The gospel account tells us that after the woman's encounter with the Savior, "Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of [her] word" (v. 39). Why would the Messiah send this woman into her village to tell others about His power if He was opposed to the concept of women in ministry?

Interestingly, this was the first recorded instance in which Christ commissioned someone to evangelize beyond the narrow confines of the Orthodox Jewish community. To prophetically demonstrate that the gospel would ultimately spread to "Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8), He sent a woman evangelist to preach!

We must remember the cultural context of this passage. In Palestine at the time of Christ, women were not considered reliable witnesses because they were believed to be ignorant and easily deceived.

Yet, to whom did Jesus announce His resurrection on Easter morning? And whom did He commission to tell others that He had triumphed over the grave? Was it not His brave women disciples?

Because of cultural biases, Christ's male disciples did not believe the testimony of the women when they gave the astounding report about the open tomb. Yet Jesus appeared to the 12 and confirmed the witness of the women, and by doing so He intentionally refuted the idea that women could not offer faithful testimony. Indeed, He affirmed the ministry of the women and challenged His narrow-minded male followers to do the same.

When Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, "Go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God'" (John 20:17), was He not affirming her as a witness of the gospel? Was He not commissioning her both to go and to speak for Him? Why then do we deny women the opportunity to carry this message?

It is tragic that eloquent women preachers in former centuries had to defend their skills and anointing to clergy. It is even more tragic that equally anointed women preachers today must continue to defend themselves. When are we going to stop quenching the Holy Spirit by denying our sisters their right to prophesy? To keep them silent is to tune out the voice of the Spirit. To reject their leadership is to reject the Lord.

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