The Significance of Women in Luke: The Curing Pairs

Today, we will look at the pairs of curing that occurred in Luke 4 and 7. As mentioned in the previous posts, Luke uses the “pairing” style to contrast different responses oftentimes between men and women. This pairing style shows the reader a more faithful response. The theme of barrenness also comes back up and will show up a few more times in the rest of the book.

Pairs of Curing

As soon as Luke presents the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he introduces a pair of cures (4:33-39). First, the man was cured of the demons: Luke notes the effect that the cure had on the belief of those who witness it. Yet, when the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law follows, the effect is vastly different as she immediately rises and waits on the disciples. She evidences true discipleship. The impact of this pair is seen on the reader as Luke displays sincere gratitude gives rise to action, and that action is a way of returning the gift.[1]

Luke tells another set of stories about cures that expand compassion beyond physical curing to an extension of attitude toward those in need (7:1-17). Jesus exhibits grace and heals the centurion’s servant, who is not a member of the Jewish community. This is followed by Jesus meeting the widow of Nain, who represents a group that is among the most oppressed and neglected of society.[2] She does not speak or act, but is now “barren” with the death of her son. We see that the oppressed and needy evoke a compassionate response from Jesus as He brings her son back to life.[3]

Another pair is found in Luke 7:36-50 where Luke contrasts the attitude of the repentant woman who anointed Jesus with the attitude of the Pharisee at whose house Jesus dined. The Pharisee sees himself as righteous, and she sees herself as unworthy. The object of the contrast is not to celebrate unworthiness, but to show the relationship between forgiveness, gratitude, and love.[4] The gratitude and repentance she displays transcends the fear of appearing foolish or self-conscious. This gives her spiritual freedom that characterizes discipleship and expresses through her actions what cannot be adequately expressed through words.[5]

[1] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 195.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 196.

[5] Ibid.


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