Summary: Jesus placed high value on women during His earthly ministry. We should do the same.
Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus
Woodlawn Baptist Church
May 8, 2005
(see footnote for credit)
“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
I find it interesting and very revealing that of all the people to whom Jesus could have appeared first, He chose to reveal Himself to the women in His following. I am going to begin today a short series that will deal with women and what the Bible teaches about them in the church. It is my intent to demonstrate that Jesus placed a very high value on women through His life and teachings.
The place of women in the first-century Roman world and in the Jewish culture is well known. Most frequently, women were regarded as second class citizens: property even. Both Old and New Testaments present situations where women were demoralized and depersonalized, but I want you to know that these presentations of women in the Scripture don’t mean that God endorsed that treatment. Just because you find something in the Bible doesn’t mean God endorses it. He never authorized or approved of behavior that put a woman down, just as He doesn’t condone other practices in the Scriptures like child sacrifice, polygamy, the sex cults and other such things.
Jesus’ regard for women was much different from that of His contemporaries. He treated them with high regard, and there are at least three ways He did it.
Jesus Demonstrated the High Value He Placed on Women by Recognizing Their Value as Persons
Did you know women are people too? It took me a long time to realize that my mom wasn’t always my mother! She had a life before I came along, wanted to enjoy one while she was raising me that didn’t revolve around me, and would enjoy one after I left. When you think of the women in your life, you probably think of them in terms of the roles they play. She is your wife, your mother, your daughter, or whatever, but what we very often fail to recognize is that they are people with great value without any of those roles.
Jesus recognized the value of women first by making them equal with men before God. Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 when He said in Matthew 19:4 that God made them male and female. Women are created in the image of god just as men are. They have free will, self-awareness, conscience, personal responsibility, and all the other traits of humanity that any man has.
Think about it: Jesus didn’t come to earth primarily as a man, but as a person. He didn’t treat women as females so much as He treated them as human beings. I can assure you that when you hear the word disciple you think of a man. You may think of Peter, James or John. You may think of any one of the twelve, but listen, according to Jesus disciples come in two sexes: male and female. What is a disciple? It is someone who learns and follows the teachings of another.
Examples of the even handed treatment of Christ are found throughout the Gospels. He regularly addressed women in public. Men didn’t do this in Jesus’ day. Remember how the men were amazed at the Samaritan well? He was in public and He was speaking to a woman. He spoke freely with the woman caught in adultery, with the widow of Nain, the woman with the bleeding disorder, and many others.
Not only did Jesus speak with these women, He spoke to them in a thoughtful, caring manner. When He spoke to the woman with the bleeding disorder He called her “daughter.” He referred to another as the daughter of Abraham, again giving this woman equal spiritual status as the men who called themselves the sons of Abraham.
He showed their value as persons in the way He held them responsible for their sins. Not once did He condone the sins of any woman. He confronted them as people with personal freedom and personal responsibility. He didn’t go soft on them, nor did He treat them too harshly.
He showed a woman’s value in His treatment of divorce and lust. Remember that Jesus said a woman is not just a sex object, someone to use and discard. He said that to even think lustfully about a woman was to commit adultery. He taught that women had rights as individuals and that they were to be respected. They weren’t to be avoided, they weren’t to be shunned either. Instead of avoiding women, Jesus taught His followers to discipline their thoughts, and in doing so created an environment where men and women were allowed to work in harmony with one another in the church setting.