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JESUS WAS INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE
EDITED BY GLENN PEASE
How Jesus Interacted With People
Does evangelismmake you nervous? If so, it will help to study carefully how
Jesus interactedwith people. Whom did He meet? How did He connectwith
them? Where did the encounters take place? Who initiated contact? What
happened in the conversation'
Like Jesus’originalfollowers, believers today are sent into the world to be His
witnesses (v. 48 [Luke 24]; compare Matt. 28:18-20;Acts 1:8). We can learn
much about how to handle that assignmentby asking questions of the four
narratives of Jesus’life—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They include more
than 40 meetings betweenJesus and various individuals.
Who started the conversation'
In nine cases,Jesus initiatedthe conversations.Examples:
a Samaritan woman(John 4:7-42)
a crippled beggar(John 5:1-15)
In 25 instances, it was the other party who started the discussion. Jesus
responded to other people’s inquiries. Examples:
a rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-30)
a demoniac (Mark 5:1-20)
Jairus, a synagogue ruler (Mark 5:21-43)
a hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:24-34)
Other conversations were triggeredby third parties. Examples:
tax collectorsand other “sinners,” invited to a party by Matthew (Matt. 9:9-
13)
Herod, introduced by Pilate (Luke 23:6-16)
Nathaniel, invited by Philip (John 1:45-51)
an adulterous woman brought by the scribes (John 8:1-11)
Where did the conversationtake place'
The majority of Jesus’interactions occurredin the workplace.Examples:
with James and John (Matt. 4:21-22)
with a Samaritan woman(John 4:7-42)
with a lame man (John 5:1-15)
Many took place in homes. Examples:
at Peter’s house with his mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31)
with a Syro-Phoenicianwoman(Mark u:24-30)
at Zacchaeus’house (Luke 19:1-10)
Few were in religious settings. Instead, Jesus talkedwith people about
spiritual issues where they were most familiar. He did not need a special
environment or controlover the circumstances to discuss things of eternal
significance.
What was discussed'
Jesus askedquestions in more than half of the conversations He had. This is
similar to God’s first response to the first sinners in history, when He asked
four questions of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:9, 11, 13). Examples:
an adulterous woman (John 8:1-11)
the scribes (Luke 5:17-26)
His mother and brothers (Matt. 12:46-50)
the Pharisees(Luke 6:6-11)
He connectedwith people’s thoughts and feelings. He understood that new
ideas need to be connectedwith existing frames of reference if they are to last.
He seldom pressedfor “closure”ora decision. Instead, He understood that
time is required for ideas to simmer and for people to own them before they
act on them.
What can we learn from Jesus’example'
Jesus knew how to take initiative.
Jesus respondedto the initiatives of others.
Jesus left room in his schedule for interruptions by friends and others
enlisting his help.
Jesus usually met people on their own turf.
Jesus was interestedin establishing common ground with others.
Witnessing is a science, anart, and a mystery. It involves connecting your
faith with people’s experience in a way that they canunderstand it, in their
own time and manner. It means cooperating with whateverGod’s Spirit may
be doing with them and leaving the results to Him.
The Word in Life Study Bible, New TestamentEdition, (Thomas Nelson
Publishers, Nashville; 1993), pp. 318-319
25 WAYS JESUS INTERACTEDWITH PEOPLE
Postedon July 23, 2014 by Mathew Gilbert
2 Votes
Yelin-bergpredigt-ca1912Jesus interactedwith many different kinds of people
from many different walks oflife in his three yearministry. He interacted
with adults and children, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the religious
and the irreligious, the healthy and the sick. In thinking through the best ways
to do evangelismand ministry, looking to how Jesus relatedto the people he
came to save is a great example for us to follow. Evangelisminvolves much
more, though not less, than repeating a messageortelling a story. Evangelism
involves interacting with various kinds of people in various kinds of situations.
Everyone is not like us and effective evangelisminvolves getting to know
people and dealing with them where they are. In order to become more
effective evangelists in our community, Jesus, the evangelistpar excellence
serves as an example of how we should interact with people for the sake ofthe
gospel. I gatheredthe following list from a class I took at Boyce Collegethis
summer lectured by Bruce Carlton. Here are 25 insights that we canglean
from Jesus’interactions with various people in various situations.
Jesus goeswhere people are.
Jesus seespeople as people.
Jesus treats all people as having needs regardless ofsocial, racial, oreconomic
status.
When there is an opportunity, Jesus seeks to respond immediately.
Jesus is able to discern when people show spiritual interests.
Jesus identifies genuine seekers andspends time with them personally.
Jesus demonstrates to people that he cares aboutthem.
Jesus is culturally sensitive.
Jesus commends people for their positive qualities.
Jesus listens to people’s stories.
Jesus shows interests in what others are interested.
Jesus communicates to people on their level.
Jesus oftenasks probing questions.
Jesus always has a positive attitude.
Jesus appeals to Scripture.
Jesus shares his own testimony.
Jesus avoids arguing with people.
Jesus confronts sin.
Jesus presents the gospelclearly.
Jesus always displays God’s grace.
Jesus ministers to the whole person: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Jesus does not allow himself to become distractedfrom what he wants to
communicate.
Jesus always brings people to a point of making a decision.
Jesus challengespeople to exercise faith.
Jesus respects people’s freedom.
JESUS’INTERACTION WITHPEOPLE
Postedon August 18, 2009 by Scottunder devotional, Jesus, mission
meditationFor those who have studied the Gospels and the life of Jesus, it is
quite easilyrecognisable that He spent most of His time training up the
twelve. Jesus knew the importance of pouring His life into a smaller group,
which would then be able to impact thousands of people (as evidencedin the
book of Acts).
But, though Jesus spent time giving so much to the twelve, He also regularly
interacted with the crowds. Why? Jesus was the great shepherd (John 10). He
caredfor people because that is what shepherds do. One of the most
detrimental things within church leadershipwould be those who are
‘untouchable’. One who calls himself or herself ‘pastor’ and yet is never
accessible to the people, that person has failed to understand the shepherd
heart of God.
Though many might read the passagebelow as a specific messageabout
evangelistic missions, it is possible that we need to rethink what this is
communicating:
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their
synagoguesand proclaiming the gospelof the kingdom and healing every
disease andevery affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion
for them, because they were harassedand helpless, like sheep without a
shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the
labourers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestlyto the Lord of the harvestto
send out labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
Now, there is no doubt this passage speaksinto the area of missions. But I
believe it does so from an angle leastexpected – from Christ’s shepherding
heart.
In vs36, we see that Jesus is moved with compassionforthe people because
they were ‘harassedand helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’. It is
following such a statement that Jesus then states, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but
the labourers are few;therefore pray earnestlyto the Lord of the harvest to
send out labourers into his harvest.’
So we are not only sent with goodnews to tell other people, but we are sent to
care for those to whom we bring the message, forwe are a community of
shepherds in Christ.
We also see Jesus’shepherd heart in the specific ways He interacted with
people. There are three main senses that Christ used regularly in His
interaction: touch, sight and hearing.
Jesus Was Willing to Touch People
Jesus Was Willing to Look at People
Jesus Was Willing to Listen to People
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Jesus Was Willing to Touch People
Here is a goodpassageto start with:
1 When he came down from the mountain, greatcrowds followedhim. 2 And
behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will,
you canmake me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretchedout his hand and touched him,
saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosywas cleansed. 4 And
Jesus saidto him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself
to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
(Matthew 8:1-4)
In vs3, we read that Jesus stretchedout His hand and touched the leper. As
most of us will know, the leper was a hopeless casein such a society. The Jews
of the day had probably used the commands of Leviticus 13-14 to completely
ostraciseanyone with a skin disease.Therefore, Jesus was stepping oversuch
a formulated boundary to touch this ‘unclean’ man.
When was the lasttime this man had been touched? Months, years, decades?
This man truly needed to be touched by someone. And it is from this touch of
Jesus that the healing power flowedinto the man’s body.
We see a similar story in Mark 5:25-34 where a woman touches Jesus to
receive healing from a 12-yearbleeding disorder.
Jesus also showedHis love for children by extending a touch to them, holding
them and blessing them, even in the midst of the selfishrebuke of the
disciples.
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the
disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said
to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such
belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I sayto you, whoeverdoes not receive
the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his
arms and blessedthem, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16)
In all, as Jesus was, we must be accessible to people. We cannotbe standoffish,
closedoff or even feel too important to interact with people. And we must
even be willing to let people to have accessto us, even close access.This is part
of the true shepherd heart of Jesus to reachhumanity.
Jesus Was Willing to Look at People
If you can, take a moment to read Mark 10:17-27.
This rich man had fooledhimself to believe that he had done all that was
needed to inherit eternallife. But he was lacking one thing.
Now, Jesus couldhave been frustrated with the man and given him a strong
rebuke. But we read these incredible words in vs21:‘And Jesus, looking at
him, loved him…’
Eye contactshows interest, involvement and vulnerability, even
communicating love. Now, the rich man could have avoided such eye contact,
but, from these words, we againsee Jesus’willingness to closelyinteract with
humanity. And only after looking at Him did Jesus say, ‘You lack one thing.’
Also, take a minute to read Luke 19:1-10.
In vs5, we read that Jesus lookedup at Zacchaeus and spoke to him. Now,
why is this significant? Well, here is Zacchaeus, shortin stature, climbing up
in a tree to see Jesus. He was not your average religious man, nor a popular
man by any means. He was more likely a very hated man. But here he is
desperatelyclimbing up into a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. It reminds us of
the blind man, Bartimaeus, who kept yelling out for Jesus to come over to him
(see Mark 10:46-52).
So, to the detriment of his own public image, we see Zacchaeus making every
effort to see this man he had heard so much about. And when Jesus arrived at
the tree, He simply lookedup at Zacchaeus, spoketo him and then went to
hang out at his house. Again, Jesus made Himself available to the despisedof
His culture.
Jesus Was Willing to Listen to People
If you have a moment, check out Luke 24:13-39.
Here we find the accountof Jesus on the road to Emmaus with two of his
followers. Theyare quite disillusioned following Christ’s death on the cross,
unaware of the fact that He had come out of the grave.
Now, what we must realise is that this is Jesus’‘big day’. He had just risen
from the dead! Mostwould think He would have chosento make a spectacular
grand entrance back onto the scene. But what does He do? Jesus simply walks
a seven-mile dirt road with two of His followers.
In their confusion and disillusionment, Jesus drew near to His two followers,
walking the dusty path with them, listening to their conversation(vs15). Jesus,
then, throws a few questions out to provoke some more conversation(vs17
and 19). And He, again, takes time to listen to their story, or their complaint.
Later on, Christ would end up staying with them and it was through the act of
breaking bread that their eyes were opened(vs28-31).
Jesus couldhave spent time performing more miracles and wonders, though
He never actually did such to amaze people. He could have made appearances
to the religious leaders and Pilate to prove His resurrection. But He decided it
was best to draw near to two of His disciples who had takena grave blow to
their faith. He was more interested in restoring two disillusioned followers
than awing the crowdwith a spectacularperformance. This is the Messiah-
King, this is the greatservant of all. He was interestedin drawing near to
people and listening to them.
Another great‘listening’ accountis found in John 4:7-26 betweenJesus and
the Samaritanwoman at the well.
Jesus was not so important as to keeppeople at a distance. He was committed
to people, committed to interacting with humanity. Here was the great
shepherd whose first focus was not preaching nor catching vision nor having
greatevangelistic crusades.Here was the goodshepherd interacting with the
ones He had created. Here was God-in-the-flesh willing to touch, look at and
listen to people.
Jesus'interactions with women
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jesus'interactions with women are an important element in the theological
debate about Christianity and women. Women are prominent in the story of
Christ Jesus. He was born of a woman, had numerous interactions with
women, and was seenfirst by women after his resurrection. He commissioned
the womento go and tell his disciples that he is risen, which is the essential
messageofChristianity.
Contents
1 High number of references to women
2 Women as disciples
3 Women of obscurity noticedby Jesus
3.1 Peter's mother-in-law
3.2 The woman who touched Jesus'garment
3.3 Daughterof Jairus
3.4 Widow of Nain
3.5 The woman bent double
4 Women as models of faith
4.1 The widow of Zarephath
4.2 The Queenof the South
4.3 Parable of the ten virgins
4.4 The persistentwidow
4.5 A poor widow's offering
5 Women as models of Jesus'work
6 Women as persons of value
6.1 Raising their dead
6.2 Warning againstlust
6.3 Warning againstdivorce
7 Women as first resurrectionwitnesses
8 Mary, mother of Jesus
8.1 At the Temple in Jerusalem
8.2 At the wedding in Cana of Galilee
8.3 At the foot of the cross
9 Mary Magdalene
10 The woman takenin adultery
11 The woman at the well in Samaria
12 The woman from Syrophoenicia
13 Mary and Martha
13.1 Kitchen and study
13.2 The grieving sisters
14 Women who anointed Jesus
14.1 The anointing in Bethany
14.2 The anointing by a repentant sinner
15 Women who ministered with Jesus
16 Jesus on family relationships
17 Twelve and no women (and no Gentiles)
18 See also
19 Notes
High number of references to women
According to New TestamentscholarDr. Frank Stagg and classicistEvelyn
Stagg,[1]the synoptic Gospels of the canonicalNew Testament[2]containa
relatively high number of references to women. EvangelicalBible scholar
Gilbert Bilezikianagrees, especiallyby comparisonwith literary works of the
same epoch.[3]:p.82 Neither the Staggs norBilezikian find any recorded
instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, reproaches, orstereotypes a woman.
These writers claim that examples of the manner of Jesus are instructive for
inferring his attitudes toward womenand show repeatedly how he liberated
and affirmed women.[1]Starr writes that of all founders of religions and
religious sects, Jesusstands alone as the one who did not discriminate in some
way againstwomen. By word or deed he never encouragedthe disparagement
of a woman.[4]Karen King concludes, basedon the accountof Jesus'
interaction with a Syrophoenicianwoman in Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew
15:21-28, that "anunnamed Gentile womantaught Jesus that the ministry of
God is not limited to particular groups and persons, but belongs to all who
have faith."[5]
Women as disciples
The gospels ofthe New Testament, written toward the lastquarter of the first
century AD, often mention Jesus speaking to women publicly and openly
againstthe socialnorms of the time.[6] From the beginning, Jewishwomen
disciples, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, andSusanna, had accompanied
Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of their private means.[Lk.
8:1-3] [7] Kenneth E. Bailey[8]spent 40 years as a Presbyterianprofessorof
New Testamentin Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalemand Cyprus. He writes about
Christianity from a Middle Easterncultural view. He finds evidence in several
New Testamentpassagesthat Jesus had womendisciples. He first cites the
reported occasionwhenJesus’family appeared and asked to speak with him.
Jesus replied:
"Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand
towards his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For
whoeverdoes the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and
mother."
— Matthew 12:46-50, emphasis addedby Bailey
Baileyargues that according to Middle Easterncustoms, Jesus couldnot
properly have gesturedto a crowdof men and said, "Here are my brother,
and sister, and mother." He could only have said that to a crowdof both men
and women. Therefore, the disciples standing before him were composedof
men and women.[8]
Women of obscurity noticedby Jesus
The Gospels recordseveralinstances where Jesusreachesoutto
"unnoticeable" women, inconspicuous silentsufferers who blend into the
backgroundand are seenby others as "negligible entities destined to exist on
the fringes of life."[3] Jesus notices them, recognizes their need and, "in one
gloriously wrenching moment, He thrusts them on centerstage in the drama
of redemption with the spotlights of eternity beaming down upon them, and
He immortalizes them in sacredhistory."[3]:p.82
Peter's mother-in-law
Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:30-31, Luke 4:38-39
The three synoptic gospels allrecord the healing of Simon Peter's mother-in-
law. When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying
in bed with a fever. He healed the woman of fever by touching her hand. She
rose and beganto wait on him. With this particular healing, something unique
occurs. Quite often, after being healed, people left Jesus to go about their
renewedlives. Peter's mother-in-law, however, immediately rose and began to
"serve" him.
The woman who touched Jesus'garment
Illustration by Paolo Veronese ofJesus healing the womanwith a flow of
blood.
Mark 5:25-34
Jesus practicedthe ministry of touch, sometimes touching the "untouchables"
and letting them touch him. Among the things considereddefiling
(disqualifying one for the rituals of religion) was an issue of blood, especially
menstruation or hemorrhage. One such womanhad been plagued with a flow
of blood for 12 years, no one having been able to heal her. She found the faith
in a crowd to force her wayup to Jesus, approaching him from behind so as to
remain inconspicuous, and simply touching his garment.[Mk. 5:27] When she
did, two things happened: the flows of blood stopped and she was
discovered.[3]:p.83
Jesus turned and askedwho touched him. The disciples tried to brush aside
the question, protesting that in such a crowdno individual could be singled
out. Jesus pressedhis inquiry and the woman came and trembled at his feet;
she explained her reasonand declaredamid the crowdwhat blessing had
come to her.[Lk. 8:47] Jesus treatedher as having worth, not rebuking her for
what the Levitical code of holiness would have consideredas defiling
him.[Lev. 15:19-25]Rather, he relieved her of any sense ofguilt for her
seemingly rashact, lifted her up and calledher "Daughter." He told her that
her faith savedher, gave her his love, and senther awaywhole.[Mk. 5:34]
Fontaine writes, "The 'chutzpah' shown by the womanwho bled for 12 years
as she wrests her salvationfrom the healer's cloak is as much a measure of her
desperationas it is a testimony to her faith."[9]:p.291 Fontaine comments that
"the Bible views women as a group of people who are fulfilled, legitimated,
given full membership into their community, and cared for in old age by their
children," and that barren women risked ostracismfrom their communities.
She notes that when disabled people are healed, the act"emphasizes primarily
the remarkable compassionofthe one doing the gooddeed, not the deserving
nature or dignity of the recipient."[9]:p.290
Daughterof Jairus
Mark 5:35-43
Jairus was one of the rulers of the Jewishsynagogue,and had a daughter who
had been very ill and was now at the point of death. She was an only daughter,
and was twelve years of age. So hearing that Jesus was near, Jairus came to
Jesus, and, falling down before him, implored Jesus to come and see his sick
daughter. She had been comatose, andin Matthew 9:18 her father says she is
already dead. Jesus wentto her, even though the others mockedhim and said
it was too late. When he saw her body, he took her by the hand and saidto
her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" She
immediately arose and walkedaround. He gave strict orders that no one
should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
Widow of Nain
Main article: Raising of the sonof the widow of Nain
Luke 7:11-17
The widow lived in a remote small town on a hillside in Galilee. However, the
death of her only son left her with little means of support.[1 Tim. 5:4] Jesus
noticed the grieving woman in the funeral procession. Jesus gave the
command "Arise!" and gave the bewildered sonback to his mother. "Theyall
knew that God had a speciallove for the little widow with one son in Nain of
Galilee."[3]:p.84
The woman bent double
Luke 13:10-17
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue onthe Sabbath and saw a womanwho had
been "crippled by a spirit for eighteenyears". She was bent over and could
not straightenup at all. He called to the woman, said "Woman, you are set
free from your infirmity", then laid his hands on her body, and immediately
she straightenedup and praised God.[Lk. 13:13]
The synagogue ruler, the defender of the Sabbath, was indignant because
Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. Rather than confront Jesus, he rebuked the
woman publicly by saying to the whole congregation, "There are six days for
work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath".[10]In
response, Jesussaid, "You hypocrites! Doesn'teachof you on the Sabbath
untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then
should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satanhas keptbound
for eighteenlong years, be setfree on the Sabbath day from what bound
her?"[Lk. 13:15-16]The Staggs emphasize that this is the only reference in
New Testamentto "a daughter of Abraham".[1] They conclude that Jesus
spoke of this woman as though she belongedto the family of Abraham just as
much as did the sons of Abraham.
Women as models of faith
Jesus who always kept his covenantof chastity presentedwomen as models of
faith to his listeners. In the culture of the day, women were neither to be seen
nor heard since they were considered"corrupting influences to be shunned
and disdained."[3]
The widow of Zarephath
Main article: Raising of the sonof the widow of Zarephath
Luke 4:24-26
The Queenof the South
Main article: Queenof the South (biblical reference)
Luke 11:31
Parable of the ten virgins
Main article: Parable of the TenVirgins
Matthew 25:1-13
The persistentwidow
Main article: Parable of the Unjust Judge
Luke 18:1-8
A poor widow's offering
Main article: Lessonof the widow's mite
Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4
Jesus honors a poor widow who cast"two copper coins" into the Temple
treasury. What the widow gave to God was the totality of her belongings.
Women had only limited accessto the Temple in Jerusalem. There Jesus
found the most praiseworthypiety and sacrificialgiving, not in the rich
contributors, but in a poor woman.[1]
Women as models of Jesus'work
In the Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Leaven, Jesus presents
his ownwork and the growth of the Kingdom of God in terms of a woman and
her domestic work.[11]Theseparables follow the Parable of the Lost Sheep
and the Parable of the Mustard Seedrespectively, and share the same
messages as their more male-orientedcounterparts.
JoelB. Greenwrites of the Parable of the Leaven that Jesus "askspeople —
male or female, privileged or peasant, it does not matter — to enter the
domain of a first-century woman and household cook in order to gain
perspective on the domain of God."[12]
Women as persons of value
Raising their dead
The Gospels describe three miracles of Jesus raising persons from the dead. In
two out of those three incidents the dead are restoredto women--to Mary and
Martha their brother Lazarus[Jn. 11:1-44]and to the unnamed widow from
Nain her only son.[Lk. 7:11-17]
Warning againstlust
Matthew 5:27-29
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounded upon the Ten Commandments.
He defended the value of women by equating men's lust to adultery,
punishable by hell.
Warning againstdivorce
Matthew 5:31-33
Jesus expounded upon the Book ofDeuteronomy. Regarding men's customof
divorce, he defended the rights of wives by equating unjustified divorce with
the guilt of causing the sin of adultery.
Women as first resurrectionwitnesses
After the ResurrectionofJesus, he chose to appear first to a group of women
and gave them the privilege of proclaiming his resurrection and
communicating his instructions to the Apostles.[Mt. 28:8-10]. This gives
further evidence that he did rise from the dead because why would someone
make up a story with witnessesthat couldn’t go to court
Mary, mother of Jesus
Main articles:Mary, mother of Jesus;BlessedVirgin Mary; and Theotokos
At the Temple in Jerusalem
Luke 2:41–52
The canonicalGospelsofferonly one story about Jesus as a boy—Luke's story
about the boy Jesus in the JerusalemTemple. According to Luke, his parents,
Josephand Mary, took the 12-year-oldJesus to Jerusalemon their annual
pilgrimage to the Passover. Maryand Josephstarted their journey home
without Jesus, thinking he was somewhere in the caravanwith kinsmen or
acquaintances. Whenhis parents found him three days later, Mary said, "Son,
why have you treatedus like this? Your father and I have been anxiously
searching for you." The boy Jesus respectfullybut firmly reminded her of a
higher claim he must answer: "Didn't you know I had to be about my
Father's business?"[1]:pp.103–104, 224It is noteworthy that in obedience to
his parents, Jesus left and was subjectto them.
At the wedding in Cana of Galilee
Main article: Marriage atCana
John 2:1–11
Mary told Jesus the wine was in short supply. Today his reply may seem curt:
"Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come."[Jn. 2:4]
Neither here nor elsewhere does Jesusrenounce the mother-son relationship
as such, but here, as in Luke 2:49, he declares his vocational(ministerial)
independence of his mother. He has an "hour" to meet, and Mary, though his
mother, can neither hastennor hinder its coming.[1]:pp.103–104,236
Mostscholars believe that in Jesus'reply to his mother there was no
disrespect. According to Matthew Henry's Commentary, he used the same
word when speaking to Mary with affectionfrom the cross.[13]ScholarLyn
M. Bechteldisagreeswith this reading. She writes that the use of the word
"woman" in reference to Jesus'mother is "startling. Although it would not be
improper or disrespectfulto address an ordinary woman in this way(as he
often does:see John 4:21, 8:10, 20:13-15), it is inappropriate to call his mother
'woman'" (Bechtel1997, p. 249). Bechtelfurther argues that this is a device
Jesus uses to distance himself from Judaism.
However, Bishop William Temple says there is no English phrase that
represents the original "Woman, leave me to myself." "In the Greek it is
perfectly respectful and can even be tender—as in John 19:27... We have no
corresponding term; 'lady' is precious, and 'madam' is formal. So we must
translate simply and let the contextgive the tone."[14]Some versions ofthe
Bible translate it as "Dearwoman". (John2:4 NLT; NCV; AMP)
At the foot of the cross
John 19:26-27
Jesus, being Mary's firstborn son, took the responsibility of caring for his
aging mother's future. Soonbefore he died, Jesus made arrangements for the
disciple whom Jesus loved to take care of her.
Mary Magdalene
Main article: Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene (also calledMiriam of Magdala)is among the women
depicted in the New Testamentwho accompaniedJesus and his twelve
apostles, andwho also helped to support the men financially.[Lk. 8:2–3]
According to Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56, John 19:25, and Luke 23:49, she
was one of the women who remained at Jesus'crucifixion. The New
Testamentsays she saw Jesus laid in a tomb. Mark 16:9 reports that after his
resurrection, Jesus appearedfirst to Mary Magdalene. The New Testament
also says that Jesus had cast sevendemons out of her.
For centuries, Mary Magdalene was identified in WesternChristianity as an
adulteress and repentant prostitute, although nowhere does the New
Testamentidentify her as such. In the late 20th century, discoveries ofnew
texts and changing critical insight brought this into question. According to
Harvard theologianDr. Karen King, Mary Magdalene wasa prominent
disciple and leaderof one wing of the early Christian movement that
promoted women's leadership.[5]
King cites references in the Gospelof John that the risen Jesus gives Mary
specialteaching and commissions heras an "apostle to the apostles."She is
the first to announce the resurrectionand to play the role of an apostle,
although the term is not specificallyusedof her (though, in Eastern
Christianity she is referred to as "Equal to the Apostles"). Later tradition,
however, names her as "the apostle to the apostles."King writes that the
strength of this literary tradition makes it possible to suggestthathistorically
Mary was a prophetic visionary and leaderwithin one sectorof the early
Christian movement after the death of Jesus.[5]Asbury TheologicalSeminary
Bible scholarBen Witherington III confirms the New Testamentaccountof
Mary Magdalene as historical:"Mary was an important early disciple and
witness for Jesus."[15]He continues, "There is absolutely no early historical
evidence that Miriam's (Mary's) relationship with Jesus was anything other
than that of a disciple to her Masterteacher."
