Jesus and the Women

By: Jenny Stricklin
There’s a lot of talk these days about gender equality.

But that was not the case in the first-century world that Jesus was born into. Women were routinely treated as second-class citizens with diminished rights and respect.

But Jesus was a revolutionary. He was ushering in an upside-down kingdom that breathed dignity and worth into every individual he encountered—even the women.

All throughout the Gospels, we see how Jesus valued women’s fellowship, their prayers, their service, their financial support, their testimony, and their contribution to ministry. He honored them and never hesitated to minister to them.

In Luke 7-8, we meet two of these women whose stories give us insight into the character and nature of Jesus. One, a well-known sinner. The other, an unknown sufferer.

The first woman, known for all the wrong things, hears that Jesus is eating with some of the Pharisees. She makes her way right up to the table where they were eating and falls at Jesus’ feet weeping. Letting down her hair to wipe the tears from His feet, she kisses them and anoints them with her expensive perfume—an extravagant act of worship.

But in those days, every bit of this woman’s actions would have been offensive. Can’t you just imagine the tension of that moment? These high religious leaders, with no tolerance for her behavior, probably exchanging side-eye glances, appalled that Jesus would allow such indecency?

But Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking, and he wasn’t deterred. Instead, He defended this woman’s honor and affirmed her act and attitude of love, pardoning her sin and commending her faith.

Just a few verses later in Luke’s account, we’re introduced to a second woman. She had struggled secretly for twelve years with a bleeding issue, which in those days made her ceremonially unclean. So, on top of experiencing diminished rights and opportunities as a woman in that culture, now she couldn’t even be hugged by her family. And going out in public was out of the question. Twelve years is a long time to be quarantined!

She was desperate, as you can imagine. So, she dares to make her way to Jesus through the large crowd. Trying to be discreet, she touches the hem of His robe as He passes by, hoping that would be enough. Instantly and miraculously, the bleeding stops. And Jesus takes notice.

“Who touched me?” He asks as the crowd stops and waits.

Trembling in fear and expecting to be shamed or shunned, she tells her story. While she braces for backlash, Jesus speaks words she’s only dreamed of hearing: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

This Jesus. The One who created both male and female in His image way back in the beginning, was here in the flesh affirming her intrinsic value. The One who grieved over the brokenness of the world He’d created, was here inaugurating the restoration of all things.

Again and again, He demonstrated that all people—regardless of their past sin, their struggles, their skills, their socioeconomic backgrounds, their skin color, or their sex—all people have equal access to the blessings of grace and salvation in Him.

Oh, what a Savior.
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