We can look to Jesus, over and over, to see that God loves women just as much as men, and to help us reflect on respect, dignity and inclusion.
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
8 After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
I (Maddie) have spent my entire life at this church. I spent 7 years at Kids Church. I’m 4 years into Youth.
In all my time, I’ve never thought that God loved me any less because I’m a woman. The bible is very clear on the unconditional equality of God’s love. However, I do know people that have experienced that doubt, not because God is unloving, but because the church sometimes fails to hold men and women equally.
I am not saying that this church is sexist or that women have no place in it – my own experiences oppose that. However, we must continue to improve.
I’m privileged to work with young girls at Kids on Fridays. Helping them grow and strengthen their love for God is such a precious experience, and I am so blessed to be part of that. Watching them grow, I want them to be shaped by Jesus, and with the help of strong Christian women. Looking to Jesus, we must foster an environment where they are comfortable, respected and safe in the knowledge that they will be heard and acknowledged.
In the passage, we see Jesus making it crystal clear that he treats women with a full measure of dignity, love and inclusion. In a society where women were not equals with men, Jesus honoured the repentant woman above his male host, praising her for her love and for recognising the gift of God. She becomes the centre of the story, with Jesus, and her ministry of loving and glorifying God shines down to us across the centuries. Through her example, she ministers to us. At the same time, the arrogance, power plays and sexism of the Pharisees give us an altogether different example – one that Jesus unconditionally criticises.
Luke tells us that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Suzanna and many others travelled with Jesus and participated in his ministry. In fact, Luke reminds us on several occasions in his gospel that these women and others are central to the story and to testifying about Jesus (as we’ll see in tomorrow’s passage).
We’re left with some strong conclusions: first, that Jesus’ love and forgiveness is equally available to women and men because both are fully embraced and valued by God; and second, that women’s role in the body of believers in central and critical. Recognition of the latter is slowly growing in the wider church, and ours is taking it seriously. Let’s not sit back and rest, but rather look more and more deeply at the example of Jesus including, valuing and loving women completely, as he also did with men.
In a community that is big on love and support because of Jesus, it’s vital that girls – young and old – are celebrated, and their faith testifies to God’s glory in a way that inspires the next generation. Our church already thinks that it is important to hear and amplify women’s voices. Nevertheless, we must focus on providing more public opportunities for women’s thoughts and experiences be heard not only by the wider church, but by little girls and teens.
Head: Is there a disconnect between how Jesus thinks about this issue and how you think about it?
Heart: The core of this passage is love, respect, forgiveness, and truly putting God first. Whether you’re a man or a woman, do you reflect these priorities when you think about gender issues in the church? What might tempt you to do otherwise?
Hands: Be prepared and willing to have conversations between men and women where you hear about, and listen to, a woman’s experience of living and serving in our church. Conduct these conversations in a spirit of both love and truth, listening deeply.
Prayer: Our father, we thank you for women and men and for loving us all equally. Thanks for the example of Jesus, who treats women with love, dignity and inclusion. Please help us to be a community that keeps improving as we follow Jesus’ example in this matter as in all others. We are sorry for the times that we have done poorly at this, as individuals or together. Amen.
A song to listen to: Never alone
Maddie Pryde and Geoff Pryde- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina