and is doing for her.
(1) Jesus Christ taught and enforced the transcendent value of every human soul.
(2) He admitted women into his kingdom on the same terms on which he received men: "In him is neither male nor female."
(3) He gave to women a sphere of honorable service in his kingdom; not only (as above) accepting their loving ministry for himself, but for his disciples also.
(4) Influenced increasingly by these ideas, the Church of Christ has been giving to woman a place of growing honour and usefulness; it has made her the full helpmeet and equal companion of man; it has opened for her the gateway of knowledge and influence; it has placed her on the highest seat to receive its respect, its affection, its service. We may look at -
III. THE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTIONS WHICH WOMAN MAY RENDER.
1. When not bound by domestic ties, she can offer, as these women did, of her worldly substance.
2. She can minister, as man cannot, to the sick and suffering; she has a gentle touch of hand and a tenderness and patience of spirit for which we look to man in vain.
3. She can train the child in the home, and, by giving to him or her the earliest and deepest impressions concerning Divine love, prepare for noblest work in after-years in various fields of holy service. - C.
And certain women.
I. A GREAT SUFFERER HEALED BY CHRIST (Luke 8:2).
III. A FAITHFUL ADHERENT TO CHRIST. She follows Him to the last, and is one of the women who played such a prominent part in connection with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Saviour (Mark 15:40; John 19:25).
(T. S. Dickson, M. A.)
I. LOOK AT THE CENTRE FIGURE — THE PAUPER CHRIST — AS THE GREAT PATTERN AND MOTIVE FOR US OF THE LOVE THAT BECOMES POOR.
1. The noblest life that was ever lived on earth was the life of a poor man, of one who emptied Himself for our sakes.
2. Think of the love that stoops to be served. It is much to say, "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister"; but I do not know that it is not more to say that the Son of Man let this record be written, which tells us that " certain women ministered to Him of their substance."
II. Look at the complement of this love — the love that stoops to be served, and that is THE LOVE THAT DELIGHTS TO SERVE.
1. There is the foundation. "Certain women which had been healed of their infirmities." Ah! there you come to it. The consciousness of redemption is the one master-touch that evokes the gratitude that aches to breathe itself in service.
2. Do we not minister to Him best when we do the thing that is nearest His heart, and help Him most in the purpose of His life and death?
III. THE REMEMBRANCE AND RECORD OF THIS SERVICE. Just as a beam of light enables us to see all the motes dancing up and down that lay in its path, so the beam from Christ's life shoots athwart the society of His age, and all those little insignificant people come for a moment into the full lustre of the light. The eternity of work done for Christ. How many deeds of faithful love and noble devotion are all compressed into these words: " Which ministered unto Him." It is the old story of how life shrinks, and shrinks, and shrinks in the record. How many acres of green forest ferns in the long ago time went to make up a seam of coal as thick as a sixpence? Still there is the record, compressed, indeed, but existent. And how many names may drop out? Do you not think that these anonymous "many others which ministered" were just as dear to Jesus Christ as Mary and Joanna and Susanna? How strange it must be to those women now I So it will be to you all when you get up yonder. We shall have to say, "Lord, when saw I Thee?" &c. He will put a meaning and a majesty into it that we know nothing about at present. When we in our poor love have poorly ministered unto Him, who in His great love greatly died for us, then at the last the wonderful word will be fulfilled: "Verily I say unto you, He shall gird Himself and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)Storrs.)
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