Jeffrey Kripal, Chair of Rice University's Department of Religious Studies,
writes that Christian Gnostic texts put Mary Magdalene in a centralposition
of authority, but these texts were excluded from orthodox Biblical canons.
Kripal describes MaryMagdalene as a tragic figure who maintained an
important role later diminished by the male church leadership (Kripal 2007,
p. 51). Kripal explains that gnostic texts suggestanintimate, possibly sexual
relationship betweenJesus and Mary Magdalene, but that Jesus'sexuality is
absolutely ambiguous based on the available evidence:"The historicalsources
are simply too contradictoryand simultaneously too silent on the
matter".(Kripal 2007, p. 50)
According to Kripal, the gnostic texts "consistently[present] Mary as an
inspired visionary, as a potent spiritual guide, as Jesus'intimate companion,
even as the interpreter of his teaching".(Kripal 2007, p. 52) Kripal writes that
theologies ofthe European Middle Ages likely invented the notion of a sexual
relationship betweenMary Magdalene and Jesus:"The medieval Catharists
and Albigensians, for example, held that Mary was Jesus'concubine. The
greatProtestantreformer Martin Luther also assumeda sexual relationship
betweenthe two, perhaps to give some historical precedentfor his own
dramatic rejectionof Catholic celibacy".(Kripal2007, p. 52)
The woman takenin adultery
Main article: Jesus and the woman taken in adultery
"The adulterous woman" by Lorenzo Lotto.
John 7:53–8:11
This story, beloved for its revelationof God's mercy toward sinners, is found
only in John's Gospel.[16]Jesus wasteaching in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Some scribes and Phariseesinterrupted his teaching as they brought in a
woman who had been taken in the very act of adultery. Their treatment of the
woman is callous and demeaning. They stoodher before him, declaredthe
charge, reminded him of Moses'commandthat such womenbe stoned. More
precisely, the law speaks ofthe death of both the man and the woman
involved.[Lev. 20:10][Deut. 22:22-24]We are left wondering why the man
was not brought in along with the woman.
"What do you say?" they asked. If he is lax toward the law, then he is
condemned. But if he holds a strict line, then he has allowedthem to prevail in
their ungodly treatment of this womanand will be held responsible by the
Romans if the stoning proceeds. After a time of silence, Jesusstoopeddown
and wrote with his finger on the ground. It was unlawful to write even two
letters on the sabbath but writing with dust was permissible (m. shabbat 7:2;
12:5). The text includes no hint of what he wrote. The woman's accusers were
trying to entrap Jesus, not just the woman. To them she was a worthless
objectto be used to "catch" Jesus ona theologicallegalissue.
Finally, Jesus stoodup and said to the accusers, "Letthe one among you who
is without sin castthe first stone." He stoopeddown once more and again
wrote on the ground. In his answerJesus did not condone adultery. He
compelled her accusers to judge themselves and find themselves guilty—of
this sin and/or others. No one could pass the test, and they slipped out one by
one, beginning with the eldest.
When Jesus and the woman were finally alone, he askedhera simple
question, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She simply
replied, "No one, Lord." She becomes a memorable example of the fact that
"Goddid not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save
the world through him.[Jn. 3:17] Jesus says to her, "Neitherdo I condemn
you. Go, and from now on no longer sin."[Jn. 8:11]
"Here is mercy and righteousness.He condemnedthe sin and not the sinner."
(Augustine In John 33.6)But more than that, he calledher to a new life. While
acknowledging that she had sinned, he turned her in a new direction with real
encouragement. Jesusrejectedthe double standard for women and men and
turned the judgment upon the male accusers.His manner with the sinful
woman was such that she found herself challengedto a new self-
understanding and a new life.[1][17]
The woman at the well in Samaria
John 4:1–42
Orthodox icon of Photina, the Samaritanwoman, meeting Jesus by the well.
The in-depth accountabout Jesus and the SamaritanWoman at the Well is
highly significant for understanding Jesus in severalrelationships:
Samaritans, women, and sinners. By talking openly with this woman, Jesus
crosseda number of barriers which normally would have separateda Jewish
teacherfrom such a personas this woman of Samaria. Jesus did three things
that were highly unconventional and astonishing for his cultural-religious
situation:
He as a man discussedtheologyopenly with a woman.
He as a Jew askedto drink from the ritually unclean bucketof a Samaritan.
He did not avoid her, even though he knew her marital record of having had
five former husbands and now living with a man who was not her husband.
The disciples showedtheir astonishmentupon their return to the well: "They
were marveling that he was talking with a woman.[Jn. 4:27] A man in the
Jewishworld did not normally talk with a woman in public, not even with his
own wife. For a rabbi to discuss theologywith a woman was even more
unconventional. Jesus did not defer to a womansimply because she was a
woman. He did not hesitate to ask of the womanthat she let him drink from
her vessel, but he also did not hesitate to offer her a drink of another kind
from a Jewish"bucket" as he said to her, "Salvationis of the Jews."[Jn. 4:22]
Salvationwas coming to the Samaritanwoman from the Jews, andculturally
there was greatenmity betweenthe Jews and the Samaritans (considereda
half-breed race by the Jews).[18]Although she was a Samaritan, she needed
to be able to drink from a Jewish"vessel"(ofsalvation) and Jesus no more
sanctionedSamaritanprejudice againstJew than Jewishprejudice against
Samaritan.
This is an event without precedent:that a woman, and what is more a “sinful
woman,” becomes a “disciple” of Christ. Indeed, once taught, she proclaims
Christ to the inhabitants of Samaria so that they too receive him with faith.
This is an unprecedented event, if one remembers the usual way womenwere
treated by those who were teachers in Israel; whereas in Jesus of Nazareth’s
way of acting such an event becomes normal.
— Pope John Paul II[19]
The keyto Jesus'stance is found in his perceiving persons as persons. He saw
the strangerat the well as someone who first and foremostwas a person—not
primarily a Samaritan, a woman, or a sinner. This evangelizedwoman
became an evangelist. She introduced her community to "a man" whom they
came to acclaimas "the Savior of the world."[Jn. 4:42] Jesus liberatedthis
woman and awakenedher to a new life in which not only did she receive but
also gave. The Bible says she brought "many Samaritans" to faith in
Christ.[v.39]If the men in John 1 were the first "soul winners," this woman
was the first "evangelist" in John's gospel.[1]
The woman from Syrophoenicia
Main article: Exorcismof the Syrophoenicianwoman's daughter
Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30
This incident is unlike any other in the canonicalGospels. The woman, whose
little daughter was possessedby an impure spirit, came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She beggedJesus to drive
the demon out of her daughter. Jesus seems harshtowardthe woman as he
first denies her request for help for her daughter. He also appears to be
condescending and denigrating of her as he says, "Firstlet the children be fed,
for it is not fitting to take the bread of the children and throw it to the
dogs."[Mk.7:27]In the context, "the children" seemto be Jews and "the
dogs" Gentiles.
She is identified as "a Greek, a Syrophoenicianby race."[Mk. 7:25]The point
is not that she is a woman, but that she is not Jewish, but a Gentile. "Dogs"
was epithet of the day for Gentiles, and Jesus appears to be on the side of
Jewishcontempt for Gentiles. In both Mark and Matthew, non-Jews are
likened to "dogs," anda woman deeply concernedfor her daughter's
condition is brushed off until she herselfprevails in her discourse with Jesus.
As to the manner of Jesus with women, he did not substitute uncritical
deference for prejudice againstwomen. He related to women as persons with
words and dignity. In this story as elsewhere,Jesus is seenas capable of
manifesting a critical stance towardwoman, yet at the same time being
respectfulof her self-affirmation as she boldly counteredhis own
remarks.[1]:p.115
Why Jesus appearedharsh to a disadvantagedperson, and also seems to lose
the brief spirited and incisive dialog with her is still debated among
authorities. Severalinterpretations have been offered by theologians.
Evelyn and Frank Stagg suggestthree possibilities:
Jesus couldhave been instructing his disciples, first assuming a familiar
Jewishprejudice toward non-Jews, and then abandoning it as its unfairness
was exposed. The story may have served as an object lessonabout prejudice to
his disciples as a barrier is broken down betweenJews and Gentiles.
Jesus may have been testing the woman's faith. Jesus'parting word to her is
one of affirmation and acclaim. She passedhis test.
There may have been a deep struggle within Jesus as he dealt with the claims
of both Jew and Gentile. He had openness to Jews who were outside of
acceptedcircles (publicans, sinners, prostitutes). He also wentout of his way
to affirm Samaritans (for example, the womanat the well). As an ethnic
group, Samaritans had mutual animosity with the Jews. Itis clearthat Jesus
had to give himself unreservedly to Israel, and yet also to the rest of the world.
Jesus may have been having a deep, honeststruggle within himself over the
claims of two worlds upon him.[1]:pp.113–115
Gilbert Bilezekianbelieves Jesus'seeminglyindifferent attitude to the
woman's plea and the strange dialogue that followedshould not be interpreted
as reluctance on his part to minister either to Gentiles or to a woman. He
focuses onher faith, which Jesus laterdescribes as "great".[Matt. 15:28]
Wanting her to state her understanding of his ministry, he drew out her
convictions and provided an opportunity to teacha lessonof racial
inclusiveness to his "intolerant disciples". She expressedher faith that
Gentiles have a share in salvation, confessingthat his messiahship transcends
human segregationsofJew, Gentile, man or woman. She was his first convert
in the "Gentile world".[3]:pp.100–101
Mary and Martha
"Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" by Jan Vermeer, 1655.
Luke and John show that Jesus had a close relationshipwith the sisters Mary
and Martha who residedin Bethany.[1]They are featured in three major
stories:
A tension betweenthe two sisters over roles[Lk. 10:38–42)]
Grief at the death of their brother Lazarus, followedby his being raised,[Jn.
11:1–44]and
Martha serving and Mary anointing Jesus (explicitly in John 12:1–8);
presumably in Mark 14:3–9;Matthew 26:6–13). Seethe anointing in Bethany.
Kitchen and study
Luke 10:38-42
Luke relates an occasionoftension during one of Jesus'visits to the home of
Martha and Mary. While Martha prepared the meal, Mary satat the feet of
Jesus and "she was hearing his word."[Lk. 10:39] Martha became distracted
and frustrated over having to serve the meal without any help from her sister.
Finally she openly shared her feelings, stoodover Jesus who was either seated
or reclining, and complained: "She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you
care that my sisterhas left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
Jesus gently rebuked Martha for being so distractedand troubled over many
things, when only one thing was necessary. "Martha, Martha," the Lord
answered, "youare worried and upset about many things, but only one thing
is needed. Mary has chosenwhat is better, and it will not be takenawayfrom
her."[Lk. 10:41-42]
Mary's choice was not a conventionalone for Jewishwomen. She satat the
feet of Jesus and was listening to his teaching and religious instruction. Jewish
women were not permitted to touch the Scriptures; they were not taught the
Torah, although they were instructed in accordancewith it for the proper
regulation of their lives. A rabbi did not instruct a woman in the Torah. Mary
choose the "goodpart," but Jesus relatedit to her in a teacher-discipleship
relationship. He admitted her into "the study" and commended her for her
choice. In the tradition of that day, womenwere excluded from the altar-
oriented priestly ministry, and the exclusionencroachedupon the Word-
oriented ministry for women. Jesus reopenedthe Word-ministry for woman.
Mary was at leastone of his students in theology.
Jesus vindicated Mary's rights to be her own person—to be Mary and not
Martha. He showedhis approval of a woman's right to opt for the study and
not be compelled to be in the kitchen. Jesus establishedhis own priorities in
declaring, "Manshall not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding
out through the mouth of God.[Mt. 4:4] Martha needed to be reminded of the
priority of Word over bread. Luke's accountof Jesus at the home of Mary
and Martha puts Jesus solidlyon the side of the recognitionof the full
personhoodof woman, with the right to options for her ownlife. By socializing
with both sisters and in defending Mary's right to a role then commonly
denied to Jewishwomen, Jesus was following his far-reaching principle of
human liberation.[1]
The grieving sisters
John 11:1-44
One of Jesus'most famous miracles was raising Lazarus from four days in the
tomb. But it is also a striking reminder that while God works all things for the
best, He doesn't always do it according to the schedules we expect.[20]
Jesus'followers hadgiven up hope after Lazarus' death, but Jesus had a plan
to glorify God and heal Lazarus in a more spectacularwaythan anyone
expected. The centralfigure, however, is Jesus, identified as "the resurrection
and the life." When the brother of Mary and Martha became ill, they sentfor
Jesus. Forsome undisclosedreason, Jesus did not arrive until four days after
Lazarus died. The grieving sisters, Martha first and then Mary, met Jesus.
Jesus raisedLazarus from the dead and then proclaimed himself as "the
resurrectionand the life." Martha gently reproachedJesus, "Lord, had you
been here, my brother would not have died." She hastenedto express full
confidence that Godwould grant whateverJesus askedhim to grant. Martha
reflecteda spiritual understanding beyond that required for preparing and
serving a meal.[Jn. 11:21–27]
Apparently, Martha and not just Mary had benefited from the study. Mary
stayed in the house until Jesus calledfor her. When Martha went to gether,
Mary came quickly fell at Jesus'feet(Mary is at the feetof Jesus in every
appearance recordedin John's gospel). She repeatedthe words Martha
already had used: "Lord, had you been here my brother would not have
died." Jesus was deeplymoved upon seeing Mary and her friends weeping.
