As a child, I had a beef with some traditional, so-called “women’s work”. There was baking, sewing, and crocheting with my grandma. But cooking, no way! And doing dishes, oh brother. I believe my disdain stemmed from family holiday gatherings. I watched with arms crossed, as the men plopped themselves on the couch, football game humming on the TV, while the women cleaned up. This, after the females had laboriously cooked our meal. My little-girl brain felt it unfair.
Yet, this mini, sorta-feminist adored all these men: my grandpas, my dad, and dear family friends. These were not a lazy lot when it came to their professions. They were simply conforming to the norms of our family and of the larger, ages-old cultural system.
Society has systems and patterns of values passed through the generations. The Bible documents an extraordinary timeline and kingdom narrative. In the Old Testament, a moral code established a culture based on law. Religious and wealthy men were held in the highest regard; women, slaves, and the poor placed at the bottom of the rung.
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.
For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28 NKJV
However, in the New Testament, we meet a subversive Savior who shakes up an age-old social structure on his three-year journey to the cross. There was upheaval when He entered the scene; He turned His culture upside-down. Jesus healed and fed. Jesus touched the rich and poor, the young and old, the marginalized.
And the women.
Jewish society viewed women as property, excluded them from worship in the Temple, and they could not speak to men in public. What radical change Jesus initiated by wrapping His love around the women of His day. His words fell with tenderness and respect. His eyes shone with compassion towards the fairer sex. He invited them in.
Recently, I began a scripture study for Lent in this area of Jesus and women. I compiled a list and am eager to share some of it with you (keep digging, there is more than this list), and I encourage you to look up the corresponding scripture for each example.
~Jesus was born of a woman. (Matthew 1-2)
~He spoke with the sinful woman at the well. (John 4:27)
~Some of His best friends, financial supporters, and ministry partners were women. (Mark 15:41)
~Jesus affirmed Mary of Bethany as she sat at His feet. (Luke 10:39)
~He allowed another Mary to anoint His feet. (Luke 7:36-50)
~He set free the woman caught in adultery. (James 8:1-11)
Jesus Christ was the best thing to happen to women!
In Luke 24:1-12, we find six astonished women at the empty tomb of Jesus, the stone moved away. These women, weeping, heartbroken, and ready to anoint the dead body of their beloved leader in his grave-clothes. Instead, they found an empty tomb, and shining angels speaking.
“He is not here, but He is risen!” (Luke 24:6)
It was not the male disciples who were given the privilege of discovery, but these modest female followers. These six, rushed out of the tomb to tell his eleven disciples–and everyone else—what they had seen, and not seen.
Women were not allowed to testify in this culture, yet the first to testify to the resurrection were women. Oh, what an honor. Oh, what a radical redeemer.
How the little-girl-me would have embraced this Jesus had I been alive in His days on earth!
Here and now, as we continue in this season of Lent, and begin the Holy Week, may we draw near to this Savior who turned the world upside-down. His life-giving love-note to us declares we are all treasured persons in the Kingdom of God, invited into His purpose.
“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.”
― N. T. Wright