The role of women who followed Jesus during His ministry is significant in the context of early Christianity and holds a special place in Christian tradition, especially as we approach Women’s Day and observe the Lenten season. These women were not only pivotal in supporting Jesus’s ministry but also played crucial roles in the early spread of Christianity. Their stories and actions provide insights into the inclusivity and revolutionary aspects of Jesus’s teachings, particularly in a historical context where women’s roles were often marginalized.

Mary Magdalene

Perhaps the most famous of the women followers, Mary Magdalene’s significance lies not only in her close association with Jesus but also in her role as the first witness to the Resurrection. This is profoundly meaningful within Christianity, as her witnessing and reporting of the Resurrected Christ highlight the important role women played in the faith’s early development. She is often celebrated for her unwavering faith and is considered a symbol of redemption.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42) is another testament to the radical inclusivity of Jesus’s ministry. By engaging with a Samaritan woman, Jesus broke social taboos and highlighted the universality of His message. This story is significant for showing Jesus’s willingness to cross cultural and gender boundaries, emphasizing that His teachings were for all humanity.

Mary and Martha of Bethany

Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, are often cited for their contrasting approaches to Jesus’s visit to their home (Luke 10:38-42). While Martha focused on serving, Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus’s teachings. This story underscores the importance of being receptive to Jesus’s words, suggesting that devotion and listening to Christ are as crucial as service. Their home in Bethany also served as a place of rest and retreat for Jesus and His disciples, indicating the supportive role of women in His ministry.

The Women at the Cross and the Tomb

The presence of women at the Crucifixion and their visit to the tomb on Easter morning are pivotal moments in the Gospels. These women, including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, showed remarkable courage and faithfulness at a time when most of the male disciples had fled. Their presence at these critical moments of Christian history emphasizes the depth of their commitment to Jesus.

Phoebe, Priscilla, and Other Early Christian Women

In the early Christian communities, women like Phoebe, a deaconess mentioned in Romans 16:1-2, and Priscilla, who, along with her husband Aquila, was instrumental in teaching and spreading the Christian faith, played significant roles. Their leadership and contributions to the early church underscore the active participation and importance of women in the growth and establishment of Christianity.


The inclusion and significant roles of women in Jesus’s ministry and the early Christian church were revolutionary for their time and continue to be a source of inspiration and reflection. These narratives challenge contemporary Christians to consider issues of inclusivity, equality, and the role of women in the church and society. As we observe Lent and approach Women’s Day, reflecting on these women’s stories encourages a deeper appreciation for their contributions and the transformative power of Jesus’s teachings.

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