Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20; Luke 7:36-8:3; Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 12:1
In the ten years surrounding my birth, Title IX was passed, offering previously unknown opportunities for females to engage in athletics; Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed the first woman Supreme Court Justice; and Sally Ride went into space. I grew up thinking that to be female was no different than to be male; anything my brothers could do or wanted to do, I felt that I could do as well - "as well" meaning both "also" and "as good as."
It's strange for me to realize how recent and Western a phenomenon this is. A literal hundred years ago, I could not have voted. In another country, I might not be educated enough to read my One Year Bible today or to write this post. And certainly, in ancient times, my value would be largely determined by the three sons I have birthed and not the two daughters.
And yet, here is Jesus, engaging so tenderly with a woman! My contemporary American self says, "Well, of course." But that is no foregone conclusion. Jesus lives in a patriarchal society, and he is a man of some status and influence. He doesn't need to spend time on or with women, and yet he does. As my mom wrote yesterday, Jesus' "heart went out" to a grieving widow (Lk. 7:13); today he figuratively embraces the sinful woman, giving her forgiveness (vs. 47) and sending her in peace (vs. 50). "Peace" was the Hebrew idea of shalom, which meant more than quiet or lack of strife. This shalom included the idea of wholeness and health and life. With such did Jesus bless this woman; so deep is his care for her.
And, just a few verses later, we see the deeply personal and specific account of the women who follow and serve Jesus. Mary, Joanna, and Susanna among others (Lk. 8:1-3). These women matter!
In our future readings of Luke, we'll see another version of Jesus' healing of the bleeding woman and his raising to life of a dead girl (8:40-56). We'll watch Jesus in the home of Martha, teaching her sister Mary (10:38-42). We'll marvel, along with the people, as Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath (13:10-17). We'll hear parables where a female is the protagonist, we'll meet the widow with her tithe again, and we'll encounter Jesus' death, burial and resurrection with women.
Amazing. Jesus gives dignity and value - through the coin of time and attention - to a swath of people under-regarded by the culture of the time. Over and over again, Jesus raises up women, seeing their utter and complete worth in God's eyes. No wonder these women followed him! What an unusual God they, and we, serve!
Thank you, Jesus.
- Sarah Marsh
How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.