Introduction: Relax. We are not going to be plowing any new ground
with this lesson. Instead, we are going to study how women responded
to the call of discipleship to see what we (of both sexes) can learn
about being disciples today. The good news, ladies, is that the women
look pretty good in comparison to the men we are studying this week.
Let’s dive right into our study!

  1. Mary

    1. Read Luke 1:8-9,11-13. Did the angel give Zechariah good
      news or bad news? Did he want a son or not? (Verse 13
      says, “your prayer has been heard.” He had been praying
      for a son!)

    2. Read Luke 1:14, 17-18. Put Zechariah’s words into today’s
      language. (“How do I know you are not lying to me?”)

    3. Read Luke 1:19. Was Gabriel insulted? (It sure sounds like
      it. Gabriel seems to say, “Do you know who you are talking
      to? Do you understand where I got this message?”)

    4. Is Zechariah already a disciple? (Yes. He was not only a
      follower of God, but he held a special role as a priest.)

      1. Is God calling Zechariah to a larger role as a
        disciple? (Yes! He is called to father (thus
        disciple) a son who is part of a special plan to
        prepare the way for the Messiah!)

        1. Will this call take Zechariah out of his comfort
          zone? Will it embarrass him? (No. Having a son
          will bring honor to him. There is simply no
          downside to this promise – other than the need
          to follow God’s directions. (Which is not
          supposed to be a “downside.”))

      2. Does Zechariah doubt the answer to his prayers?

        1. Do we sometimes doubt that our prayers have been

      3. Was this an understandable reaction for a priest?
        (No. He had been praying for this. This is something
        he wants! He is a priest, someone who is supposed to
        have a closer relationship with God. And, he had the
        example of Abraham and Sarah who had a son late in
        life. Yet, Zechariah doubted.)

    5. Just a few months later Gabriel has a similar mission.
      Read Luke 1:26-29. When verse 26 says “the sixth month,”
      what is it talking about? (The sixth month of the
      pregnancy of Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth.)

      1. Mary was troubled by Gabriel’s words. Why? (It would
        be unusual for an ordinary person, especially a woman
        in those days, to expect to be called “highly
        favored” by God.)

        1. Would this greeting make Mary more or less
          likely to believe the rest of Gabriel’s message?

    6. Read Luke 1:30-33. Is this a credible message? How did it
      compare in credibility with the message Gabriel gave to
      Zechariah a few months before? (It had never happened in
      the history of the world!)

    7. Read Luke 1:34. Did Mary doubt the words of Gabriel? (No.
      She simply asked “how will this work?” That seems like a
      reasonable question given the nature of the message.)

    8. Read Luke 1:35-38. What is Mary’s response to this
      incredible message? (Go ahead, God.)

      1. What was the downside to having God do as Gabriel
        said He would? (Joseph might refuse to marry her. Her
        reputation would be ruined. There was even the danger
        of stoning (see John 8:3-5).)

      2. How would you compare Mary’s response to this call to
        special discipleship with the response of the priest

        1. Who is the one who reasonably could have said to
          Gabriel, “How do I know you aren’t lying to me?”
          (Zachariah was given a completely plausible
          message that fit into his life (he was married)
          and was in answer to his prayer. Mary was given
          a completely implausible (up to then) story,
          that could have serious negative consequences
          for her life, and she said, “Okay, Lord. Use me
          just as you said.”)

        2. Does this give us an insight into why God chose
          Mary to be the mother of Jesus?

    9. Obviously, God was not going to call Zachariah to be the
      mother of Jesus. That would take an even more outrageous,
      implausible miracle. But we get as close to a male vs.
      female comparison as we can. Why does Mary react so much
      more favorably to the call? Do women make better

      1. Has this anything to do with gender? (It might –
        especially in that culture. Last week we discussed
        Nicodemus, a guy who had all sorts of power and
        authority. When you have a power base, when you have
        a set of “tools” that you have used to get things
        done in the past, it is more difficult to accept the
        idea of giving everything up and following Jesus.
        Mary said, “Help me understand.” When she understood,
        she said, “Alright.” Zechariah said, “I understand,
        but how can I be sure you are not lying about this?”)

