Jesus Never Put a Woman Down

I read a lot of blogs written by women, and I’ve been told that showing up and commenting on these blogs encourages the writers. Some of the bloggers, though, give me the impression I’m a bit more encouraging than they’re used to, particularly from a man.

Perhaps it’s true.

Why might I be so encouraging? Frankly, I think it might be because Jesus never pushed a woman down, put her in her place or shoved her to the side.

Jesus and His Women

The Gospel accounts record a number of interactions between Jesus and women, not casual encounters but meaningful moments that not only brought the Light of the world into their lives but also give us examples of the deep love of God. Despite the expectations of the society around him – expectations that Jesus would disregard women, even shun them publicly – Jesus chose to honor and cherish these women as people made in his Father’s image.

There’s the Samaritan woman at the well, an outcast among her own people and a pariah to the Jews. But Jesus engages with her in a lengthy conversation, listening to her words and her heart, showing her that what she’s longed for all her life as she lived with one man after another could be found in him, the One she eagerly awaited as Messiah.

Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, Angelika Kauffmann (1741-1807)

Another time, when snobby religious leaders rebuked Jesus for allowing a woman to caress his feet, Jesus gently honored her, comparing her acts favorably to the shortcomings of his host. The master of the house did not offer water for Jesus to wash his feet, but the woman wet them with her tears and dried them with her hair; he didn’t greet Jesus with a kiss, but the woman never stopped kissing Jesus’ feet; he did not honor Jesus with oil for his hair, but the woman poured costly perfume on Jesus’ feet and massaged it in. And Jesus sends her off with gentle words of peace and forgiveness.

Feast of Simon the Pharisee, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

One woman wanted to be with Jesus so badly that she forced her way through a crowd that was hurrying him along to the home of a sick little girl they wanted him to heal. The woman just wanted to touch the hem of his robe, knowing that if she did she would be cured of the bleeding that had plagued her for twelve years. It worked immediately. Jesus stopped, the crowd surging around him. He called her to him, said she was his “Daughter” and he gently blessed her before continuing on his way.

Healing the Woman with a Flow of Blood, Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)

And then there’s the woman who literally ended up owing Jesus her life. Caught in adultery, she’s thrown at Jesus’ feet where her accusers demand the ultimate punishment – being stoned to death – as much for judgment of her sin as to test Jesus’ orthodoxy. The fact he came to her defense might not have surprised her accusers. It’s what they wanted him to do, so they could accuse him in turn. But the way he did it was unassailable:

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Christ and the Woman Caught in Adultery, Rodolpho Bernardelli (1852-1931)

Jesus didn’t tell her to clean up her act before he’d forgive her. He didn’t even mention forgiveness with this woman. He just stood up for her, told her she’s free from condemnation, and that she should go and live accordingly.

The Godliness of Encouragement

It’s the way for all of us who belong to Jesus. We are forever free from condemnation.

The world doesn’t always treat women that way. In fact, people in this world are more likely to condemn women to a life of second-class status. And heaven help the woman if she’s a woman of color. How quickly a woman can fall from second- to third-class status or lower, condemned to less than full membership in society.

It’s an ungodly way to treat them.

So why do I spend time at women’s blogs, reading women writers, supporting women’s efforts to bring their insights and wisdom to work in the kingdom of God?

I’m just following the example of Christ.

Jesus Never Put Women Down

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[This updated post first ran as a guest piece back in 2013 at Bronwyn Lea’s blog.]

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17 Responses to Jesus Never Put a Woman Down

  1. He had his work cut out for him with Mrs Zebedee, James and John’s Mum.

    • Tim says:

      Even there he took her seriously and answered her directly. He let her know that her request went well beyond anything she could imagine and she should be careful what she asked for, right?

  2. I think this is a very important point/post. Jesus broke down a lot of the society’s views as how women should be treated and interacted with as you display. There is never a time that Jesus is putting women in their place or anything like what seems to be popular around some Christian groups. Personally, at least at this point in my life, I find that a disconnect of some significance if we’re wanting to be like Jesus.

    • Tim says:

      It is a true disconnect, Jeremy. The world says men rule women, and has since Genesis 3. Jesus set things right, back to the original intent for women and men in God’s kingdom.

  3. I want every man in the world to read this.

    • Tim says:

      I’ll settle for a few who might find it opens their eyes and frees them for the chains of thinking men are somehow superior to women. 😉

  4. I appreciate this SO much. Thank you for valuing women. (I include myself.)

    • Tim says:

      I appreciate you and your ministry tremendously. You are a blessing to so many, CE.

      • Thanks, Tim! I try to minister when and where I see the need, to my congregation as well as anyone who expresses a need. For the past two months I’ve been doing a listening tour of the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago, asking groups of people “What is your personal definition of PEACE?” And then, listening to the responses!

        The next step? I held a Peace Breakfast last Friday in my suburb (Morton Grove), which was very well received. We’re using the momentum to plan a Youth Peace Vigil, hopefully in a few weeks. All this came out of a chance remark that someone made at a luncheon I attended in January. Amazing what God can do! @chaplaineliza

  5. So glad you re-posted this, Tim.

  6. We need more men within the worldwide Church to recognise the value of women. In fact we need more white, middle class (meaning fairly wealthy, educated, etc.), able-bodied males to recognise that they are even in a position of privilege and recognise what Christ expects them to do with that knowledge. Simply saying I’m not sexist or racist or whatever is *not* enough. Of course this applies to women too e.g. I know that I have privilege by virtue of my nationality, my skin colour, my family’s income, etc.

    • Tim says:

      “Simply saying I’m not sexist or racist or whatever is *not* enough.”

      So true, sfk. Action is much better than inaction.

  7. Laura Droege says:

    Obviously, I agree. But how should we respond when men insist that the world–America, at least–is harder for them now that women have greater equality? And that feminism is all about putting men down? One woman told me that she was worried that her sons wouldn’t have equal job opportunities after college because women were taking all the traditionally male jobs, when they should’ve been content with “lesser” jobs (for example, be a paralegal rather than an attorney, a nurse instead of a doctor, that sort of thing). I’m getting the sense that certain types of people are angry about greater racial and gender equality, all because there are a people on the extreme edges who promote dominance rather than equality, a kind of payback for all the centuries of white male dominance. I don’t know how to respond to the angry, resentful people without becoming angry and resentful in return. Neither is Christ-like.

    • Tim says:

      I suppose looking them in the eye and saying “Well, boo-hoo” is out of the question. The only thing that seems to be appropriate is to continue showing that Jesus loves them as much as he ever did, and the fact he loves others just as much doesn’t diminish that love one bit. As they see this, they may just see that justice for the oppressed will not result in injustice to the ones who have been living privileged lives.

      • Rock says:

        Women have been.”showing love” for a long time and it didn’t bring them equality. It takes more than that. It takes sharing truth and taking God at His Word in non-biased interpretation. It takes being active in pursuing inherent rights even if it is counter-culture. Jesus set that example with His often culturally radical treatment of women. There is the real possibility of backlash imbalance that could swing the pendulum that is gaining momentum too far in some areas. If that becomes the case and boys/men find themselves being treated unequally then they have the same rights as females to do just what the women have done to gain their equality, including using the courts. It goes both ways and always should if equality is the goal.

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