Aída Besançon Spencer identified four broad categories.
First, Jesus’ conversations with women indicate his esteem for them. Jesus openly conversed with women despite the ancient practice of discouraging men from speaking with women in public. For example, in John’s Gospel Jesus has a deep theological discussion with a man, Nicodemus (Jn 3:1–21), followed by a deep theological discussion with a woman, a Samaritan, at Jacob’s well (Jn 4:4–42). She is the first person to whom Jesus discloses that he is the Messiah (Jn 4:25–26), and she becomes an evangelist to her people (Jn 4:28–29, 39–42). Later in the same Gospel, Martha affirms the key doctrines about Jesus: Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (Jn 11:27).
Second, Jesus’ teachings are favorable to women. Jesus is firm that marriage entails commitment between one man and one woman for life, whereas rabbinic teaching allowed polygamy and divorce for many reasons other than adultery. As well, women, like men, were to place obedience to God as most important (Mt 12:46–50; Mk 3:31–35; Lk 8:19–21; 11:27–28).
Third, women form an important part of Jesus’ ministry, helping usher in the time of God’s rule.
Five women are included in his messianic pedigree: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and of course Mary (Mt 1:3–16).
Many women serve as positive models of faith:
- Mary’s role, as a virgin who conceived by the Holy Spirit, is highlighted. She is presented as a thinker of great faith (Mt 1:18; Lk 1:26–56; 2:19, 34–35, 51).
- A Canaanite woman is also extolled for her great faith (Mt 15:28; cf. Lk 4:25–26), similar to the way a Roman soldier is praised (Mt 8:10).
- Likewise a restored prostitute who is allowed to touch Jesus is commended for her faith, greater than that of the rude Simon and his Pharisee friends (Lk 7:36–50).
- A healed woman is called “a daughter of Abraham” (Lk 13:16) in the same way as a male tax collector is called a restored “son of Abraham” (Lk 19:9–10); thus both women and men are included in the newly formed people of God that Christ himself both represents and gathers.
- And Mary of Bethany is commended for her insight into Jesus’ coming crucifixion—insight that went far beyond that of the Twelve (Jn 12:1–8).
Besides these, Luke singles out
- Elizabeth who names John (Lk 1:60),
- the prophet Anna (Lk 2:36–38),
- the named women who are among his disciples (8:1–3),
- an only daughter whom Jesus heals (Lk 8:40–42, 49–56),
- a woman with constant bleeding who by touching Jesus’ cloak makes him “unclean” (Lk 8:43–48),
- Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38–42),
- the women who mourn his impending death (Lk 23:27–28), and
- the women who come to anoint the buried Jesus but instead are the first to hear and tell of the resurrection (Lk 23:55–24:12).
Fourth, Jesus’ teachings and comments often take into consideration a woman’s perspective. He uses female images for himself—a hen desiring to gather her chicks under her wings (Mt 23:37; Lk 13:34). Similarly God’s care for the lost exemplified in Jesus’ eating with sinners is pictured not only as a father with lost sons (Lk 15:11–32) but also as a woman with a lost coin (Lk 15:8–9). Humanity is described as those “born of women” (Mt 11:11). Both father and mother are to be honored (Mk 7:10–11).
In his analogies Jesus uses household activities common to women, such as sewing (Lk 5:36) and cooking (Lk 6:38; 13:21). Household service is a key to understanding genuine obedience to God: feeding and clothing the hungry, the stranger, the ill, the inmate, the wounded (Mt 25:37–39, 42–43; Lk 10:34). The church becomes a loving family (Mt 23:8; Jn 19:25–27). Jesus shows special concern for pregnant and nursing women and widows (Mt 24:19; Mk 12:40; 13:17; Lk 7:12–17; 18:3; 20:47; 21:2–4, 23; 23:29; Jn 16:21). Pressure against Christ’s followers will come from both male and female relatives (Mt 10:35–37; 19:29; Mk 10:29–30; Lk 12:53; 14:26; 18:29; 21:16). And of course marriage has a significant place in representing God’s reign (Mt 25:1; Mk 2:19; Lk 5:34–35; Jn 2:1).
Discovering Biblical Equality, ch. 7 (formatting added)