Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man--there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as "The women, God help us!" or "The ladies, God bless them!"; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deed of Jesus that there was anything "funny" about woman's nature.
Dorothy Sayers

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jesus vs. Culture

Jesus came into a world in which Greek, Roman, even Jewish men taught that women were inferior, on a level somewhere between men and animals, evil, the cause of all trouble and something of a curse that they even existed. Plato taught, “The price for our sinning was exacted at the beginning of time by Zeus himself when he afflicted us with these creatures (women)” and “if we spend our lives in wrongdoing and in cowardice, afterward Zeus will send us back into this life as women.”* Plato taught Aristotle, then many of the early church fathers openly mixed the teachings of Aristotle with Christianity—rearranging some of the words but not deleting the ideas.

No one could have gotten such ideas from Jesus! He never put women down, never used them as bad examples in his parables. Instead he often referred to them as astoundingly good examples of great faith and giving, as with the widow who gave all she had to live on. (Mark 12:42-44) He never rebuked them harshly. The closest he came to that was gently saying, Martha, Martha you worry about too many things.” (Luke 10:39-41) Jesus never talked down to women but spoke directly to them some great theological truths—to the Samaritan woman (who he wasn’t supposed to speak to at all because she was a woman—people might get the wrong idea, and a hated Samaritan one at that) He said to her, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth,” and identified himself to her as the Messiah. (John 4:22-24) When Lazarus died, Jesus said to his sister Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life.” And she confessed, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." (John 11:27)

Jesus had Mary, Martha’s sister sitting at his feet to learn from him—the position of a rabbinical student, unheard of for a woman in their culture! And he said that learning from him was the best thing to choose and that it would not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

Jesus entrusted these women with deep truths. Were these truths only for women? The men had better hope not! No. Jesus expects all his disciples to teach others to obey the things he commanded. We are to put our light on a stand and let it give light to everyone.

*Why Not Women? Loren Cunningham, David Hamilton p.72 from “Plato”, Microsoft© Encyclopedia Encarta, 1993

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