How did Jesus empower women?

When Jesus walked the earth, gender inequality was so entrenched in Jewish society that an adulteress could be stoned without trial and men could divorce their wives for just about any reason at all.

In a nation of God-fearing and moral men, women were considered little more than property. They were servants whose place was in the kitchen or the field. Some of the religious leaders taught that women were ignorant, yet there was no point teaching them anything because they were also inferior. They had weak minds to go with their feeble bodies. Since they were also untrustworthy chatterboxes, their testimony had little value in a court of law.

Then along came Jesus.

Jesus encountered all sorts of women, both good and bad, yet he never criticized them or spoke down to them. He never said they were unreliable or inferior to men. In stark contrast with the religious leaders of the day, he spoke to women, he touched them, and he revealed the love of God to them. In doing this Jesus provided us with a prophetic picture of the kingdom come.

For the past few months, I have been writing a book about women in the church. It’ll come out mid-2020. In this book I tackle all sorts of questions such as, what is God’s plan for women? Should women stay silent in church? And were women created to serve?

My favorite chapter in the book is entitled, How did Jesus empower women? The full chapter is available on Patreon. Here’s a taste…

In first-century Israel, women could not enter the best parts of the temple and they had to sit apart in the synagogue, hidden behind a curtain or balcony. This religious segregation conveyed an unholy message: men have the inside track when it comes to God. If women wanted to draw near to God, they needed a male priest to show the way. If they displeased the priest on account of their sin or inferior womanliness, they would never encounter the grace of God.

Then Jesus came preaching a message of unrestricted access and inviting all to draw near to God. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The Jewish religion had strict worthiness tests regarding who could approach God, but the only qualification Jesus listed was weariness. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me” (MSG).

Again and again Jesus reminded his listeners that he was not looking to recruit a select group of high performers. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). The Law of Moses specified that only certain men from a certain tribe with certain characteristics could minister before the Lord, but Jesus offered no restrictions. He would receive anyone who came to him, whether male or female, young or old. “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).

Jesus not only preached a message of universal acceptance, he preached it in places where those who had been rejected by religion were most likely to hear it.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)

Jesus said this in the temple, but whereabouts in the temple did Jesus teach? The answer to this question is fascinating because it demonstrate the indiscriminate nature of Christ’s message.

The temple of Jerusalem was divided into courts. The inner court was called the Court of Israel, the outer court was the Court of Gentiles, and separating these two courts was the Court of the Women. As these names suggest, anyone could walk in the outer court, but only Jewish men could enter the inner court. In which courts did Jesus teach? In all of them.

When Jesus sat outside the treasury making remarks about widows and their mites (see Mark 12:41), he was sitting in the Women’s Court, because that’s where the treasury was located. When he debated with the Pharisees and religious leaders, he was in the Court of Israel, because that’s where religious men hung out. When Jesus overturned the tables, he was in the Court of the Gentiles, because that’s where the money changers and sacrificial animals were kept.

The religious leaders would never have taught in the Courts of the Gentiles and Women, but Jesus did because he wanted everyone to know how much God loves us.

It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.” (John 6:45a)

Jesus liked to quote the prophets who foresaw an end to gender discrimination. Jeremiah, for instance, foresaw an end to the old ways where men taught only their neighbors and brothers, and a new way where all would know the Lord, “from the least of them (i.e., women and children) to the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:34).

Before Jesus, the message for women was, “You are not worthy, stay back.” But Jesus proclaimed a better message: “Your heavenly Father loves you, draw near.”

It was the dawn of a new day for the downtrodden daughters of Eve.

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10 Comments on How did Jesus empower women?

  1. Thank you, Paul! I look forward to your book.

  2. An eye-opener. An awesome read. As always. Greetings from Poland!

  3. Chains are falling off.

  4. Serge Kulapa // December 13, 2019 at 4:28 am // Reply

    Nicely written, Paul, and with great indight about the temple.

  5. Jenny Beauchamp // December 13, 2019 at 6:33 am // Reply

    thanks again Paul….I too look forward to your book and will need to buy many for my “sisters”.
    Blessings from Kentucky!

  6. Thank you Paul. Wonderful article. Your sister and equal in Christ, blessings.

  7. Thank-you for addressing this subject. Too much gender discrimination exists in the church, circumventing or cancelling God’s calls on women’s lives. One might like to look at the creation of Eve in a slightly different (than always taught by men) light. When God created her to be a helper to Adam, notice: Only one of them needed help.

  8. I love this fact, God is no respecter of person(s)
    We are all viewed the same as equal from God, we are forgiven and made as equals, thanks to Son Jesus for us.

    As man to this day does not see it that way/ As Father sees the inside and man does not, as man’s ways are not God’s

    Time to be inside out, start by Faith, Belief to see this from inside out, renewing of the mind that Father does in us, all that turn to him willingly, Thanks to Son the two as Won (One) for us to be won in them as one amazing gift to stand in, as emotions try to mislead us, over bad stuff that has happened to us or is happening to us, each go through this to see truth if one will stand willing to learn from it all.
    j

    James 1 has much to say on that
    Thanks for seeing we all are today made equal, by God for us.

    • lol, Wendy, you make me laugh. Adam and Eve is an interesting subject. She was free to roam about as she pleased, she was free to choose her own decisions, although the wrong one in regards to eating the forbidden apple and she was free to invite her husband to do likewise, although that was the wrong choice, yet in God’s eyes she did not sin, the only sin was eating of the apple. It is indeed up to women in Christ to really understand who they are in Christ and not tolerate any male to slightly diminish her freedom or her authority without fear or shame.
      Happy New Year

  9. Galatians 3:28 ladies

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