I love Jesus. The more I read about Him, the more I appreciate that His love was the kind of love that defied all kinds of prejudices, including the prejudice so often held against women. Below are just a few examples of occasions where Jesus, despite other people’s perceptions of women, demonstrated His profound appreciation of them. I hope these accounts encourage your heart like they have mine, and show you more clearly how Jesus views and values all of us.
1. The Woman at the Well
Being The Well, this seems like an appropriate place to start. One of the things I love most about this encounter in John 4 is that Jesus chooses to single out an unmarried, non-Jewish woman caught in a cycle of unhealthy relationships. In doing so, He completely obliterates any assumption that God will only engage with a woman who fits the ideal Christian stereotype. And when I say engage, I don’t just mean that He’ll make polite small talk. The woman of Samaria was the woman that Jesus chose to reveal the secret of New Testament worship to:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. // John 4:23.
His choice to reveal such a paradigm-shifting reality with this woman definitely suggests that He had a high opinion of her – both intellectually and spiritually. I also love the way that the woman responds to her encounter with Jesus. We’re told that she shared her story so that many of her people came to know Jesus as the Saviour of the world (John 4:39,42).
What does this account tell us about Jesus’ opinion of women? He thinks highly enough of us to entrust us with His truth. He also sees the power behind our story, and entrusts us with pointing others back to Him.
2. The Death of Lazarus
If you’ve never before memorized a verse of scripture, today is your day. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” And what is it that brought the Son of God to tears? Let’s see:
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. // John 11:32-33
Jesus not only hears the prayers of his daughters, but he is “deeply moved” by the honest, unreserved sentiments of her heart. Oh yeah, and he raised Lazarus from the dead later that day. Wow.
What does this account tell us about Jesus’ opinion of women? He doesn’t demean our emotions. Instead, He empathizes with us and is moved to action by our prayers.
3. The Anointing of Jesus
There are very few things mentioned in all four of the Gospels, but this story is one of them:
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. // John 12:3
While other men were watching Mary and saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor” (Matthew 26:8-9), Jesus was seeing something very different: She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial… wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. // Mark 14:3-9
What does this account tell us about Jesus’ opinion of women? He recognizes the deep intuition that we have into His worth and cherishes the worship that we offer Him.
4. The Widow’s Offering
Again, a woman’s heart of worship catches Jesus’ attention. This time, it’s a woman who is poor, widowed, and probably viewed as a burden to society. But to Jesus, her service is something to be used as an example to teach anyone – man or woman, rich or poor – how we ought to give.
Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. // Mark 12:43-44
What does this account tell us about Jesus’ opinion of women? He sees every sacrifice that we make in service to Him and wants others to learn from our example.
5. The Witnesses at the Tomb
I LOVE this. Read this excerpt from Matthew 28:5-10, which takes place after the resurrection of Christ:
But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’
I once read a novel called Jesus on Trial, where I learned that the testimony of women in the time of Jesus was widely disregarded in a court of law, as in most other contexts. Despite that fact, God chose to make two women the first witnesses of the resurrection. Jesus also chose these women to be the first ones who would see Him in His resurrected body, giving them the important job of bringing others to their own encounter with the risen Christ.
I cannot overstate how big of a deal this is. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain,” and in verse 17, “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” The truth of the resurrection is what our entire faith is dependent on, and Jesus chose to first entrust this truth, not to his disciples, but to two women.
What does this account tell us about Jesus’ opinion of women? He trusts us to be faithful witnesses of His most crucial truths. He places enormous value on our testimonies.
All throughout the Gospels, there is evidence of Jesus’ willingness to use women like us in His service. He loves us, He recognizes what we have to offer, He is eager to entrust us with truth, He appreciates our prayers and worship, and He is willing to engage with us in our everyday. I hope you know how valuable you are to Him, and that He will use you today to accomplish amazing things.
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