Bible Jesus

Jesus Valued Women (and why that matters)

Maybe it’s time to look at what Jesus did for women and follow the pattern he established.

In the past century we’ve seen a huge improvement in women’s rights in our society. I would argue we aren’t quite where we should be; however we are not where we once were.

What surprises me is some of the loudest voices against some progress is Christians. Now I’m not interested in making a political statement…well okay, I am interested in making some kind of political statement. But I’m not interested in delving into specific issues. I know there is plenty of debate over certain issues not aligning with Christianity. However at the heart of the movement I believe is God’s heart. Sure, some of the issues might be off track, but that doesn’t mean we discount the whole thing.

I’ve had a relatively large shift in my theology over the past year or so on this topic. This has largely come from being challenged by the doors that Jesus opened for women. The church subsequently shut the doors a century or so after and has been trying to keep closed ever since. But Jesus was radical in his approach to women, and as I study His approach I find myself shifting my view.

When Jesus entered in the picture in the 1st Century the Jewish culture had an extreme patriarchal society. Women were not afforded the same freedoms and rights as men.  Maybe the biggest disadvantage Jewish women had was not being allowed into the inner courts in the temple, which kept them from learning, being taught, and kept them on the edge of society at the time.

Some of teachings of the time even took this a step further. Rabbi Eli’ezer, who lived in the 1st Century, said, Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is considered as if he taught her foolishness. An other Rabbi taught Let the words of Torah rather be destroyed by fire than imparted to a woman. Of course not all thoughts in Judaism were to this extreme. In fact Judaism placed a higher value on women than many of the other ancient societies. However the average views still placed women in a different category than men where they had substantially less freedom. 

That’s the world that Jesus entered into. Throughout his life and his ministry he challenged many of the preconceived notions and opened doors for women. What he did would have shocked those in 1st Century culture, and I think it’s important that we today don’t forget the significance of his actions.

From the Beginning Jesus Brought Change

The first shock comes in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, you know the chapter you skip because it’s boring. Genealogies in the day were common and a big deal. They were seen as your resume of sorts. You used them to show people how good you were, what kind of stock you came from. A common practice was to hide the bad people and highlight the good people. But Jesus did the exact opposite.

Not only did Jesus highlight a murderer, adulterer, lier, doubters, and a guy who keeps telling people his wife is his sister, but all sorts of messed up people.  Jesus’ genealogy highlights 5 women: Tamar, Rehab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and of course Mary. It was already shocking that Jesus would have included women. But what was doubly shocking was the women he included. He had 2 non-Jews, a prostitute, and Bathsheba who was David’s mistress. These are not the people that you would include if you were trying to impress people. But that was never Jesus’ goal.

Jesus’ Firsts for Women

Throughout Jesus’ ministry he continually puts women on the same level as men. We might not see the significance today, but what he did was extremely significant.

The first miracle went to a woman. ( John 2:1-11)

First news of incarnation went to a woman. (Luke 1:35)

First Samaritan convert was a woman. (John 4:39-42)

First person clearly told by Jesus that he was the Messiah was a woman. (John 4:26)

The first news of the resurrection when to a woman. (Luke 24:1-12)

Women were commissioned to tell the news of the resurrection to the disciples. (Matthew 28:10)

In a culture that consistently cast women aside Jesus did the opposite. He place women in important roles in his ministry and showed that he equally values women.

Martha and Martha

Maybe the clearest example of Jesus opening doors for women is in Luke 10:38-42, the story of Martha and Mary. If you’ve grown up in church you’ve probably heard this story. Jesus comes over to Martha’s house. Martha slaves away preparing everything while her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens. Martha gets mad and tells Jesus to make Mary help her. Jesus famously says you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Thus the moral of the story is don’t be too busy and miss Jesus. But wait… Is that what is really happening?

The Bible is written to a different culture and a different time. Thus when we read it we miss some of the cultural undertones. One of those is the difference between a woman’s and man’s role in this culture. In 1st Century culture a man’s role was to sit at the feet of a teacher and learn while the women prepped the meal and did the house work. Thus Martha is doing her cultural duties and Mary is breaking the rule.

Jesus isn’t critiquing Martha’s business, although you probably could make a case for that. The significance of this moment is that Jesus not only allows Mary to sit at his feet and learn, but he commends her for doing so. This is a huge role reversal and points to Jesus’ intent. Men and Women have equal value in Jesus’ sight.


Jesus reversed many of the thoughts on women of the day and placed women in prominent positions in the telling of his story. Historically the church has tried to cast women aside time and time again. Maybe it’s time to look at what Jesus did for women and follow the pattern he established.

What are your thoughts?