They invited Jesus to come and see the tomb where Lazarus had been laid.
Jesus burst into tears. The Jews standing by understood this as reflecting
Jesus's love for Lazarus, "see how he loved him" (v. 36). The foursome of
Jesus, Mary, Lazarus, and Martha had a close relationshipas persons, with
neither denial of gender differences nor preoccupationwith it. Here were
persons of both genders whose mutual respect, friendship and love carried
them through experiences oftension, grief, and joy. Apparently Jesus was
secure enoughto develop such a relationship with two sisters and their
brother without fear for his reputation. When necessary, he could oppose
them without fear of chauvinism. Jesus had much to do with the liberation
and growth of Martha and Mary.[1]
In the accountof the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn:
Martha followedby Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he
arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. As one commentatornotes,
"Martha, the more aggressive sister, wentto meet Jesus, while quiet and
contemplative Mary stayedhome. This portrayal of the sisters agreeswith
that found in Luke 10:38-42."[21]WhenMary meets Jesus, she falls at his
feet. In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time
to prevent their brother's death: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother
would not have died."[Jn. 11:21,32]Butwhere Jesus'response to Martha is
one of teaching calling her to hope and faith, his response to Mary is more
emotional: "When Jesus saw herweeping, and the Jews who had come along
with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.[Jn. 11:33]
As the 17th-century British commentator Matthew Henry notes, "Mary
added no more, as Martha did; but it appears, by what follows, that what she
fell short in words she made up in tears;she said less than Martha, but wept
more."[22]
Women who anointed Jesus
Main article: Anointing of Jesus
The Gospels presenttwo stories of Jesus being anointed by a woman: (1) three
accounts ofhis being anointed in Bethany, only John's accountidentifying
Mary with the anointing; and (2) one accountof Jesus being anointed by a
sinful woman who definitely was neither Mary (of Mary and Martha) nor
Mary Magdalene.[23]
The EasternOrthodox Church views Mary Magdalene,Maryof Bethany, and
the "sinful woman" as three different individuals, and also maintains that
Jesus was anointedon two different occasions:once by Mary of Bethany and
once by the "sinful woman."
The anointing in Bethany
Main article: Anointing of Jesus
Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8
Jesus is quoted in Matthew as assuring that the story of a woman's sacrificial
love and devotion to him will have a place in the gospelwhereverpreached.
Mary probably anticipatedJesus'death, but that is not certain. At leasther
beautiful deed gave Jesus neededsupport as he approachedhis awaitedhour.
Eachof the two sisters Maryand Martha had their own way of ministering to
Jesus:Martha, perhaps being more practical, served him a meal; Mary
lavishly anointed him.
A narrative in which Mary of Bethany plays a central role (in at leastone of
the accounts)is the event reported by the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospelof
John in which a woman pours the entire contents of an alabastronof very
expensive perfume overthe head of Jesus. Only in the John accountis the
woman identified as Mary, with the earlierreference in Jn. 11:1-2 establishing
her as the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The woman's name in not given in
the Gospels ofMatthew[26:6-13]andMark.[14:3-9]According to Mark's
account, the perfume was the purest of spikenard. Some of the onlookersare
angeredbecause this expensive perfume could have been sold for a year's
wages,whichMark enumerates as 300 denarii, and the money given to the
poor.
The Gospelof Matthew states that the "disciples were indignant" and John's
gospelstates that it was Judas who was mostoffended (which is explained by
the narrator as being because Judas was a thief and desired the money for
himself). In the accounts, Jesus justifies Mary's action by stating that they
would always have the poor among them and would be able to help them
wheneverthey desired, but that he would not always be with them. He says
that her anointing was done to prepare him for his burial. "Maryseems to
have been the only one who was sensitive to the impending death of Jesus and
who was willing to give a material expressionof her esteemfor him. Jesus'
reply shows his appreciationof her act of devotion."[21]
Easton(1897)noted that it would appearfrom the circumstances that the
family of Lazarus possesseda family vault[Jn. 11:38] and that a large number
of Jews from Jerusalemcame to console them on the death of Lazarus,[11:19]
that this family at Bethany belonged to the wealthier class ofthe people. This
may help explain how Mary of Bethany could afford to possessquantities of
expensive perfume.[24]
The anointing by a repentant sinner
Main article: Parable of the Two Debtors
Luke 7:36-50
In the Gospelof Luke, Jesus is an invited guestin the home of Simon the
Pharisee. All at the table were men. During the meal a woman known as "a
sinner" entered the room and anointed Jesus'feetwith her tears and with
some ointment. Her tears fell upon his feet and she wiped them with her hair.
The Bible does not saywhether she had encounteredJesus in person prior to
this. Neither does the Bible disclose the nature of her sin. Women of the time
had few options to support themselves financially; thus, her sin may have been
prostitution. Had she been an adulteress, she would have been stoned.
When Jesus permitted her to express her love and appreciationto him as she
did, the host rejectedit contemptuously. At a minimum, this story shows the
manner of Jesus with one sinful woman. His unconditional love for both saints
and sinners may have been so well knownthat this woman had the courage to
take this greatrisk to publicly express her love for him for seeing her not as a
sex objectto be exploited, but as a person of worth.
Women who ministered with Jesus
Luke 8:1–3
Luke's gospelis unique in documenting that there were many women who
benefited personally from Jesus'ministry, but who also ministered to him and
with him—even to the point of accompanying him and the Twelve on
evangelistic journeys. Mostprominent among these is Mary Magdalene.[1]
Luke 8:1–3 in the Greek text is one long sentence. Its three main focalpoints
are Jesus, the Twelve, and certain women. Jesus is traveling through cities
and towns, preaching the Kingdom of God, evangelizing, and accompaniedby
the Twelve. Otherthan mentioning that the Twelve were with him, nothing
more is said of them here.
The chief motive of the paragraph seems to be to bring into focus certain
women, of whom there were "many". This passagepresents them as
recipients of healing at different levels of need, and also as actively
participating with Jesus and the Twelve, accompanying them in their travels.
Luke makes specialreference to the financial support of these women to
Jesus'ministry. He says there were many women. He points out that these
included women who were prominent in the public life of the state as well as
in the church.
Luke's accountspecifies two categoriesofhealing: evil spirits and infirmities.
Jesus liberatedand humanized people who otherwise were being enslavedor
destroyedby forces within themselves and in society. Jesushealedmany
women of "evil spirits and infirmities". Only of Mary Magdalene does Luke
provide any detail of her healing, stating that "sevendemons" had been cast
out. Presumably these "many" womenhad been healed of various illnesses—
physical, emotional, and mental. No specific data is provided on Mary
Magdalene's "sevendemons". It is significant that womenwhose conditions
subjectedthem to scornand penalty found in Jesus a Liberator who not only
enabled them to find health, but who dignified them as full persons by
accepting their own ministries to himself and to the Twelve.[1]
Thus, it is significant that women had such an open and prominent part in the
ministry of Jesus. Luke's word for their "ministering" is widely used in the
New Testament. Its noun cognate, diakonos, is variously translated
"minister," "servant," and "deacon" (the latter for Phoebe in Romans 16:1
and in the pastoralletters).
In summary, Jesus attractedto his movement a large number of women,
ranging from some in desperate need to some in official circles of
government.[1]
Jesus on family relationships
Jesus ate with a Pharisee leaderone evening. After instructing his host to
include the most disadvantagedin his feasts, Jesus gavea parable of the many
personalreasons why guests might refuse an invitation, including marriage
and recentfinancial acquisitions.[Lk. 14:18–20]Jesus then addressesa great
multitude and says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and
mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, evenlife itself—sucha
person cannotbe my disciple."[Lk. 14:26]
Various expositors suggestthat "hate" is an example of comparative
hyperbolic biblical language, prominent in some Easterncultures even today,
to imply "love less than you give me," "comparedto Christ,"[25]the Semitic
idea of "lowerpreference," a callto count the costof following Jesus.[26]
When Jesus was told that his mother and brothers waited for him outside and
wanted to speak to him, Jesus createda novel definition of family. He saidto
the people who were gatheredto hear him speak, "Who is my mother? and
who are my brethren? And he stretchedforth his hand toward his disciples,
and said, 'Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoevershalldo the
will of my Fatherwhich is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and
mother.'"[Mt. 12:48–50]
Twelve and no women (and no Gentiles)
There were no women among the Twelve, and neither were there any
Gentiles. All four listings in the New Testamentof the names of the Twelve
indicate that all of the Twelve were Jewishmales:
Matthew 10:1–4
Mark 3:13–19
Luke 6:12–16
Acts 1:13
The names vary in the four lists, but their male identity is clearand is often
cited as biblical evidence that pastors should all be male. The New Testament
gives no clear answerwhy the example of Jesus in choosing his apostles is not
a complete overcoming of male bias.[1]
Severalconsiderations may be placedalongside this one. Jesus advanced
various principles that went beyond their immediate implementation. For
example, he clearly repudiated the Jew-Samaritanantipathy, affirming not
only his own Jewishkin but also the Samaritan. Yet, there are no Samaritans
among the Twelve. Jesus affirmed both women and Samaritans as persons
having the fullest right to identity, freedom, and responsibility, but for some
undisclosedreasonhe included neither women nor Gentiles in his close circle
of the Twelve.[1]
Perhaps custom here was so entrenched that Jesus simply stopped short of
fully implementing a principle that he made explicit and emphatic: "Whoever
does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother."[Mk. 3:35]
By selecting 12 Jewishmales, Jesus may have been offering a parallel to the 12
patriarchs or 12 tribes of Israel, eachheaded by a son of Jacob.[1]
Another possible explanation surrounds the purpose stated for his choosing
the Twelve:"...sothat they might be with him."[Mk. 3:14] They were his
constantcompanions day and night—exceptwhen he sent them out to preach.
It was the custom for Jewishrabbis to have such an entourage ofdisciples.
"Suchclose and sustained associationwith a member of the opposite sex
would have given rise to defamatory rumor."[4]:p.174
Howeverthe restrictionof the Twelve to Jewishmen is to be accountedfor,
Jesus did introduce far-reaching principles which bore fruit even in a former
rabbi, the Apostle Paul, who at leastin vision could say, "There is not any Jew
nor Greek, notany slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all
one in Christ Jesus."[Gal. 3:28]Further, the inclusion of "many" women in
the traveling company of Jesus represents a decisive move in the formation of
a new community. The Twelve are all men and also are all Jews, but even at
this point women "minister" to them. Unless one would argue that "apostolic
succession"(howeveradapted) is for Jews only, it cannot be argued that only
men can become members of the clergy.[1]
The Staggs'believe a likely explanation to be that Jesus beganwhere he was,
within the structures of Judaism as he knew it in his upbringing. His closest
companions initially may have been Jews, men, and men of about his own age.
He began there, but he did not stop there. Even in the early stagesofhis
mission, womenwere becoming deeply involved at the power centerof Jesus'
movement.[1]
3 Keys of Jesus’Teachings in Interacting With Others
December18, 2017 Leave a comment
By Hanxiao
In this complex society, we have to deal with all kinds of people every day.
Eachperson’s personality, hobbies, habits, temperament, etc. are all different,
so in our interactions some conflicts and misunderstandings will inevitably
arise. Getting along well with others is not easy—this brings greatdifficulties
to our work and life, and can be physically or mentally damaging to various
degrees. Thoughthis is very distressing for many people, they also feellike
their hands are tied, and there are quite a few Christians who are no
exception. So what exactlyshould we do to achieve harmony in our
interactions? Here we will share simple fellowship on three principles. If our
practice is in line with these three principles below, these headache-inducing
interpersonal issues will surely be resolved.
holding hands
The first principle of getting along with others is to love eachother. The Lord
Jesus taught us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as
yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). It is recordedin Matthew 18:21–22, “Then
came Peterto Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin againstme,
and I forgive him? till seventimes? Jesus saidto him, I say not to you, Until
seventimes: but, Until seventy times seven.” From these verses we cansee that
the Lord requires us to love eachother, have a forgiving heart, and be
tolerant of others’ mistakes. Since we’re all of different ages, ofdifferent
calibers, we have different hobbies and backgrounds, plus we all have some
weaknessesand shortcomings, if the foundation of our interpersonal
relationships is built upon mutual love and we considerthings from others’
perspectives, we will encounter fewerconflicts and misunderstandings and
will be able to get along well with others. Some people have love for others
and a compassionate heart;they love to help others and are able to comfort
those who are suffering and experiencing hardships. People like this please
God and others are fond of them as well. However, those who lack love for
others and always think of their own interests cannot possibly get along well
with others. Even if they do have love for others, it is temporary and
conditional, and they only help and are tolerant of those who are kind to them
and have never hurt them. Once someone hurts them or infringes upon their
interests, though they may appear tolerant on the outside, in their heart they
are filled with dissatisfactionand hatred. They can’t practice the Lord’s way.
