As we have been considering this theme of worship in our recent blogs, the question was raised recently about the role of women in leading worship. My view of women serving in leadership positions in the church was born out of the crucible of early pastoral experiences, so the question challenged my thinking and my position on this issue. But as I prayed and sought Jesus’ input into this matter, I sensed Jesus clarifying my position. So I share with you what Jesus shared with me as it relates to women leading worship and our current situation. I hope you will see a biblical perspective on this matter and you will be open to the possibility that the Holy Spirit might change your own views on this matter.
I begin with a review thought from last week where I demonstrated that true worship is not about what we get “out” of worship but what we give “in” worship. We said true worship is presenting the very best we have to God in worship. That leads us to 2 acts of worship that involved women leading worship and Jesus’ response to them. In 7th chapter of Luke there is the story of a sinful woman (perhaps a prostitute) who comes to Jesus in the home of a Simon the Pharisee. She brings as her gift of sacrifice to Jesus an alabaster jar of perfume, which may represent her laying aside her trade and giving it entirely to Jesus. She takes her hair, which is a women’s glory and wipes Jesus’ filthy feet which had not been washed by his host. How does Jesus react to this very public adorning act of worship? Let us read the words of Jesus in Luke 7:39-50 Jesus accepts and affirms publicly and scripturally this profound, humble act of worship led by a woman.
The second illustration of worship is the story of Mary, Lazarus’ sister, who also brought very expensive perfume to anoint Jesus for His burial. Once again I believe this is a beautiful picture of pure worship by a woman in a public setting. The story is found in 3 of the 4 gospels so please don’t miss the importance of what Jesus is teaching. When the disciples (led by Judas Iscariot) criticize Mary’s act of worship, Jesus takes offense. We read His words in Matthew 26:10-13
Now remember the cultural background and the fact that women were considered 2nd rate citizens and most Jewish men didn’t even speak to women in public. But in this biblical story Jesus commends Mary’s act of public worship and holds it up for all of the church history to contemplate and consider. Jesus accepted and affirmed these public acts of worship by women and so should we.
You may say to me that my prejudice or my church upbringing doesn’t support women leading worship. Jesus accepted their worship so you cannot say the Bible doesn’t support women leading worship. Jesus not only accepted their worship but held them up as a model for all of us. There are other examples that can be found to reinforce this truth but I hope these 2 prove my point. Even the woman who we began this series with in the 4th chapter of John is responsible though the word of her testimony with directing the men of Sychar to Jesus. Read the words in John 4:27-30 and John 4:39-42.
I thank God for the question being raised about women leading worship, but I am even more thankful to God’s Holy Spirit for clarifying the biblical teaching on this matter. I hope you too will allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart regarding the place of women in worship.
Serving the King,