22 comments on “Jesus Valued Women (and why that matters)

  1. Reblogged this on Preaching to Myself and commented:
    I saw this post and thought it would be worth reblogging
    Enjoy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post. I would ago a step further and say the Church has always been the vanguard of society on social justice and advancement of marginalized people. Like St. Telemachus who helps pave the way for the eradication of the brutality of the Roman Colosseum games. St. Mother Teresa and her advancement of the poor. Pope St. John Paul II and his strong denouement of communism and religious intolerance. I love how Social welfare is rooted in the Judeo-Christian paradigm. Sinful humans sometimes don’t always abide by the commandments of love, and the virtue of justice but its definitely essential to our faith.

    Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think you are onto a key trend in the church. I would add that what you listed is when the church is at it’s best. But when it’s at it’s worst it becomes sidetracked by the pursuit of power. The church has certainly made an impact in making the way for the marginalized. However it has also marginalized many people and people groups as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice touch on Mary and Martha and established roles. I had not thought of Mary as sitting down with the fellas. Wonder how they took it…
    Got anything on Jesus and how we should treat the homeless?
    Dave

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder if that was the first time she had done that… I can’t prove this, but, my guess is Peter stuck his foot in his mouth about her sitting there. That seems to be his m.o.

      I have not yet written on what Jesus would do with the homeless. In short I think he would hang out with them. But I think that would be an interesting topic. I have about 20 articles that I’ve started and another 7-8 that are close to done, so I’ll have to add that to my list so that I can start thinking and writing about that. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Liked by 1 person

    • And inclusion for those with mental illness and developmental disorders like autism. Jesus said we would always have the poor among us. We are to care for the widow and oprhan as well. It is ironic that conservative politicians who state they are Christians support unfunding programs that help these populations. Life matters at every stage. Before we were born, God knew us. He made us. He knows the beginning from the end. All Christians (not only men and abled ones) are His Children. I think that gives pause for thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well expressed Dear Jeffery. This post gives good insight on the some ways that Lord Jesus showed what the Kingdom of God was like with respect to the value placed on men and women. Lord Jesus showed that there is no favoritism with God. He showed how Dear women are in God’s sight, as against the suppression observed in the system of men.

    “Thus the moral of the story is: don’t be too busy and miss Jesus.”

    The above quote from your post sticks out to me. I read a similar quote ascribed to C.S. Lewis earlier today.

    Many a times, Christians get very busy going with the norm, not realizing that in following Christ, such things have to be submitted to the power of God so that His Will be expressed.

    More of Lord Jesus to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The role disruption is even a good deal broader throughout the New Testament.

    Although there were cases where a Roman woman might control her own affairs, for the most part they were under the legal control of their fathers and husbands. And the Greeks were step below that.

    And along comes Paul with “…neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey thanks for posting your thoughts on this, good stuff. Jesus certainly turned things upside down and gave it a good shake and continues to do so today.

    I really like the story of Martha and Mary, I blogged about it kind of recently if you haven’t seen it but —

    “Jesus isn’t critiquing Martha’s business, although you probably could make a case for that. The significance of this moment is that Jesus not only allows Mary to sit at his feet and learn, but he commends her for doing so. This is a huge role reversal and points to Jesus’ intent. Men and Women have equal value in Jesus’ sight” I never thought of it like this- wow, I think that’s awesome. Eye opener!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Amen to this post! God has opened the door for women and we should pay attention to how He is using them. It is not an anomaly and we should start treating women as spiritually gifted just as men are. flightministries.com

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the line in your opening paragraph “I would argue we aren’t quite where we should be; however we are not where we once were.” That is masterfully said. It’s incredible that God has blessed the church with some great female voices in our time (Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Shauna Neiquest, etc) and God is using females, like he always has, to further advance his kingdom. This also gives me hope that the future will be even brighter in this aspect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • God has blessed the church with many great females, you are right! Now it’s just time for the church to start using them more outside women’s ministry and kids ministry.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for writing this timely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on The Progressive Christian Blog and commented:
    Did you know that Jesus Christ was far ahead of his time in his attitudes towards women? Check it out….

    Like

  11. This is an excellent post, Jeffery. I would add to it one more point. Jesus’ compassionate and respectful treatment of women flies in the face of the secular world which accuses Christians of demeaning women. Even in the Old Testament, women are regarded highly, and more so in the New. Unbelievers who think Christianity, and especially the Bible, demeans women, should be challenged to read it on their own and see for themselves. Regarding verses about women not being able to teach a man (which I think the Bible clearly teaches and still holds), these should be used as conversation-starters and, of course, should be correctly expounded upon. Anyway, great “food for thought” post; thanks for sharing it.

    Like

  12. abigailjoy31

    Amen! Thanks for this reminder! 😀 God Bless!

    Like

  13. viewfromfivetwo

    love this!

    Like

  14. Reblogged this on The Bleeding Blogger and commented:
    Reblogging this post from rethink (rethinknow.org). Jeffery has made some intriguing observations here. Thoughts? What progress has the church made to date in its view of women and the improvement of women’s status? What progress is yet to be made?

    Like

  15. Thank you so much for this post and encouragement!

    Like

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