They are detestedby God and disliked by people. Therefore we should
practice the Lord’s words in our interactions, and love others as we love
ourselves, as the Lord requires; only then will we be able to interact
harmoniously with others. But perhaps there will still be times we’re unable to
willingly be tolerantof, patient with, and forgiving of others. What’s required
of us in this sortof situation is to pray more to the Lord and ask Him to give
us a heart of genuine tolerance and love for others. When we truly rely on the
Lord to practice tolerance and patience, our prejudices and dissatisfactions
with others in our hearts will gradually disappear. However, there are also
principles for loving others as we love ourselves. God does not want us to love
others blindly. It’s just like how the Lord Jesus was full of mercy and love
toward His believers and followers, while He was full of condemnationand
curses for those hypocritical Pharisees who opposedGod. The Lord’s
different attitudes toward these two kinds of people embody God’s righteous
disposition. Therefore, we should treat brothers and sisters who truly believe
in God and practice the Lord’s words with great sincerity; we should be
loving and helpful. As for Satan’s forces that oppose and condemn God, we
should draw clearboundaries and clearlydistinguish betweenlove and hate.
talking
The secondprinciple is to treat others properly. The Lord Jesus said, “And
why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but considernot the
beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me
pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first castout the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you
see clearlyto castout the mote out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3–5).
When we are in conflictwith others, we always feelthat the other personis
wrong or the problem is with them. In fact, at these times we are living within
our satanic dispositionof arrogance and self-righteousness;we’re being
entirely self-centeredand looking down on others. We’re unable to treat
others objectively and fairly. This is why we should first resolve our own
corrupt dispositions, reflecton and know our own shortcomings and
deficiencies, andseek the truth that we should enter into; only then can we
treat others properly. If we always fixate our gaze on others’shortcomings,
we will never be able to getalong wellwith anyone. For example, we tend to
see our family members’ shortcomings when we spend time with them; we feel
like our spouse doesn’t know how to take care of others, they are
inconsiderate, the food they make isn’t to our taste, our child is
temperamental and hard to discipline, and so on; when we are with our
colleaguesandfriends, we find that one of our colleaguesis selfish, another
one tends to judge others behind their backs, orsome friend likes to take
advantage of others, etc. This is often distressing for us because we do not
know how to get along with them. In fact, regardless ofwhetherothers’
personality and behaviors are compatible with our preferences ornot, we
should not be prejudiced againstthem and just treat them howeverwe like.
We are all people who have been corrupted by Satan; we ourselves possess
quite a few problems just as others do, so how are we qualified in any way to
make demands of others? Additionally, Godhas bestoweddifferent strengths
and advantages upon every one of us in the hope that we can absorb the
strengths of others to make up for our shortcomings. Only by doing so can we
progress more quickly. Once we have this kind of understanding, when others
do something that we do not like, we can deny ourselves, not ask too much of
others, and not force what we think is right on others. Instead, we can
consciouslydiscoverothers’strengths and absorbtheir positive qualities—this
is how we can treat others properly. Furthermore, in our actions we should
not only think of ourselves, but we should also be considerate towardothers,
learn to care for others more often, and let others benefit. Only then can we
get along well with others.
love others
The third principle of harmonious interactionwith others is to not focus on
life philosophies, but instead, focus on establishing a proper relationship with
God. In real life, we often use satanic philosophies of life to maintain our
relationships with others, such as, “Think before you speak and then talk with
reservation,” “One more friend means one more path; one more enemy means
one more obstacle,”“Keeping silenton the faults of goodfriends makes for a
long and goodfriendship,” and so on. When we base our interactions with
others on these life philosophies, we curry favor and engage in flattery with
others so that we can maintain a goodrelationship with them. We only talk
about their goodpoints and dare not point out their shortcomings;we protect
our interpersonalrelationships even if it means going againstthe principles of
the truth. The Lord detests this kind of behavior, because whatwe exalt are
Satan’s philosophies, not the Lord’s words. What the Lord requires of us is
the ability to have a proper relationship with Him and do everything in
accordancewith His words, such as being honest people in line with His
requirements, and not saying anything false in our interactions or ingratiating
ourselves with others. He also requires that when we see brothers and sisters
do things that are not in line with or violate the Lord’s teachings, we should
help them out of love; we should not be afraid to offend them but instead
point out their mistakes and help them resolve their problems. In short, all of
our interactions should be establishedon the foundation of the Lord’s
teachings. We should put into practice whateverthe Lord requires of us. No
matter who we are interacting with, we must be able to directly face the Lord
and acceptHis scrutiny. Only with this kind of practice canwe have a proper
relationship with the Lord. Once we have a proper relationship with the Lord,
our relationships with other people will become proper as well, and then we’ll
get along harmoniously with others very naturally.
Above are the three principles of practice regarding harmonious interactions
with others that we as Christians should enter into. If we are able to
frequently put these three principles into practice, many of our difficulties
with others will be easily resolved, what we live out will gain the Lord’s
praise, and we will become people who bring joy to the Lord.
Jesus'Surprising Interactions With Other Religions
MARCH 29, 2017
Photo by suc / pixabay.com
By Jim Baton
Ding-dong. As I head for the door, my daughter screams. "Dad!Do not open
that door!"
I turn to find my daughter peeking out the window. "Why not?" I ask.
"It's those people again. You know, the ties, the bikes…whydo they have to
bother us?"
Think about the last interaction you had with someone from a different
religion—maybe the Jehovah's Witness that knockedon your door, the
Muslim woman watching her kids play at the park, or the New Ager who tried
to sell you healing crystals. Did you approach the interaction with any
particular goalin mind? Were you successfulin meeting that goal, or not?
Think about the last interaction you had with someone from a different
religion. Did you approachthe interaction with any particular goalin mind?
Were you successfulin meeting that goal, or not?
I can recallmany instances in my life when I workedup the courage to talk to
someone from another religion, with the goalof helping them see the Truth.
More often than not, the conversationended with me failing at my goaland
very little chance that either of us would want to meet again.
Jesus didn't leave that kind of bad taste in people's mouths, probably because
he approachedthose of other religions very differently than we do.
Though most of Jesus'ministry occurredin a small region of the world to a
largely homogenous Jewishsociety, he still found opportunities to interact
with those of foreign backgrounds, who probably carried either partially or
fully their traditional religions with them. Jesus spoke withRomans, who
came from a polytheistic background; with Syrians and Canaanites,
traditionally worshippers of idols including Baaland Ashtoreth; and with
Samaritans, whose religionwas similar to the Jews in that they followedthe
Torahand believed in a coming Messiah, but had differences in how they
worshiped and lookedto Mount Gerizim as their holiest site. (The Samaritan
religion is still around today.)
The Gospels recordJesus'interactions with specific foreigners suchas the
Roman Centurion with a sick servant (Luke 7); the Roman governorPilate
(John 18-19);the Canaanite womanwith a sick daughter (Matthew 15);the
Samaritan leper grateful for his healing (Luke 17); the sinful Samaritan
woman at the well(John 4); the allegoricalGoodSamaritan(Luke 10); and
many unnamed sick and demonized from the regions of Syria and the
Decapolis who were mostlikely not Jewish(Matthew 4 & 8; Mark 3 & 7). In
all these interactions we find Jesus'approachto be surprisingly different from
how he approachedthe Pharisees orhis own disciples.
Surely Jesus woulddesire that all of these foreigners leave their false religions
and embrace the truth. So how did he approachthem? Reading eachof the
passagesmentioned above would be highly instructional for those of us who
claim to follow Jesus. Here's my summary of how Jesus interactedwith those
of other religions:
What Jesus DID:
– healed the sick
– delivered the demonically oppressed
– told people to tell others what God had done for them
– praised people for their greatfaith
– praised people as examples of what God wants
– announced they would feastin heaven with the earlierprophets.
Only when he was askeddid Jesus revealhimself as Messiah(John4) and
King (John 18).
What Jesus DIDN'T do:
– follow his own Jewishculture's prejudicial norms
– condemn or rebuke
– warn of judgment or hell
– argue theology, debate, quote the Scriptures, ask if people wanted to know
the Gospel, orask people to change anything.
Think about that for a moment. Jesus didn't try to convince people to believe
anything new, change any behavior, or join his group. He simply loved them,
praised the goodin them, and only answeredthe questions they were actually
asking.
A survey conductedin January 2017 by the Pew ResearchCenterprovides
insight into how Americans currently feel about different religious groups.
Two results from this survey are particularly apropos:
1. The young generation(age 18-29)feelmore warmly towardBuddhists
(+66), Hindus and Catholics (+64), and Jews (+62)than they do toward
EvangelicalChristians (+59). EvangelicalChristians in factrank closerto
Atheists (+59)and Muslims (+58).
2. Although Republicans have the warmestfeelings for EvangelicalChristians
(+71), Democrats put EvangelicalChristians near the bottom of the list with
Mormons (+53 & +52 respectively), far behind Jews (+66), Catholics and
Buddhists (+64), Hindus (+61), Atheists (+57)and even Muslims (+56).
The study also found that Americans tend to feel most warmly towardthose
who are like themselves. No wonder Republicans and the elderly like
evangelicals—they're showing a preference for their own group. But for the
many out there who do NOT identify as evangelicals—whetherthey're from
the young generation, the Democratic Party, or another religious group—
their feelings toward evangelicalsare not so warm. In fact, according to
author JosephMattera, many American Muslims "believe Christians hate
them."
How can we change this negative perception? By changing the dynamics of
our interactions. We need to leave behind some of the agenda-baseddialogue
and argumentative approaches thathave neither achievedour goals of
convincing others to change nor reflectedthe heart of our Savior. It's time we
got back to doing what Jesus did—loving, healing, praising, and responding to
what is truly on people's hearts.
We shouldn't do these things so that people from other backgrounds will like
us, or even so they will convert—we should do them because we claimto
follow Jesus. The more we become like him, the more magnetically people will
be drawn to us, and discoverfor themselves that Jesus is "full of grace and
truth" (John 1:14).
Jim Baton's 20 years living in a Muslim nation have birthed a series ofnovels
that are transforming people's perceptions on Muslims and how God would
have us relate to them in love. His most recent novel, A Violent Light, was
releasedin December2016.
6 PEOPLE JESUS INCLUDED (WHO EVERYONE ELSE EXCLUDED)
Learn selfless compassionfrom Christ’s example
October24th, 2014
Jennica Stevens
Almost every kid has a memory of being excluded on the playground. I do. I
was in the third grade when suddenly the popular girls decided that I couldn’t
play with them. The insult stung longer than the few days they left me out of
their activities.
But exclusiondoesn’t stop as children grow into adults. From work cliques to
Facebook jibes, people of all ages exclude others from acceptance,love and
affection, often for no discernible reason.
But Jesus was different. He went out of his way to extend love where it wasn’t
expected—to society’s outcasts.He included the excluded. And we canall
learn from his example in the following passages.
Jesus caredfor children.
Jesus’s disciples were annoyedby the children that people brought to Jesus.
Perhaps they thought the squirming, noisy kids weren’t as important as the
adults Jesus was teaching. But Jesus told his disciples that the children could
stay and that “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Readthe story in Matthew 19:13-15
Jesus talkedto a “sinful woman.”
Although the text does not elaborate on the woman’s sin was, it must have
been public enoughfor the Pharisee whose house Jesus was dining at to know.
When Jesus came to eat with the Pharisee, this womanbegan washing Jesus’s
feet with a jar of perfume. The Pharisee was appalledthat Jesus would let her
touch his feet. But Jesus told the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Readthe story in Luke 7:36-50
Jesus ate with a tax collector.
Tax collectorshave never been popular, and the first century was no
exception. So when Jesus wentto Levi’s house to eat, and he ate with tax
collectors,it causedquite a stir. It didn’t phase Jesus, though. His response?
"I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
Readthe story in Mark 2:13-17
Jesus toucheda bleeding woman.
In the Jewishtradition, the bleeding woman would have been unclean. Since
she had been bleeding for twelve years, she would have been regardedas
unclean. Yet when Jesus noticedthat this unclean woman touched his robe, he
responded with kindness rather than derision.
Readthe story in Mark 5:25-34
Jesus spoke to a demon possessedman.
Nobody knew what to do with the demon possessedman who wondered along
the Lake of Galilee. People had tried to chain him, but it didn’t work. Jesus
spoke to him, castout the demon and told him, "Go back home to your family
and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been
to you.”
Readthe story in Mark 5:1-20
Jesus drank waterfrom the womanat the well.
In the time of Jesus, JewsavoidedSamaritans. In fact, they didn’t even use
the same utensils. That’s why it was a big deal when Jesus did not ignore the
Samaritan womanat the well. He engagedher in conversation, usedher cup
to drink waterand offeredhimself as living water.
Readthe story in John 4:1-41
5 Ways Jesus DealtWith Difficult People
PRODIGALSON
Domaine Public
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Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble | Jun 24, 2020
Jesus askedquestions, was not defensive, and knew when to ignore something.
How should we deal with difficult people? Some people in our lives may be
difficult simply because theychallenge us. Or they may be difficult because
they are different. Or they may be difficult because we live with them (and
close proximity amplifies foibles). Or they may be difficult because we are
difficult and something about us just rubs them the wrong way.
Or they may just be difficult.
Regardless, we canlearn to acceptthe inconvenient, the incongruent and the
bothersome (people and events)in our life not just as necessarynuisances but
as gifts.
Readmore:
How to deal with “toxic” people, charitably and successfully, in 3 steps
Heather King writes:
[W]hen we are open and receptive to all the world has to offer, and all the
world has to teachus, then everything becomes illuminated from within.Then
we see that everything is, or canbe, connectedto our quest for beauty and
order. Everything “belongs”:old dolls, decrepit diaries, discarded buttons.
Difficult people.
Seeing difficult people in such a positive light seems like a tall order. But we
can start by learning to deal with other people in a Christ-like way. Scripture
teaches us some ways that Jesus dealtwith difficult people:
1.- Jesus asksquestions.
