Exodus Women is a new ministry where women will be served, and where women will be able to serve. As we begin, we have an important question to answer:
What does it mean for women to do ministry?
I think Jesus himself tells us. We see it in a story that was recorded by Matthew, Mark, and John: the evening when Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus with a jar of expensive perfume. I believe this story helps us see what it means for women to do ministry, and to imagine what Exodus Women might become.
Here’s what Matthew wrote (26:1-13)
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
This is a beautiful story, and it is a story of a woman offering her gift to Jesus.
It’s a story of a woman who has received the love of Jesus and who is responding to him in love.
It’s a story of a woman ministering to Jesus — and so, it is a story about women’s ministry.
So what does this story tell us?
It tells us, first of all, that women’s ministry is what happens when women see Jesus and come to know his love for them. If you recall, Jesus had welcomed Mary to sit at his feet as one of his disciples. Jesus wept with her. And Mary had seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead.
The story also tells us that women’s ministry is when women loved by Jesus respond to him out of that love, bringing him gifts that demonstrate how valuable, how beautiful he is.
Last of all, the story tells us that when women do this work of ministry — when they respond to Jesus by bringing their gifts — Jesus is honored and the entire church benefits. When Mary broke open the jar of perfume, the house was filled with its fragrance. Her gift testified to Jesus’ great worth. In that moment, everyone at the table participated in the beauty of what she had given.
This story helps give us a vision for what Exodus Women can become. It shows us that women’s ministry is not just to women in the church, but it is ministry by women for the church.
Mary shows us that women’s ministry is when women respond to the love of Jesus with gifts that benefit the entire church. I can’t wait to see what God might do in, among, and through our Exodus Women.