  2. Mary Magdalene

    1. Read Luke 8:1-3. We see in these verses that Jesus had
      women who followed Him in His ministry. How does this
      suggest they were helping? (They were supporting His
      efforts. “By their own means” refers to “possessions.”
      They were probably using their money and food to keep the
      evangelistic effort going along.)

    2. Read John 19:25, Mark 15:46-47, Mark 16:1. What do these
      texts teach us about the discipleship of Mary Magdalene?
      (That she stayed with Jesus throughout the worst times.)

    3. Read John 20:11-16. What is Mary’s reward for sticking
      with Jesus through the bitter end? (She was the first to
      see Him as the risen Lord!)

    4. What lesson does this teach us about being disciples
      today? (You do not have to be leading the band. God loves
      (and rewards) those who faithfully toil in the background
      – even when no one but God sees what they are doing.)

  3. Mary and Martha

    1. So far, we have seen women disciples in a “supporting”
      role. Let’s look more closely at that issue by reading
      Luke 10:38-40. Is this a problem in the church? Some
      people are pitching in and helping out, and others are
      just talking (or listening)?

      1. Is Martha’s complaint a fair one? (Why should one
        person do all the work?)

    2. Read Luke 10:41-42. Jesus says that “only one thing is
      needed?” What is that one thing? (Listening to Him!)

      1. How would they eat if Martha did not do the other

      2. How would they have a place to sit (or recline),
        something to drink and eating utensils without
        someone worrying about those details? (If someone did
        not sweat those details, they would not have
        something to eat – short of a miracle from Jesus. I
        don’t think Jesus says “don’t do these essential
        things.” Instead, He says, “don’t get lost in the
        details. Remember the main goal is to share the
        gospel. Learning the gospel is more important than
        cooking and cleaning.)

      3. What does this teach disciples (of either gender)

      4. My home church has a troubling situation. On those
        days in which we have “fellowship dinner” members are
        working away in the church kitchen while the sermon
        is being preached. They don’t hear the sermon. How
        would you apply the story of Martha and Mary to this

        1. Remember that Jesus did not condemn Martha. He
          just said Mary had chosen “what was better.” (I
          think the “better” thing is not preparing lunch
          during the sermon.)

  4. Samaritan Woman

    1. If you are not familiar with this story, read John 4:3-42.
      If you are familiar, let’s focus on a few verses. Read
      John 4:6-9. What was wrong with Jesus asking this woman
      for a drink?

      1. If Jews looked down on Samaritans (and women), then
        why should she be complaining? (Jesus was crossing
        several cultural taboos. Jewish males had nothing to
        do with Samaritans, much less Samaritan women.
        Worse, Jesus was asking to drink out of her
        container. Worse, Jesus would be indebted to this
        woman. The violation of cultural norms was so extreme
        that she was making a point of it.)

    2. Read John 4:10, 25-26. Why does Jesus say these things to
      this woman? (He is seeking to make her His disciple.)

    3. Read John 4:39-42. Why did Jesus pick a woman to promote
      the gospel in Samaria?

      1. Read Matthew 10:5-7. How can you reconcile this with
        Jesus’ work with the Samaritan woman? (At some point
        Jesus seems to observe cultural norms. At other
        points He does not. We need to seek the guidance of
        the Holy Spirit in these things.)

      2. Is there an underlying moral issue with cultural
        issues? (Read Galatians 3:26-29.)

    4. Friend, God calls you to follow Him regardless of your
      gender. Even though the culture might make things more
      difficult, God has given the most important tasks to
      disciples who are women!

  5. Next week: Ethnicity and Discipleship.