In Chapter 12 of Luke, Jesus is askedto settle a family dispute and basically
responds, “Who do you think I am, Judge Judy?” (right, this is a pretty loose
translation, but you getthe idea). It is interesting to note that Jesus asksa lot
of questions in Scripture. Jesus’questions were sometimes rhetorical, or
challenging, and at other times he was also seeking feedback. Byusing
questions, Jesus emphasizes his openness to the other person.
It is funny, but we humans tend not to ask a lot of questions. We assume, we
pontificate, we lecture, we observe, we interrupt and we judge. But we rarely
make it a point to ask other people questions. In using questions frequently, I
think Jesus is modeling the behavior of a goodcommunicator, one who cares
about the other person enough to engage withthem and challenge them. Even,
and perhaps especially, whenthey are being difficult.
2.-Jesus Is NeverCornered.
In Chapter 6 of Luke, Jesus is taking a Sabbath stroll with his disciples and
the Phariseespop up out of nowhere and accuse them of breaking the Sabbath
by picking grain. Jesus is unflustered. He is never scaredof the people who try
to slip him up or think the worst of him, because whatother people think is
not his focus.
Sometimes people corner us with their assumptions and judgments and we
can begin to wonder if the waythey see us is more objective than how we see
ourselves. It is hard when we feel like others misunderstand us or do not take
the time to getto know us before judging. But, like Jesus, we do not have to
feel defined by the projections of other people. Our identity resides and is
found in God, not in what other people try to push on us.
3.- Jesus Knows When to Ignore.
Remember that time when Jesus ticks offall of his former neighbors and
friends in his hometown of Nazareth? They are so workedup that they decide
to throw him off a cliff. Jesus, seeing thatthere is no reasoning with these
people, walks through the crowd, ignores their rage, and “went on his way”
(Luke 4).
Sometimes difficult people throw tantrums, speak harshly or treat us in an
abusive way (this happens online all the time). This is the cue to disengage and
walk away. Jesus knew how to keephis blood pressure in check and his eyes
on the prize. Of course, if we have to deal assertivelywith someone who does
this in person, a face-to-face discussionmight help. Later.
4.- Jesus Is Not Defensive.
In Chapter 10 of Mark, James and John basicallysay to Jesus:“We want you
to do for us whatever we ask.” Wow. Talk aboutoverstepping boundaries!
But Jesus is not codependent, so neediness and boundary crossing is not
threatening to him. He knows when to say no and when to say yes and does
not beat himself up when he doesn’t make other people happy.
Sometimes people can demand more from us than what we can give them.
They may try to swayus with guilt trips. Before we know it we find ourselves
bending over backwardtrying to satisfy a needy or aggressive person(who is
rarely satisfied!). But Jesus does not try to people please. Jesus does notneed
to protect himself from other people; God’s will is enough security. This is
where his non-defensiveness comes from.
5.- Jesus Is Flexible.
In Matthew 15, a Canaanite womandemands that Jesus healhis daughter and
Jesus says no. But then he is moved by the woman’s response of faith and
heals her daughter. Jesus approachesothers with an open mind. Even when
he had preconceivednotions, he allowedthe Spirit to move him.
When a difficult person approaches us, we may think, Oh great, here we go
again, or I know how this will go, but Jesus kept an open mind when he was
approachedby others. You never know. The Spirit may move you, or the
person who is normally difficult, to actin a different, unexpected way. Being
closedto others closes us to the Holy Spirit who is working in us and in the
other person.
Jesus, help me see you in everyone, even the people who challenge me. Light
me up with your radiant love so that I may see you even in the most difficult
of people. Every human being is made in your image. Help me to recognize
you and love you in them.
SisterTheresa Aletheia Noble, FSP,is the author of The ProdigalYou Love:
Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church.
Jesus, Religion, andPolitics
Discovering Jesus:Part2
Jirair Tashjian
Introduction
In Part 1 we beganlooking at Jesus of Nazareth, with an emphasis on the
human Jesus. We concludedwith his baptism by John and consideredthe
possibility that Jesus at one point may have been a disciple of John. Then we
lookedat the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness and the meaning of those
temptations.
The lasttemptation in Matthew (in Luke the secondand third temptations are
in reverse order) tells us how the devil showedJesus all the kingdoms of the
world and their splendor and said to him, "All these I’ll give you if you’ll fall
down and worship me" (Matt 4:9). This provides us an opportunity to
explore another dimension of the temptations in relation to the humanity of
Jesus. We are told that in this lasttemptation the devil had takenJesus to "a
very high mountain and showedhim all the kingdoms of the world and their
splendor" (Matt 4:8). What does that mean? There is no mountain high
enough in Palestine, oranywhere in the world for that matter, where a person
can literally see allthe kingdoms of the world. How can one see Rome and
Athens and Damascus and Egypt from a mountain in Palestine?
That simply suggeststhat we need to considerthe conceptof mountain in
Matthew in terms of what the Gospelwriter wanted to sayrather than how
we might want to hear it. Matthew, in fact, is fond of mountains. In Hebrew
thinking mountains are the place where significantthings happen. God gave
the Law to Moses onMount Sinai (Exod 19-20). Elijahhad a confrontation
with the prophets of Baalon Mount Carmel where God came (1 Kings 18). In
Matthew we see Jesus going up on a mountain and teaching the Sermon on
the Mount to bring fulfillment to the Law given at Mount Sinai (Matt 5:1 ff).
In the final chapter of Matthew (28) after his resurrection, Jesus meets with
his disciples on a mountain in Galilee and commissions them to go and make
disciples of all nations.
All that to saythis, that the word "mountain" in Matthew is intended to be
takennot in a strict literal sense but in a metaphoricalsense. Matthew is using
the conceptof mountain from its history in Old Testamentnarratives as a way
to focus attention on the significance ofthe temptation narrative in
understanding Jesus. Thatsuggeststhat the entire story of the temptations of
Jesus in Matthew 4 is to be taken figuratively. It is not that the temptations
are not "real," only that the way Matthew tells them to us in the Gospel
accountis couchedin metaphor. Jesus was not literally whiskedaround from
the top of the temple to the top of some mountain. Jesus was tempted the way
you and I are tempted, that is, in our minds and hearts rather than by a
physically visible form of the devil transporting Jesus from place to place in
some sort of a Star Trek beam-up and beam-down. The physical descriptions
are the way Matthew tells us about the internal struggle that Jesus was going
through in the temptations.
In a sense, temptation is much more subtle and therefore a lot tougher to deal
with when it is something going on in our minds and thoughts than if there is
a physical being out there that we can see and identify as the devil. One of the
greatestfears of Vietnam veterans was that they could never be sure who the
enemy was. We could deal with the enemy if he were standing right there and
you could identify him. Then maybe we could punch him in the nose, or pull a
swordand split him in two. But if the enemy is not made up of a nose and a
face and two arms and two legs, how does one fight him?
We’ve probably all heard the expression, "Give the devil a black eye." While
it is nice sounding rhetoric, there are two things wrong with it. First, the devil
doesn’t have an eye that you can punch. Secondly, even if it’s taken
metaphorically, that kind of language is borrowed from the world of street
gangs and neighborhood bullies who go around punching people in the face.
Jesus did resisttemptation. But how? He resistedit with the word of God.
That doesn’t mean that he just quoted words from the Bible, but that he
shaped his whole life and mindset by the will of God revealedin Scripture.
Modern Conceptions ofPolitics
That third temptation is really where I want to focus this secondstudy. The
fact that Jesus was tempted with the kingdoms of the world and their splendor
implies that there are some political issues involved here. Jesus, of course, did
resistthat temptation, but that does not mean that his messagewas to be
purely spiritual with no political overtones. The messageofJesus was not
politically neutral.
Some of us may be uncomfortable to think of Jesus as being political. That’s
because the word "politics" or"political" has come to have very negative
overtones. It means wheeling and dealing, scheming, compromising,
insincerity, telling half-truths, fighting for power, jockeying for position,
slandering, mud-slinging, corruption, and on and on. Now, I know that not all
politicians are that way. Unfortunately, our experience of politics in many
instances has been negative. And if that is our definition of politics, then, no,
Jesus was not political. So I need to define what I mean when I saythe
messageofJesus was political.
But before I do that, let’s considersomething else. We as a church and as
Christians believe that our primary task is to preach the gospel, to lead people
into a mature relationship with God, and nurture them spiritually. We come
togetherto worship the Lord, study his Word, are inspired and uplifted, have
our spiritual needs met, have fellowshipwith one another, and occasionally, if
we become aware of it, help with the material needs of individuals in our
congregationor occasionallyoutside people.
Our job description as a church does not include the political process, whichis
the waya societyconducts its public affairs. In other words, we don’t feelthat
it’s our job as a church to do something about the world out there except to
get people converted to Christ. Such problems as socialinjustice,
discrimination, inner city problems, crime, poverty, and so on are left up to
politicians to solve. In fact, we shy away from such involvement because it
might move us in the direction of what we have identified as the socialgospel.
We think that perhaps individual Christians can getinvolved in politics to
help shape the world. Or, we as individual Christians can vote for certain
candidates and issues. Butusually we think that the church as a church must
remain politically neutral. So then, to say that the messageofJesus was
political, which means that Jesus was not politically neutral, may require
some explanation.
Politics in First-century Palestine
When I say that Jesus was notpolitically neutral, or that his messagewas
political, I am recognizing something that is at the heart of the biblical
messagein general, and especiallythe Old Testament, which was the Bible of
Jesus. The Old Testamentdid not separate religionand politics. The Bible
does not compartmentalize them. In fact, one of the most scathing
denunciations from the Old Testamentprophets was againstpeople who did
that very thing, separating religionand politics. I can give many examples
from Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micahand others (Amos 2:6-8; 5:21-24;7:10-13;
Isaiah1:11-17;Micah 6:6-8). But let me cite just one of the prophets (Amos
2:6-8 and 5:21-24):
Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions ofIsrael, and for four, I will not
revoke the punishment; because theysell the righteous for silver, and the
needy for a pair of sandals-theywho trample the head of the poor into the
dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and songo in to
the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down
beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God
they drink wine bought with fines they imposed.
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn
assemblies. Eventhough you offer me your burnt offerings and grain
offerings, I will not acceptthem; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted
animals I will not look upon. Take awayfrom me the noise of your songs;I
will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like
waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
The problem with Israelwas not that they were not religious enough. The
problem was that they were too religious, but did not translate their religiosity
into a socialpolicyof justice. Their religiosity did not make a difference in the
way they conductedtheir business, government, economic policies, and social
relationships, particularly when it came to the orphan and the widow, the
disadvantaged, the unfortunate. They took bribes, they imposed unfair fines,
they foreclosedon debts without mercy. Amos says that God will bring
judgment on the nation of Israelfor these injustices.
Jesus was saying the same thing: "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin--you practice your religion
very well--but you have neglectedthe weightiermatters of the law: justice and
mercy and faith" (Matt 23:23). When Jesus startedtalking about justice, he
was into politics. We can’t understand the Old Testamentor the messageof
Jesus unless we recognize the fact that the God of the Bible is very much
interestedin the kind of world we make for ourselves as human beings. God is
passionatelyconcernedaboutthe world here and now. God becomes agitated
when the poor, the orphan and the widow are oppressedand are treated
unjustly.
Let’s considerthe political situation of Palestine in the time of Jesus. Palestine
was under Roman occupationand domination. Rome neededa greatdeal of
revenue to carry on the affairs of the Empire. So the Romans had a policy of
heavy taxation, which was very oppressive. People losttheir land because they
could not pay taxes. Absentee landlords, people with a lot of capital, were able
to acquire more and more land and turned these small plots of land, land
upon which Palestine peasants dependedfor survival, into large operations
intended for the export industry. People who lost their land became day
laborers. It is in this context, for example, that Jesus told the parable of the
vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16). Whenthe landowner askedthe workers
in the market place why they had been standing idle all day, they responded
that no on had hired them. The picture is dismal. Lots of workers, but not
enough work to go around, therefore high unemployment. What were their
options? The only option was to beg, which was the final stage before
starvation and death.
MostJewishpeople in the time of Jesus, including the Pharisees, the Zealots
and the Essenes,had a very antagonistic attitude towardforeigners, especially
the Romans who had seized the land by force. What right did the Romans
have to take over their country? They, after all, were the people of God, and
God had given them the land. To make things even worse, the Roman
presence in Palestine did not benefit the Jewishpeople as a whole, and
certainly not the ordinary person. It did benefit those who were in positions of
political and economic power, rulers, governors, absentee landlords who
exploited the situation for their benefit. The Roman government recruited
Jewishpeople as tax collectors,and gave them the authority to collect
whateverthey could beyond what the Roman regime imposed. They could
then keepthe difference as income for themselves. Some ofthem, such as
Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2-10), became wealthy at the expense of their fellow Jews. It
is in such an environment that we must hear such statements of Jesus such as,
"Woe to you who are rich, woe to you who are full, woe to you who laugh, woe
to you when you are well spokenof" (Lk 6:24-26).
Some Jewishpeople were more bitter than others, but everyone felt the awful
injustice of it all. The Zealots were probably the most militant and aggressive,
advocating and practicing guerrilla warfare againstthe Romans from time to
time. But it would be wrong to think that only the Zealots were politically
inclined. As noted already, Jews did not separate religionfrom politics. And
neither did Jesus. He lookedat politics in a different way than the Zealots,
but Jesus was notpolitically neutral or unconcerned.
