A Biblical perspective concerning Jesus and women, Part 2
In the last article, Part 1, we examined the record where the Lord Jesus was confronted with the case of the adulterous woman who was brought before Him, and was being accused by the Pharisees and Sadducees, that she had been caught in the very “act” of adultery. Of course the ultimate goal of the Pharisees was not the actual accusation that they were making against the woman (she was but an excuse). They wanted to see if the Lord Jesus would uphold the Mosaic law by ordering that this woman should be taken outside the city gate and stoned to death. However, instead of reproving or condemning her, we noted He stooped down and began writing on the ground. It has long been speculated as to what He wrote. Although the text does not specify the words that He wrote in the sand, it is not an improbable view that He wrote the names of those present and their sins next to their name. If any of those present had held stones in their hands, they were soon quietly dropped as they left one by one from before the Lord.
The other biblical woman that was examined was the sister of Lazarus, Mary of Bethany. She was boldly sitting in the posture of a disciple at the feet of the Lord Jesus. It was noted that this most likely was not the first time that she enjoyed the privilege of sitting with the men in full equality. This was ascertained through the absence of censorship by the men, and the lack of expressed shock due to the departure by Mary from their societal expectations. The censorship did not come from the men, rather it came from her own sister, Martha, who was laboring in the kitchen when she came out to ask the Lord Jesus to send her into the kitchen to help her. As we saw in the biblical text, the Lord did not upbraid her, but rather he affirmed her place as His disciple.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
After the Lord speaks to Martha, telling her that there was only one thing that was needful and that Mary had chosen the good part, which of course, was ingesting the spiritual food that He was offering to those present. One can quickly imagine the Lord Jesus even offering to Martha a place next to him on the same bench. Whether or not Martha remained with the guests to also sup on the spiritual food that the Lord Jesus was serving is unknown.
Another textual clue that this was probably not the first time for Mary to sit as the Lord Jesus’ disciple during one of His discourses, we need to look at the biblical record in John 4 regarding the Samaritan woman at the well. In John 4:8, Jesus’ disciples had gone into the Samaritan town to buy food for their noon repast. The Lord Jesus began speaking to the woman who approached near to Him to draw her daily supply of water from the town well. This conversation was amazingly different. Why? Jewish men barely spoke with Jewish women that were related to them, let alone speaking to a foreigner. Not only was this foreigner a woman, she was a Samaritan and a sinner. The Samaritans were openly hated by the Jews because they were deemed as half breeds, part Jew and part bloodline of the then conquering nation that had deported the Jews into exile during the Diaspora. So before the Lord even spoke with her, she had three strikes against her, at least according to the culture in which she lived.
In John 4: 27 we read:
And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, “What are you seeking?” Or “Why are you talking with her?”
It is this encounter between the Lord Jesus and the Samaritan woman and the subsequent shock that His male disciples expressed when they saw their Master openly speaking with a woman, that tells the bible student that this account happened before the encounter with Mary of Bethany and her sister Martha. By the time that Mary is boldly sitting with the men to hear her Lord’s discourse, His male disciples were no longer shocked by their Master’s full acceptance of female disciples.
The next biblical record that we will more fully examine in Part 3, is that of the Lord Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.
If the issues of gender equality, not just for women, but for both women and men functioning as equals in the church is a concern for my readers, then you should check out Christians for Biblical Equality. They have a local branch, the Chicago Greater Chapter and they may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to inquire about membership.
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