Women’s Liberation and Jesus’ Ministry

Bible stories are unvarnished. Heroes of the faith are presented as they really were, including their struggles. Instead of glossing over faults, we get the true picture. When considering the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ ministry, we should take note of who is mentioned and what we can learn from them…including the women. Since Jesus’ ministry contrasted 1st Century norms by including females, did that make Him a champion of women’s liberation? Well, in a word-yes; however, it wasn’t about rights; it was about freedom…true freedom. Jesus was (and is) in the liberation business. He said of Himself:

“Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” – Matthew 8:36 

In Luke 7:36-50 we see a beautiful display of worship by a lady party-crasher. The scene is at Simon the Pharisee’s house and the woman is unnamed. She comes in and with many tears; washes Jesus’ feet, wipes them with her hair and anoints them with fragrant oil. The scripture tells us Simon mentally focused on her sinner’s past, but Jesus verbally notes her forgiven future. I am amazed at the lessons to be learned from the women surrounding Jesus. Time and again they stood taller than the men in their boldness to follow Christ. To be honest, it can still be true today. So what can we learn from her example? Let’s consider:

  • Her Brokenness – She saw herself in the pure light of Jesus’ presence. Unlike the Pharisee who sensed no need for the Lord’s forgiveness, she realized her soul’s need. There were many tears and an outpouring of gratitude to Him. In the process, she not only received forgiveness, she also heard the Master say, “Go in peace.” Many look for peace through various pursuits, but only Jesus can deliver real lasting peace.
  • Her Humility – By lowering her hair for use as a makeshift towel, she gave up any remaining pretense of dignity (women’s hair represented their glory as a woman). It was a humble act and evidence of a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).
  • Her Boldness – By crashing Simon’s banquet, she risked further talk around town of her lacking character. What would they say? How would Jesus respond? She didn’t know how it would all work out, but she went ahead anyway and demonstrated her love.
  • Her Gift – By providing the fragrant oil, she gave of what she had. Like the women followers mentioned in the verses afterwards (Luke 8:1-3), the woman at Simon’s house displayed a grateful heart and gave to Jesus out of her substance. It’s no coincidence that the word “give” is in the middle of “forgiveness” – it’s central to what the word means.
  • Her Take-away – When she left Simon’s house, she carried with her the most valuable and precious treasure ever acquired – eternal life. Jesus told her, “Your faith has saved you…”, but Simon received nothing. He was close in proximity, but tragically distant in spirit. 

James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead. I don’t know Simon’s reasons for inviting Jesus to his house. Perhaps he was truly interested, but his lack of hospitality suggests otherwise. In the end, the woman was the one with faith in action. For those of us who have trusted Christ, we have received much. We can learn a lot from the women who followed Christ. They were grateful, bold and willing to tell of His love. 

Think about it, the Samaritan woman-at-the-well saw a whole village changed by simply telling of her encounter with Christ. How about us? As a guy, I’m ready to fight, but am I ready to give? Am I ready to be humble? Am I ready to tell? Ouch, I think I just got pinched by the truth. I guess it’s time to step it up! 

Series – “Thoughts on Luke” – Luke 7:36-8:3

About cchrisholland

...husband, dad, pastor, teacher, and chronic day-dreamer
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