Some church denominations deny the calls on women’s lives and stifle the use of their spiritual gifts. Thus, their kingdom purposes are thwarted. When women in these congregations seek to make a difference, they are silenced as they cry out in their closets of prayer and intercession. These denominations adhere to doctrines of men and hold on to traditions rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to bring fresh manna to their churches. “It’s time to let God’s people go.”
Doors in these places of worship are being closed for half of God’s creative beings when Jesus has already broken it down the barriers. These closed doors began right after the fall of humankind in the Garden of Eden. After the disobedience of Adam and the female image-bearer (later named Eve) in the garden, their relationship with God was severed. Their disobedience was consequential, but astoundingly, God started the redemptive process in the midst of severing their ties with the first couple.
The serpent (Satan) who was trespassing in the Garden of Eden, had engaged the woman in vigorous discourse which ended up with her accepting what he said rather than obeying God. She ate the fruit and disobeyed God’s prohibition. She also gave some of the fruit to her husband, Adam, was there with her as she engaged in conversation with the serpent. He, also, ate it, disobeying God prohibition.
In delivering the curses brought on by the couple’s sins, God told the serpent that he “. . . will put enmity between you (the serpent /Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he (Jesus) will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
Well, Jesus Christ was the offspring of the woman (named, Eve, in Genesis 20:3, right after the fall and after God’s deliverance of the consequential curses). Jesus the Christ crushed the head of Satan and devastated the kingdom of darkness.
Now, the first part of that verse cannot be overlooked because and when we do, we fail to grasp the devastation that Satan has wrought against women down through the ages. In the first part of the verse, God says:
. . . I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and hers (Jesus); . . .
We know how much Satan hates Jesus, but what many have missed is that his vitriol has been toward women as well. (It is God who said this, not me.) He has a deep-seated hatred and an intense hostility toward women. (That does not mean that he does not hate men, too.) However, God said that he “will put enmity between Satan and the woman.” (Genesis 3:5) So, Satan has warred against our Lord and Savior, but he has also unleashed “enmity” against women down through the ages. I believe this is born out in scripture. Satan, the arch enemy of women, has used extreme measures to dehumanize women since the fall.
It started—the liberation of mankind—when Jesus was born in that Bethlehem stable to a young peasant girl who was betrothed to an older man, Joseph. The insignificance of his birth was a stark contrast to the cataclysmic destruction that Jesus would wreak upon the kingdom of darkness. No one could have imagined that this baby would be the Savior of the world. (Joseph, the man to whom she was betrothed could have had her put away or even worse, stoned to death.) However, Joseph adhered to the message of the angel, Gabriel, who appeared to him in a dream. and told him to take Mary as his wife.
Jesus, the Liberator
Our Savior, Jesus, started the liberation of women, I believe, started during his ministry while he walked the streets of Israel. Every encounter that Jesus had with women was purposeful and relevant in biblical and historical annals of women’s destinies. In the Middle East of that time, women had very few rights. You can study history or just look at the way women are treated today in some Middle Eastern countries, To add to that backdrop, the Jewish nation had been conquered by and was ruled by the even more repressive Roman Empire, ruled by Caesar.
I do not believe that these cultural limitations of women were lost on Jesus. He revolutionized women’s lives by interacting with them at a time when they had few rights. He did this, even though he did not come to the earth at that time to overthrow the dictatorial Roman Empire or the patriarchal Jewish culture. He came to bring salvation and reformation to the hearts of men and women.
In looking at some of Jesus’ encounters with women, we get a better understanding of just how significant his affirmations were. He took away their centuries old second-class status, reproach and devaluation and started the process of making them image-bearers of God again.
Restoring Women to Multi-dimensional Beings
Jesus demolished the view of women as irrelevant one-dimensional, i.e., the mother of male children and he started the process of restoring their multidimensional status. Eve, the name that Adam gave the woman after the fall, meant “mother of all living,” and while motherhood is a most relevant and honorable part of a woman’s life, Jesus began to reestablish women as a multi-dimensional image-bearers of God. He began the process of humanizing women who were created by God to walk along beside their male counterparts and take dominion here on the earth.
As I look over scripture, I can see the compassion that Jesus had whenever he encountered a woman. This boldness toward the plight of women was revolutionary and often overlooked. In Luke 11:27-28, Jesus broke through the customs and traditions of the time as he encountered, the Bible states, “ a certain woman,” in the crowd. She hollered out to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts which nursed You!” I believe she saw that as speaking a blessing over Jesus. So it must have come as a shock to her and the others in the crowd when Jesus said this to her, “On the contrary, blessed (happy, favored by God) are those who hear the word of God and continually observe it.” (AMP) Jesus was not denouncing motherhood; he was affirming that hearing, obeying and practicing the Word of God trumps being a mother, which had been the only role that women played in life. That was revolutionary!