The Sadducees,on the other hand, were in a different situation than most
other Jewishpeople. They were in control of religious and political power in
Jerusalem. Theywere the priestly group at the temple. They did not like the
Romans, but they cooperatedwith the Romans because it meant that as long
as they were favorable towardRome, their position of controlof the temple
was secure. So the Sadducees became the aristocratic class. Johnthe Baptist
calledthe Sadducees andthe Pharisees,"Youbrood of vipers" (Matt 3:7).
The Sadducees controlledthe Sanhedrin, the highestcouncil of Judaism that
had powerto rule over religious as wellas civil cases. Jesus couldsee that
their religiosity made no difference as far as economic, socialand political
justice for the common folk. As long as they were secure in their position, why
should they be too concernedwith the peasants and the poor folk in the
country? So oppressioncame not only from the Romans. Even Jewish
religious leaders were guilty of oppression. And, Jesus wouldsay, even
religious leaders needed to repent.
The Politics of Jesus
Now let’s begin to look at the politics of Jesus more earnestly. A good place to
begin might be Luke 13:1. Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose
blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Apparently, some Galileans
had gone up to Jerusalemduring some feastand were offering sacrifices.
These were times of volatile nationalistic feelings that could be ignited easily.
Perhaps there was some sort of commotion and unrest. Pilate the governor
must have ordered his soldiers to move in immediately to calm the situation.
In doing so they must have massacredsome ofthe people. But notice how
Jesus respondedto that report. He didn’t lash out at Pilate. It was not that
Jesus thought Pilate was such a goodperson. Insteadof denouncing Pilate
Jesus saidto the people who reported this incident, "Do you think that
because these Galileans sufferedin this way they were worse sinners than all
other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as
they did." We can almosthear their unspoken objections: "Whatdo you
mean we repent? It’s Pilate and his whole Roman garrisonin Jerusalemthat
needs repentance!"
The politics of Jesus evenwent a step further. He said, "Love your enemies,
do goodto those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who
abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offerthe other also;if anyone
forces you to go one mile, go also the secondmile" (Matt 5:39-41). It is not
very difficult to put that in the context of Roman power in Palestine. Jesus
Jesus was interacting with people
Jesus was interacting with people
Jesus was interacting with people
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Jesus was interacting with people

  • 1. JESUS WAS INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE EDITED BY GLENN PEASE How Jesus Interacted With People Does evangelismmake you nervous? If so, it will help to study carefully how Jesus interactedwith people. Whom did He meet? How did He connectwith them? Where did the encounters take place? Who initiated contact? What happened in the conversation' Like Jesus’originalfollowers, believers today are sent into the world to be His witnesses (v. 48 [Luke 24]; compare Matt. 28:18-20;Acts 1:8). We can learn much about how to handle that assignmentby asking questions of the four narratives of Jesus’life—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They include more than 40 meetings betweenJesus and various individuals. Who started the conversation' In nine cases,Jesus initiatedthe conversations.Examples: a Samaritan woman(John 4:7-42) a crippled beggar(John 5:1-15) In 25 instances, it was the other party who started the discussion. Jesus responded to other people’s inquiries. Examples: a rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-30)
  • 2. a demoniac (Mark 5:1-20) Jairus, a synagogue ruler (Mark 5:21-43) a hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:24-34) Other conversations were triggeredby third parties. Examples: tax collectorsand other “sinners,” invited to a party by Matthew (Matt. 9:9- 13) Herod, introduced by Pilate (Luke 23:6-16) Nathaniel, invited by Philip (John 1:45-51) an adulterous woman brought by the scribes (John 8:1-11) Where did the conversationtake place' The majority of Jesus’interactions occurredin the workplace.Examples: with James and John (Matt. 4:21-22) with a Samaritan woman(John 4:7-42) with a lame man (John 5:1-15) Many took place in homes. Examples: at Peter’s house with his mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31) with a Syro-Phoenicianwoman(Mark u:24-30) at Zacchaeus’house (Luke 19:1-10) Few were in religious settings. Instead, Jesus talkedwith people about spiritual issues where they were most familiar. He did not need a special environment or controlover the circumstances to discuss things of eternal significance. What was discussed'
  • 3. Jesus askedquestions in more than half of the conversations He had. This is similar to God’s first response to the first sinners in history, when He asked four questions of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:9, 11, 13). Examples: an adulterous woman (John 8:1-11) the scribes (Luke 5:17-26) His mother and brothers (Matt. 12:46-50) the Pharisees(Luke 6:6-11) He connectedwith people’s thoughts and feelings. He understood that new ideas need to be connectedwith existing frames of reference if they are to last. He seldom pressedfor “closure”ora decision. Instead, He understood that time is required for ideas to simmer and for people to own them before they act on them. What can we learn from Jesus’example' Jesus knew how to take initiative. Jesus respondedto the initiatives of others. Jesus left room in his schedule for interruptions by friends and others enlisting his help. Jesus usually met people on their own turf. Jesus was interestedin establishing common ground with others. Witnessing is a science, anart, and a mystery. It involves connecting your faith with people’s experience in a way that they canunderstand it, in their own time and manner. It means cooperating with whateverGod’s Spirit may be doing with them and leaving the results to Him. The Word in Life Study Bible, New TestamentEdition, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville; 1993), pp. 318-319
  • 4. 25 WAYS JESUS INTERACTEDWITH PEOPLE Postedon July 23, 2014 by Mathew Gilbert 2 Votes Yelin-bergpredigt-ca1912Jesus interactedwith many different kinds of people from many different walks oflife in his three yearministry. He interacted with adults and children, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the religious and the irreligious, the healthy and the sick. In thinking through the best ways to do evangelismand ministry, looking to how Jesus relatedto the people he came to save is a great example for us to follow. Evangelisminvolves much more, though not less, than repeating a messageortelling a story. Evangelism involves interacting with various kinds of people in various kinds of situations. Everyone is not like us and effective evangelisminvolves getting to know people and dealing with them where they are. In order to become more effective evangelists in our community, Jesus, the evangelistpar excellence serves as an example of how we should interact with people for the sake ofthe gospel. I gatheredthe following list from a class I took at Boyce Collegethis summer lectured by Bruce Carlton. Here are 25 insights that we canglean from Jesus’interactions with various people in various situations. Jesus goeswhere people are. Jesus seespeople as people. Jesus treats all people as having needs regardless ofsocial, racial, oreconomic status. When there is an opportunity, Jesus seeks to respond immediately. Jesus is able to discern when people show spiritual interests.
  • 5. Jesus identifies genuine seekers andspends time with them personally. Jesus demonstrates to people that he cares aboutthem. Jesus is culturally sensitive. Jesus commends people for their positive qualities. Jesus listens to people’s stories. Jesus shows interests in what others are interested. Jesus communicates to people on their level. Jesus oftenasks probing questions. Jesus always has a positive attitude. Jesus appeals to Scripture. Jesus shares his own testimony. Jesus avoids arguing with people. Jesus confronts sin. Jesus presents the gospelclearly. Jesus always displays God’s grace. Jesus ministers to the whole person: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Jesus does not allow himself to become distractedfrom what he wants to communicate. Jesus always brings people to a point of making a decision. Jesus challengespeople to exercise faith. Jesus respects people’s freedom.
  • 6. JESUS’INTERACTION WITHPEOPLE Postedon August 18, 2009 by Scottunder devotional, Jesus, mission meditationFor those who have studied the Gospels and the life of Jesus, it is quite easilyrecognisable that He spent most of His time training up the twelve. Jesus knew the importance of pouring His life into a smaller group, which would then be able to impact thousands of people (as evidencedin the book of Acts). But, though Jesus spent time giving so much to the twelve, He also regularly interacted with the crowds. Why? Jesus was the great shepherd (John 10). He caredfor people because that is what shepherds do. One of the most detrimental things within church leadershipwould be those who are ‘untouchable’. One who calls himself or herself ‘pastor’ and yet is never accessible to the people, that person has failed to understand the shepherd heart of God. Though many might read the passagebelow as a specific messageabout evangelistic missions, it is possible that we need to rethink what this is communicating: 35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagoguesand proclaiming the gospelof the kingdom and healing every disease andevery affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassedand helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestlyto the Lord of the harvestto send out labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
  • 7. Now, there is no doubt this passage speaksinto the area of missions. But I believe it does so from an angle leastexpected – from Christ’s shepherding heart. In vs36, we see that Jesus is moved with compassionforthe people because they were ‘harassedand helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’. It is following such a statement that Jesus then states, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few;therefore pray earnestlyto the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’ So we are not only sent with goodnews to tell other people, but we are sent to care for those to whom we bring the message, forwe are a community of shepherds in Christ. We also see Jesus’shepherd heart in the specific ways He interacted with people. There are three main senses that Christ used regularly in His interaction: touch, sight and hearing. Jesus Was Willing to Touch People Jesus Was Willing to Look at People Jesus Was Willing to Listen to People REPORT THIS AD Jesus Was Willing to Touch People
  • 8. Here is a goodpassageto start with: 1 When he came down from the mountain, greatcrowds followedhim. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you canmake me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretchedout his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosywas cleansed. 4 And Jesus saidto him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4) In vs3, we read that Jesus stretchedout His hand and touched the leper. As most of us will know, the leper was a hopeless casein such a society. The Jews of the day had probably used the commands of Leviticus 13-14 to completely ostraciseanyone with a skin disease.Therefore, Jesus was stepping oversuch a formulated boundary to touch this ‘unclean’ man. When was the lasttime this man had been touched? Months, years, decades? This man truly needed to be touched by someone. And it is from this touch of Jesus that the healing power flowedinto the man’s body. We see a similar story in Mark 5:25-34 where a woman touches Jesus to receive healing from a 12-yearbleeding disorder. Jesus also showedHis love for children by extending a touch to them, holding them and blessing them, even in the midst of the selfishrebuke of the disciples.
  • 9. 13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I sayto you, whoeverdoes not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessedthem, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16) In all, as Jesus was, we must be accessible to people. We cannotbe standoffish, closedoff or even feel too important to interact with people. And we must even be willing to let people to have accessto us, even close access.This is part of the true shepherd heart of Jesus to reachhumanity. Jesus Was Willing to Look at People If you can, take a moment to read Mark 10:17-27. This rich man had fooledhimself to believe that he had done all that was needed to inherit eternallife. But he was lacking one thing. Now, Jesus couldhave been frustrated with the man and given him a strong rebuke. But we read these incredible words in vs21:‘And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…’ Eye contactshows interest, involvement and vulnerability, even communicating love. Now, the rich man could have avoided such eye contact, but, from these words, we againsee Jesus’willingness to closelyinteract with humanity. And only after looking at Him did Jesus say, ‘You lack one thing.’
  • 10. Also, take a minute to read Luke 19:1-10. In vs5, we read that Jesus lookedup at Zacchaeus and spoke to him. Now, why is this significant? Well, here is Zacchaeus, shortin stature, climbing up in a tree to see Jesus. He was not your average religious man, nor a popular man by any means. He was more likely a very hated man. But here he is desperatelyclimbing up into a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. It reminds us of the blind man, Bartimaeus, who kept yelling out for Jesus to come over to him (see Mark 10:46-52). So, to the detriment of his own public image, we see Zacchaeus making every effort to see this man he had heard so much about. And when Jesus arrived at the tree, He simply lookedup at Zacchaeus, spoketo him and then went to hang out at his house. Again, Jesus made Himself available to the despisedof His culture. Jesus Was Willing to Listen to People If you have a moment, check out Luke 24:13-39. Here we find the accountof Jesus on the road to Emmaus with two of his followers. Theyare quite disillusioned following Christ’s death on the cross, unaware of the fact that He had come out of the grave. Now, what we must realise is that this is Jesus’‘big day’. He had just risen from the dead! Mostwould think He would have chosento make a spectacular grand entrance back onto the scene. But what does He do? Jesus simply walks a seven-mile dirt road with two of His followers.
  • 11. In their confusion and disillusionment, Jesus drew near to His two followers, walking the dusty path with them, listening to their conversation(vs15). Jesus, then, throws a few questions out to provoke some more conversation(vs17 and 19). And He, again, takes time to listen to their story, or their complaint. Later on, Christ would end up staying with them and it was through the act of breaking bread that their eyes were opened(vs28-31). Jesus couldhave spent time performing more miracles and wonders, though He never actually did such to amaze people. He could have made appearances to the religious leaders and Pilate to prove His resurrection. But He decided it was best to draw near to two of His disciples who had takena grave blow to their faith. He was more interested in restoring two disillusioned followers than awing the crowdwith a spectacularperformance. This is the Messiah- King, this is the greatservant of all. He was interestedin drawing near to people and listening to them. Another great‘listening’ accountis found in John 4:7-26 betweenJesus and the Samaritanwoman at the well. Jesus was not so important as to keeppeople at a distance. He was committed to people, committed to interacting with humanity. Here was the great shepherd whose first focus was not preaching nor catching vision nor having greatevangelistic crusades.Here was the goodshepherd interacting with the ones He had created. Here was God-in-the-flesh willing to touch, look at and listen to people.
