Our nation was deeply moved last week as Christine Blasey Ford told her story before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her sense of terror and vulnerability were palpable. Milliions, both men and women, were moved to tears. She represented a symbol for women everywhere who feel powerless, helpless and, often, afraid. In every culture, in every time and place, this seems to be true. Perhaps there are exceptions, but they are rare.
Jesus rose above customs and traditions to demonstrate the worth and value of women.
When Jesus came to the well in Samaria, he remained alone while his disciples went into the nearby village searching for provisions. A single woman approached. She came at an odd hour, when other women would not be present. She was taken aback to find a man at the well. Refusing to make eye contact, she hoped to avoid any interaction with this Jewish stranger. She intended to fill her bucket quickly and be on her way.
But Jesus would not let the moment pass. He asked her for water. She was shocked. “You, a Jew, would ask water from me, a Samaritan woman?” Jesus engaged her more deeply. This thoroughly confused the woman who challenged him with the Samaritan’s tradition of worshipping at Gerazim rather than Jerusalem. Again His response stunned her. He did not argue the point. He did not put her down. He said, “I tell you a time is coming when true worshippers will worship God neither in Jerusalem nor Gerazim but they will worship in spirit and in truth.” He offered her living water from which she would never thirst.
When the disciples appeared they were shocked. None of them dared say anything but their body language and the look in their eye betrayed their thoughts. It was unheard of that a Jewish man would be found conversing with a Samaritan woman, especially alone. (John 4).
Later, another woman was dragged to Jesus because she had been caught in the act of adultery. Her accusers stood glaring, stones gripped in their hands, waiting for Jesus to condemn the woman. Instead, he bent over and wrote in the sand. Whatever he wrote convicted all of her accusers. The men who were ready to stone the woman were overcome with guilt. One-by-one they dropped their stones and slowly drift away. Then, taking her face in his hands and looking intently into her eyes he forgave her. “Where are your accusers?” He asked. She responded, “There are none.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.” (John 8).
Following His crucifixion Jesus chose to show Himself alive first to the women and only later to the men. They carried the news to the eleven who were huddled in a secret room. The men dismissed the women’s report as idle gossip. Only later, when Jesus appeared among them did they realize the truth of the women’s report the He was, indeed, risen.
The Apostle summed up the Scriptural position on gender when he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).