Looking at the Bible in the New Testament, what evidence suggest that women played an important role in the ministry of Jesus?
What is evident after serious study of the Gospels is that Jesus had a radically different approach to women and was incredibly counter cultural in his attitude towards them. First and foremost, the Gospels make it clear that Jesus not only travelled with women, but was supported by them financially, as Luke 8:1-3 makes clear:
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
That a Jewish male at this time would allow himself to be supported financially by a group of women suggests just how counter cultural Jesus' approach and attitude was to women. But note too the reference ot Mary Magdalene. This signals another element of Jesus' ministry with women. He did not just associated with women such as Joanna who were clearly well off and with high status. He also associated and welcomed women who were lower in the society at the time and worked to include them. This is shown in the incident when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 and also when he stops the men stoning the woman for adultery in John 8. Jesus was a man who had compassion and who loved women deeply, and saw working with them as well as trying to help them as a crucial core element in his ministry. This is interesting when compared to the somewhat negative approach that Paul took in his Epistles.