Society is struggling to define what it means to be a female. Women are pushing for equal pay, degrading and belittling views are still being piled upon the female sex, people are claiming that a woman’s body is more important than life. These are huge issues that we have to understand – not just for ourselves, but for our hurting and confused society as well as for our future.
The Bible is actually rather clear on the position and role of a woman and it’s entirely relevant to our current social standards. Jesus does not belittle women, in fact He often sees women as more worthy then they see themselves. He sees women as being incredibly valuable and has given women significant roles and responsibilities. He also knows women are overlooked, put down, shut out, abused and silenced. He sees the pain women carry.
Women and Jesus in Ministry
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He interacted with women very often. His connection with them was typically the complete opposite of society’s approach. As Jesus did with many people, He was intimate, compassionate and drawn deep into the lives of the individual women around Him.
In John 8: 2-11, teachers of the law and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. At the time, the law said that this woman should be stoned to death. But Jesus protected and guarded her. His actions didn’t warrant her adulterous acts, Instead He was demonstrating that a woman is a person who should be cared about and respected. Jesus did not put her to shame but showed her His saving grace.
Nor does He put the Samaritan woman to shame. John shares the story of a Samaritan woman coming to the well at noon, a time when she wouldn’t encounter a crowd. Instead of avoiding her or shaming her lifestyle, Jesus offers her “living water.” He shares the truth about her life and tells her that He is the Messiah. As a result, this woman essentially becomes an evangelist, telling everyone she knows about Jesus. John 4: 39 says, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”
We know that Jesus traveled around with His disciples teaching and preaching across the land. Luke 8: 1-3 shares that several women traveled with Jesus too. Luke specifically mentions how these women helped support the disciples out of their own means. We don’t necessarily know the details of what that means, but these women cared for the disciples and helped provide for them so they could minister to others. Perhaps these women were also ministering to the people around them. Surely some were captivated by the story of Mary Magdalene (who was with Jesus) because Jesus had cast seven demons out of her. Jesus saw these women’s value and included them in His journey to reach the world.
Women and Jesus in Parables
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus uses women in His stories. While He’s explaining the kingdom of heaven through parables, He’s proclaiming the truth about His beautiful and beloved creation. Take a look at a few of His parable to learn about the characteristics and role of a woman:
The parable of the lost coin found in Luke 15: 8 – 10.
Jesus shares this parable to demonstrate our diligence and celebratory spirit when it comes to people coming to the Lord.
The parable of the persistent widow found in Luke 18: 1 – 8
Jesus shares this parable as an example of how we should always pray and never give up.
The parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25: 1 – 13
Jesus shares this parable encouraging believers to be wise and prepared for the returning of Christ.
Women Throughout the Bible
God honors women and gives them a significant role as wife and mother. From Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God places Eve in an incredible role as the mother of His children. He made her out of Adam’s rib because it was not good that man was alone. Men and women need each other. We both benefit from the natural characteristics that God placed within us.
As a woman in marriage, God placed her in a role where she has the privilege of honoring her husband as the church honors God (Ephesian 5: 22-27). This is an incredible responsibility. But, we can’t be blind to the comparison – a wife is to a husband as the church is to God. The church doesn’t honor an abusive, mean, self-seeking, idolizing God. Rather we honor a compassionate, loving, pure and wise God. Men will fail and so will women, but our God will never falter.
Jesus was opposed to adultery, divorce and lust over a woman, but He knows our sinful nature and cares for the person in a situation. Jesus delves into adultery and divorce in Matthew 5: 27-32. His intention is to protect and guard women.
Jesus heals the heart, soul and body of women. Mark 5: 21-41 tells the story of a woman healed and a girl raised from the dead. It was faith that healed these two individuals, not their status or what was being proclaimed about their life.
Many Old Testament verses speak highly of women as well. God cared for the lost, burdened and overlooked. He raised up the abused, hurting and sexualized. Throughout the Bible, God proclaims that all life has value, and we must pay the consequences for our sins and wrong doings. He provided and protected women so they could provide and care for their family – whether staying at home with the children or using the skills and talents that God has given them to make a living out in the workforce. He used a line of women to bring His son to this earth. These women are strong, they are mighty, they are beautiful and capable – because they are a reflection of God.
Proverbs 31: 10-31, the woman of noble character, describes a woman who is hard working, wise, beautiful, caring and kind. This is the ideal woman, what women should be striving for in today’s society. This is not old fashioned, or out of touch. This is courageous and bold.
1 Peter 3: 3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
All Children of God
Matthew 15: 21 – 28 tells a story about a Canaanite woman who comes seeking healing for her daughter who is demon possessed. Jesus exclaims that He had only come to serve the Israelites, God’s chosen people, not gentiles. The woman knows that gentiles are looked down upon by the Isreaslistes, so she humbles herself and says, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” At this word, Jesus heals her daughter immediately. Through this interaction, Jesus wasn’t pointing out that the woman was actually less than the Isrealites. No, He was doing the exact opposite. He was proclaiming that she too is a child of God.
When it comes to our place in society, it’s important to realize and see that we are all children of God. It’s important to treat other people with respect, love and healing. It’s important to care for one another and offer hope and restoration in this hurting world.
Galatians 3:26-29 says that, through faith, we are all children of God. That is the common thread throughout every Biblical story – not just those about women. We are all children of God and should be treated as such.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”Galatians 3: 26-29
Women and Jesus in Worship
God created women with a unique tenderness and nurturing spirit. The Gospels paint a picture of a sinful woman who washes the feet of Jesus with an incredibly expensive jar of perfume, her hair and tears. (Matthew 26: 6-13, Mark 14: 1-9, Luke 7: 36-50, John 12: 1-7). Many in the room believe this is a ridiculous act, but Jesus sees how beautiful and marvelous it is. He advocates for her as she offers herself to Him.
Jesus sees those that other people overlook. Mark 12: 41 – 44 describes a widow that gave only a few coins to the church, while the rich came and gave large sums of money. Jesus proclaims that she gave all that she had. Her dedication to the Lord is shown through her sacrifice and Jesus recognizes that she gives more than all the rest.
Many are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10: 38-41). One sister was busy preparing for Jesus, the other was just listening to His teaching. Again, God shows the power and intimate connection He desires from ALL His people in worship, but He uses a woman to demonstrate His expectations.
Women can be so busy proving their position, making ends meet, trying to tackle all that is around them, or they can grasp the Word of the Lord and pursue the woman that God created them to be. Jesus asks us to seek Him and make Him more important than our earthly ideals. We see this in the story of Mary and Martha as well as Jesus’ proclamation that wherever our treasure is, there will be our hearts. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“ (Matthew 6: 19-21)