A Biblical perspective concerning Jesus and women, Part 4
Well, this is now Part 4 of the series ‘A Biblical perspective concerning Jesus and women,’ and in Part 3 we had just begun to examine the passage concerning the Samaritan woman at the well who had just encountered the Lord Jesus one hot day at noon. She experienced her encounter with the Lord Jesus and it had just surely changed her life forever. We left off from the last article, at the place where the Lord Jesus tells the woman to go and get her husband and to come back to the well.
The Samaritan woman responded to the Lord Jesus’ command and answered Him, “I have no husband!” One can surmise that this was surely and odd request, at least by our modern standards, but not so in that day. This was also a more obvious way for the Lord Jesus to involve the town’s residents by having them come out to the city well and resort there and listen to the teaching that the Lord was about to give. What better place to teach about the concept of living water? By positioning Himself next to a physical well of water, He had a built-in aid to help them learn His instructions about the new life that He was about to inaugurate. Besides which, by asking the woman to go and bring her husband back, this also demonstrated to the woman that He was just not the everyday Jewish man walking through Samaria, but that He was a prophet indeed. Jesus’ next words told the woman this when He stated in:
You have well said that you do not have a husband. For you have had five husbands and the one you are currently living with is not your husband.” The woman responded, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
The woman now receiving this information, she turns the conversation immediately to religion and she launches into the topic concerning the Jewish vs. Samarian worship places, and which one is the correct place to worship the True God. But here we have an unusual situation to be sure. We have a woman who steps out of her cultural norms to address a Jewish Rabbi by asking Him which place of worship is the correct one. Not only did Jewish men not converse with women, they most certainly did not with Samaritan women. Women of any culture did not speak with men other than the men in their family, except of course when they went to the market and of a necessity had to negotiate prices.
Once again, the Lord Jesus adroitly ignores her polemical jab and states unequivocally:
Woman, believe me, the hour comes when you shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour comes when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.
The Lord Jesus didn’t perceive any difficulty at all with Him teaching this woman privately, despite the fact that she was a Samaritan, a woman, and she was viewed as a base sinner. With this in mind, it still is difficult for this author to comprehend why some theologians refuse to see that the Lord did not discriminate in His dealings with people. He did not choose only men to have as His disciples, but clearly made an open call to both women and men to follow Him and to become His disciples. Clearly, the Lord Jesus opened the salvific pathway to both genders, and the pathway to discipleship and service was now being offered to both. By the standards of His day, the Lord Jesus would have been considered a radical feminist. Although this term should not be viewed by 21st century ideaologies of feminism, but rather by the standards by which His Father, the Creator had originally created both male and female. The Creator had originally given to both the male and the female full authority over all of His creation and they were both on a plane of equality with each other. It was sin that disrupted this perfect relationship that Adam and Eve shared together. It was also this same knowledge of the Scriptures regarding Creation that the Lord Jesus continually operated from in his dealings with both men and women.
As with the next two verses, the Lord Jesus often revealed to women what He did not with the men. Here, the Samaritan woman is the first one that the Lord Jesus revealed without question that He was the Messiah, the one that the Jewish nation had waited for thousands of years. It should also be noted that she belonged to the despised race of the Samaritans, the ones whom the Jews would have no dealings with at all. Yet here He honors this despised woman with such an astounding truth.
The woman said unto Him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when He is come He will tell us all things. Jesus said unto her,
I that speak to thee am He.
It might be difficult for the modern reader to comprehend the full force of the honor accorded to this woman. Simply said, Jewish women were not directly taught the Scriptures, if they were to learn anything about the Word of God they learned it only by listening to the men discussing the Scriptures. Then also she was a Samaritan and she was a sinner, even rejected by her own people. Yet here was the Messiah Himself openly accepting her and treating her as His equal and being a woman of worth in His eyes.
Teachings in this series have been adapted from this writer’s book as listed below:
(Robinson, J. The Holy, the Common and The Despised, © 2009). You can follow this link and purchase the full copy of the book, but there are only a limited number of copies left.
So, 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 any of 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.