Removing the Status of Women as Sexual Seductresses
The second stereotype that Jesus destroyed was that of women being blamed for sexual sins. For many centuries, the sexual sins of men (and women) were blamed on women. Jesus cut to the core of the issue in Matthew 5:27-28 when He placed the sexual sins of men squarely on their own shoulders. He said that “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The stereotype was shattered even more profoundly when the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery in Matthew 8:3-11. Their purpose for bringing the woman to Jesus was their hope that His answer would enable them to bring charges against Him. However, the incident also brought to light the insignificance of the person-hood of women of that period. They continually questioned Him about what to do with the adulterous woman until He finally answered by pointing to the evil in them. Here is what He said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” He then continued by writing on the ground with his fingers. (John 8:7-8) Now it was not clear what He was writing on the ground. In speculation one might surmise that he may have been writing down the sins and hypocrisy of the men who had brought the woman to him. Or perhaps He was writing about these men who had brought to him an adulterous woman, but refused to condemn or bring to him the man who participated in the act of adultery with her. Those are speculations, we do not know what Jesus wrote on the ground. We do know that the Bible states that the men began to leave one by one as if they had been convicted of their own sins. After revealing the hypocrisy of the men, here is what Jesus did: He straightened up and asked the woman, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” The woman exclaimed that there was no one. So Jesus said, “Then Neither do I condemn you,” he then declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11, NIV)
Removing the Unclean Status of Women
Also, women were viewed as unclean during their monthly menses cycle, so Jesus broke down that barrier as well: he healed the woman with the issue of blood. (Mark 5:25-31. 33-34) The woman who came out of the crowd seeking Jesus was desperate; she had been to so many physicians and had spent all of her money to no avail. Now remember, women were not allowed to be out in the public during that time of the month. However, this woman was desperate as she reached out to Jesus, even to the point of risking being punished or even being stoned to death. She said, “If I could only touch His garment as she moved through the crowd.” Can you imagine her fear as she approached Jesus? However, as she touched Jesus, her flow dried up.
Then something else happened; Jesus did several things: He first asked, “Who touched my clothes?” He recognized that power had gone out of Him. (Mark 5:30) This baffled His disciple for there were many who were pressing against Him. Jesus knew who had received the healing—He just wanted the woman to publicly announce in faith her healing so that it could be sealed. She must have been petrified to have been exposed. In this encounter, Jesus was delegitimizing the woman’s unclean status and legitimizing her status as a child of God. He said, “Daughter, your faith has restored your health.” (Mark 5:25-34)
Proclaiming Women as Disciples
Fourthly, Jesus moved women beyond the traditional roles of the culture; as the master teacher, he moved them toward being disciples. Jesus was not just a friend of Lazarus, he was a friend of his sisters, Martha and Mary. Jesus defied the limitations on women when He visited the sisters, Martha and Mary. Mary sat at His feet as only disciples did with the Master teacher or rabbis. (Luke 10:41-42) She sat down at his feet to hear His teachings. Martha hurried about fixing and preparing food for Jesus. Some might say that Martha with her busy and frantic behavior was doing the good, the laudable, the right thing for women. Dorothy Sayers notes that every sermon she has ever heard has tried to explain away these verses because many in the church prefer the Martha scenario. Sayers notes that it was unheard of for a woman to sit at the feet of a Master teacher as Mary did. Why—she was acting like any other disciple! That was then and it is still a hard pill now for some to swallow in some churches . (See Destiny Denied, Boone Wooten, p. 113) Most people would have thought that Jesus would have sided with Martha, but here is what Jesus said about the matter:
He chastised Martha gently, saying, “Martha, Martha, you are troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” The Amplified Bible says that Mary has chosen “that which is to her advantage (or benefit).” (Luke 10:41-42) Mary had defied the traditional role of women–to serve and not be seen. Martha was uncomfortable with Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and being taught, but Jesus was not.
It is important that we notice Jesus’ treatment of Martha–He lets her down easily. He did not tell Martha to stop bothering Mary. After all, Martha was serving and that is an honorable virtue. He did tell her that Mary had chosen “the good part, which will not be taken away from her.” In essence, listening to and being taught the Word of God trumped all things for all people, including women!
Declaring Women Teachable; the Samaritan Woman Was Taught the First Salvation Message
The fifth stereotype shattered by Jesus was His direct encounter with the Samaritan woman, “the teachable moment.” In this instance Jesus is leaving Judea to go to Galilee. The Bible states in John 4:4 that Jesus said that “He needed to go through Samaria.” Why did He need to go through Samaria? He needed to go through Samaria to make a divine encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. This encounter was not happenstance.
So, Jesus went through Samaria to meet this woman who was alone at the well. As the narrative goes, He came to a town in Samaria call Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was noon. John 4:5-6 (NIV) Now the Samaritan woman had come to the well to draw water. Jacob was the ancestor of both the Jews and the Samaritans. Samaritans were half-breeds—half Jews and half foreigners. The Jews disparagingly called them dogs.
She had no idea of the divine encounter that awaited her at the well. Jesus asked her to give Him a drink. That surprised her because He was a Jew. Obviously, she, as was the case with all Samaritans, had no social contact with Jews. Jesus noted to her, “if only you knew who it was that ask you for a drink—you would have asked Him to give you living water. (John 4:10) The woman had no idea about what this Jew was talking—she was just trying to draw water from her ancestor Jacob’s well. She thought that maybe this water He was talking about would eliminate her having to come to the well to draw water again.
Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah and began to teach her the salvation message–in fact, it was the first salvation message. He told her that those who drink the water from Jacob’s well will thirst again, but those who drink from the living water that He provides will never thirst again. He continued by saying that His living water gives life eternally. The woman began to understand and asked Jesus for this living water. When she asked Jesus for the eternal living water, it gave Jesus the opening to address her living arrangement and thus gave her the opportunity to reevaluate her life. Jesus began to tell her about her life. He told her of her five husbands and that she was now living with a sixth man.
Now, in many traditional churches, this Samaritan woman has been portrayed as a prostitute or a woman who was completely amoral in every sense. But this woman’s life bears reviewing again. Firstly, she had been married to five men. The thing is she, more than likely could not have been able to divorce five husbands. Men were the ones who would usually got the divorces. it was no way that a multi-divorced woman be considered marriage material for multiple marriages. And she was now with a sixth man! This just was not a plausible alternative at that time in that culture! Women had to be virtuous, even when men did not have to be. There had to have been another reason to explain the five marriages. The most plausible answer to this was that her first husband must have died and each of the other four without siring children, especially sons. So, the second, third, fourth and fifth husbands were kinsman redeemers. Let me explain: During ancient times, there were what they called kinsman redeemers– men who would marry the widows of their deceased kinsmen and sire the first child for the dead man if the deceased man had no male heirs. Jesus did not speak of children in the Samaritan woman’s life. More than likely, kinsman redeemers married her each time a husband died without heirs. Remember: if all of her husbands had divorced her those five times, no man, including the one with whom she was living would have wanted to marry her! Now, there is a moral dilemma here with this sixth man; she was not married to him. It is possible that she was just tired of marrying or the sixth prospect decided that he was not going to marry her and provide an heir for his deceased relatives. Anyway, they were living in an immoral relationship and that was certainly a sin!
We know the rest of the story. The woman ran to tell the others, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29). John 4:39 states it this way: “Many of the Samaritans…believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.”
Jesus exposed the myth passed down through the ages that women were irrelevant and unteachable. The Samaritan woman was the first one that Jesus taught the salvation message and the first in which he identified himself as the Messiah. This miracle of that day sends an even greater message today that Jesus uses men and women for kingdom purposes and a person’s past does not disqualify her or him!
Relying on the Witness of Women.
The sixth stereotype that Jesus debunked the myth that women were unreliable witnesses. Mary Magdalene was the one from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. She was also one of the women who traveled with Him and contributed to His care. Jesus did not think Mary was an unreliable witness because she was the first person that He appeared to after rising from the dead. (Mark 16:9) In fact, He told Mary to go tell Peter and the disciples that he had risen and to meet Him in Galilee. He appeared to Mary in John 20:14-17 when she returned to the tomb. He could have appeared to Peter and John while they were at the tomb earlier in John 20: 2-8, but he made a choice to appear to Mary when she returned. (John 20:14-17) In fact, it was the first gospel message and it was delivered by Mary Magdalene, the first evangelist. Jesus found her reliable and thus, a credible witness.
Using Women as Apostles
Using women apostolically was not part of Jesus’ walk on the earth, but it is so relevant to women being free to walk in their kingdom callings. Some churches have used flawed scripture interpretations to deny women apostolic leadership roles. Women have been told that only men can be apostles. The irony here is if that were true, the very Gentile men who make that claim would be disqualified. The original twelve disciples were Jewish males from Galilee who spoke the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. They were also the only ones who were eye-witnesses to Jesus’ ministry here on the earth. Those criteria would eliminate those very Gentile men who restrict women from the apostolic ministry—Gentile men are not Jewish males from Galilee; they do not usually speak the Hebrew and Aramaiclanguages, and they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry here on the earth. (Boone Wooten, Destiny Denied) So, the reason for disallowing women apostles is debunked!
I realized that there is just no excuse for the ill treatment of anyone in the church today, whether it is the poor, the homeless, the person of a different racial-ethnic group, the uneducated, or women because Jesus died for all and there are no exceptions! But not only that, He also died that all of His people would fulfill kingdom destiny and be equipped to go into the world, to teach, make disciples, baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:28) So, Jesus paid the price for women apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists. He paid the price so that everyone’s spiritual gifts will be used to edify the church. Each person is free through the death and resurrection of Christ to seek God’s face about his/her God-give destiny and purpose.
Although some in the church continue to saddle women with grave clothes, traditions and the doctrines of men, God is supernaturally opening doors that have heretofore been closed. He has heard the heart-cry of women who have sought to make a difference. Women have been restricted and have been suffocating spiritually because their voices have been silenced and their spiritual gifts have been ignored. The traditional church must stop stifling one-half of God’s people. So, churches, ministry leaders, denominations–it is time to let God’s people go!
Scripture for Meditation:
Ephesians 2:10 — Even before we were born God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!
Jeremiah 1:5 — Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Revelation 20:12 — And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.