  • 12. Jesus'interactions with women From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jesus'interactions with women are an important element in the theological debate about Christianity and women. Women are prominent in the story of Christ Jesus. He was born of a woman, had numerous interactions with women, and was seenfirst by women after his resurrection. He commissioned the womento go and tell his disciples that he is risen, which is the essential messageofChristianity. Contents 1 High number of references to women 2 Women as disciples 3 Women of obscurity noticedby Jesus 3.1 Peter's mother-in-law 3.2 The woman who touched Jesus'garment 3.3 Daughterof Jairus 3.4 Widow of Nain 3.5 The woman bent double 4 Women as models of faith 4.1 The widow of Zarephath 4.2 The Queenof the South 4.3 Parable of the ten virgins 4.4 The persistentwidow
  • 13. 4.5 A poor widow's offering 5 Women as models of Jesus'work 6 Women as persons of value 6.1 Raising their dead 6.2 Warning againstlust 6.3 Warning againstdivorce 7 Women as first resurrectionwitnesses 8 Mary, mother of Jesus 8.1 At the Temple in Jerusalem 8.2 At the wedding in Cana of Galilee 8.3 At the foot of the cross 9 Mary Magdalene 10 The woman takenin adultery 11 The woman at the well in Samaria 12 The woman from Syrophoenicia 13 Mary and Martha 13.1 Kitchen and study 13.2 The grieving sisters 14 Women who anointed Jesus 14.1 The anointing in Bethany 14.2 The anointing by a repentant sinner 15 Women who ministered with Jesus 16 Jesus on family relationships
  • 14. 17 Twelve and no women (and no Gentiles) 18 See also 19 Notes High number of references to women According to New TestamentscholarDr. Frank Stagg and classicistEvelyn Stagg,[1]the synoptic Gospels of the canonicalNew Testament[2]containa relatively high number of references to women. EvangelicalBible scholar Gilbert Bilezikianagrees, especiallyby comparisonwith literary works of the same epoch.[3]:p.82 Neither the Staggs norBilezikian find any recorded instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, reproaches, orstereotypes a woman. These writers claim that examples of the manner of Jesus are instructive for inferring his attitudes toward womenand show repeatedly how he liberated and affirmed women.[1]Starr writes that of all founders of religions and religious sects, Jesusstands alone as the one who did not discriminate in some way againstwomen. By word or deed he never encouragedthe disparagement of a woman.[4]Karen King concludes, basedon the accountof Jesus' interaction with a Syrophoenicianwoman in Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 15:21-28, that "anunnamed Gentile womantaught Jesus that the ministry of God is not limited to particular groups and persons, but belongs to all who have faith."[5] Women as disciples The gospels ofthe New Testament, written toward the lastquarter of the first century AD, often mention Jesus speaking to women publicly and openly againstthe socialnorms of the time.[6] From the beginning, Jewishwomen disciples, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, andSusanna, had accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of their private means.[Lk. 8:1-3] [7] Kenneth E. Bailey[8]spent 40 years as a Presbyterianprofessorof New Testamentin Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalemand Cyprus. He writes about Christianity from a Middle Easterncultural view. He finds evidence in several New Testamentpassagesthat Jesus had womendisciples. He first cites the
  • 15. reported occasionwhenJesus’family appeared and asked to speak with him. Jesus replied: "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoeverdoes the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother." — Matthew 12:46-50, emphasis addedby Bailey Baileyargues that according to Middle Easterncustoms, Jesus couldnot properly have gesturedto a crowdof men and said, "Here are my brother, and sister, and mother." He could only have said that to a crowdof both men and women. Therefore, the disciples standing before him were composedof men and women.[8] Women of obscurity noticedby Jesus The Gospels recordseveralinstances where Jesusreachesoutto "unnoticeable" women, inconspicuous silentsufferers who blend into the backgroundand are seenby others as "negligible entities destined to exist on the fringes of life."[3] Jesus notices them, recognizes their need and, "in one gloriously wrenching moment, He thrusts them on centerstage in the drama of redemption with the spotlights of eternity beaming down upon them, and He immortalizes them in sacredhistory."[3]:p.82 Peter's mother-in-law Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:30-31, Luke 4:38-39 The three synoptic gospels allrecord the healing of Simon Peter's mother-in- law. When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying
  • 16. in bed with a fever. He healed the woman of fever by touching her hand. She rose and beganto wait on him. With this particular healing, something unique occurs. Quite often, after being healed, people left Jesus to go about their renewedlives. Peter's mother-in-law, however, immediately rose and began to "serve" him. The woman who touched Jesus'garment Illustration by Paolo Veronese ofJesus healing the womanwith a flow of blood. Mark 5:25-34 Jesus practicedthe ministry of touch, sometimes touching the "untouchables" and letting them touch him. Among the things considereddefiling (disqualifying one for the rituals of religion) was an issue of blood, especially menstruation or hemorrhage. One such womanhad been plagued with a flow of blood for 12 years, no one having been able to heal her. She found the faith in a crowd to force her wayup to Jesus, approaching him from behind so as to remain inconspicuous, and simply touching his garment.[Mk. 5:27] When she did, two things happened: the flows of blood stopped and she was discovered.[3]:p.83 Jesus turned and askedwho touched him. The disciples tried to brush aside the question, protesting that in such a crowdno individual could be singled out. Jesus pressedhis inquiry and the woman came and trembled at his feet; she explained her reasonand declaredamid the crowdwhat blessing had come to her.[Lk. 8:47] Jesus treatedher as having worth, not rebuking her for what the Levitical code of holiness would have consideredas defiling him.[Lev. 15:19-25]Rather, he relieved her of any sense ofguilt for her seemingly rashact, lifted her up and calledher "Daughter." He told her that her faith savedher, gave her his love, and senther awaywhole.[Mk. 5:34]
  • 17. Fontaine writes, "The 'chutzpah' shown by the womanwho bled for 12 years as she wrests her salvationfrom the healer's cloak is as much a measure of her desperationas it is a testimony to her faith."[9]:p.291 Fontaine comments that "the Bible views women as a group of people who are fulfilled, legitimated, given full membership into their community, and cared for in old age by their children," and that barren women risked ostracismfrom their communities. She notes that when disabled people are healed, the act"emphasizes primarily the remarkable compassionofthe one doing the gooddeed, not the deserving nature or dignity of the recipient."[9]:p.290 Daughterof Jairus Mark 5:35-43 Jairus was one of the rulers of the Jewishsynagogue,and had a daughter who had been very ill and was now at the point of death. She was an only daughter, and was twelve years of age. So hearing that Jesus was near, Jairus came to Jesus, and, falling down before him, implored Jesus to come and see his sick daughter. She had been comatose, andin Matthew 9:18 her father says she is already dead. Jesus wentto her, even though the others mockedhim and said it was too late. When he saw her body, he took her by the hand and saidto her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" She immediately arose and walkedaround. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat. Widow of Nain Main article: Raising of the sonof the widow of Nain Luke 7:11-17 The widow lived in a remote small town on a hillside in Galilee. However, the death of her only son left her with little means of support.[1 Tim. 5:4] Jesus
  • 18. noticed the grieving woman in the funeral procession. Jesus gave the command "Arise!" and gave the bewildered sonback to his mother. "Theyall knew that God had a speciallove for the little widow with one son in Nain of Galilee."[3]:p.84 The woman bent double Luke 13:10-17 Jesus was teaching in a synagogue onthe Sabbath and saw a womanwho had been "crippled by a spirit for eighteenyears". She was bent over and could not straightenup at all. He called to the woman, said "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity", then laid his hands on her body, and immediately she straightenedup and praised God.[Lk. 13:13] The synagogue ruler, the defender of the Sabbath, was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. Rather than confront Jesus, he rebuked the woman publicly by saying to the whole congregation, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath".[10]In response, Jesussaid, "You hypocrites! Doesn'teachof you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satanhas keptbound for eighteenlong years, be setfree on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"[Lk. 13:15-16]The Staggs emphasize that this is the only reference in New Testamentto "a daughter of Abraham".[1] They conclude that Jesus spoke of this woman as though she belongedto the family of Abraham just as much as did the sons of Abraham. Women as models of faith Jesus who always kept his covenantof chastity presentedwomen as models of faith to his listeners. In the culture of the day, women were neither to be seen
  • 19. nor heard since they were considered"corrupting influences to be shunned and disdained."[3] The widow of Zarephath Main article: Raising of the sonof the widow of Zarephath Luke 4:24-26 The Queenof the South Main article: Queenof the South (biblical reference) Luke 11:31 Parable of the ten virgins Main article: Parable of the TenVirgins Matthew 25:1-13 The persistentwidow Main article: Parable of the Unjust Judge Luke 18:1-8 A poor widow's offering Main article: Lessonof the widow's mite Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4 Jesus honors a poor widow who cast"two copper coins" into the Temple treasury. What the widow gave to God was the totality of her belongings. Women had only limited accessto the Temple in Jerusalem. There Jesus found the most praiseworthypiety and sacrificialgiving, not in the rich contributors, but in a poor woman.[1]
  • 20. Women as models of Jesus'work In the Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Leaven, Jesus presents his ownwork and the growth of the Kingdom of God in terms of a woman and her domestic work.[11]Theseparables follow the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Mustard Seedrespectively, and share the same messages as their more male-orientedcounterparts. JoelB. Greenwrites of the Parable of the Leaven that Jesus "askspeople — male or female, privileged or peasant, it does not matter — to enter the domain of a first-century woman and household cook in order to gain perspective on the domain of God."[12] Women as persons of value Raising their dead The Gospels describe three miracles of Jesus raising persons from the dead. In two out of those three incidents the dead are restoredto women--to Mary and Martha their brother Lazarus[Jn. 11:1-44]and to the unnamed widow from Nain her only son.[Lk. 7:11-17] Warning againstlust Matthew 5:27-29 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounded upon the Ten Commandments. He defended the value of women by equating men's lust to adultery, punishable by hell. Warning againstdivorce Matthew 5:31-33
  • 21. Jesus expounded upon the Book ofDeuteronomy. Regarding men's customof divorce, he defended the rights of wives by equating unjustified divorce with the guilt of causing the sin of adultery. Women as first resurrectionwitnesses After the ResurrectionofJesus, he chose to appear first to a group of women and gave them the privilege of proclaiming his resurrection and communicating his instructions to the Apostles.[Mt. 28:8-10]. This gives further evidence that he did rise from the dead because why would someone make up a story with witnessesthat couldn’t go to court Mary, mother of Jesus Main articles:Mary, mother of Jesus;BlessedVirgin Mary; and Theotokos At the Temple in Jerusalem Luke 2:41–52 The canonicalGospelsofferonly one story about Jesus as a boy—Luke's story about the boy Jesus in the JerusalemTemple. According to Luke, his parents, Josephand Mary, took the 12-year-oldJesus to Jerusalemon their annual pilgrimage to the Passover. Maryand Josephstarted their journey home without Jesus, thinking he was somewhere in the caravanwith kinsmen or acquaintances. Whenhis parents found him three days later, Mary said, "Son, why have you treatedus like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." The boy Jesus respectfullybut firmly reminded her of a higher claim he must answer: "Didn't you know I had to be about my Father's business?"[1]:pp.103–104, 224It is noteworthy that in obedience to his parents, Jesus left and was subjectto them. At the wedding in Cana of Galilee
  • 22. Main article: Marriage atCana John 2:1–11 Mary told Jesus the wine was in short supply. Today his reply may seem curt: "Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come."[Jn. 2:4] Neither here nor elsewhere does Jesusrenounce the mother-son relationship as such, but here, as in Luke 2:49, he declares his vocational(ministerial) independence of his mother. He has an "hour" to meet, and Mary, though his mother, can neither hastennor hinder its coming.[1]:pp.103–104,236 Mostscholars believe that in Jesus'reply to his mother there was no disrespect. According to Matthew Henry's Commentary, he used the same word when speaking to Mary with affectionfrom the cross.[13]ScholarLyn M. Bechteldisagreeswith this reading. She writes that the use of the word "woman" in reference to Jesus'mother is "startling. Although it would not be improper or disrespectfulto address an ordinary woman in this way(as he often does:see John 4:21, 8:10, 20:13-15), it is inappropriate to call his mother 'woman'" (Bechtel1997, p. 249). Bechtelfurther argues that this is a device Jesus uses to distance himself from Judaism. However, Bishop William Temple says there is no English phrase that represents the original "Woman, leave me to myself." "In the Greek it is perfectly respectful and can even be tender—as in John 19:27... We have no corresponding term; 'lady' is precious, and 'madam' is formal. So we must translate simply and let the contextgive the tone."[14]Some versions ofthe Bible translate it as "Dearwoman". (John2:4 NLT; NCV; AMP) At the foot of the cross John 19:26-27
  • 23. Jesus, being Mary's firstborn son, took the responsibility of caring for his aging mother's future. Soonbefore he died, Jesus made arrangements for the disciple whom Jesus loved to take care of her. Mary Magdalene Main article: Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene (also calledMiriam of Magdala)is among the women depicted in the New Testamentwho accompaniedJesus and his twelve apostles, andwho also helped to support the men financially.[Lk. 8:2–3] According to Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56, John 19:25, and Luke 23:49, she was one of the women who remained at Jesus'crucifixion. The New Testamentsays she saw Jesus laid in a tomb. Mark 16:9 reports that after his resurrection, Jesus appearedfirst to Mary Magdalene. The New Testament also says that Jesus had cast sevendemons out of her. For centuries, Mary Magdalene was identified in WesternChristianity as an adulteress and repentant prostitute, although nowhere does the New Testamentidentify her as such. In the late 20th century, discoveries ofnew texts and changing critical insight brought this into question. According to Harvard theologianDr. Karen King, Mary Magdalene wasa prominent disciple and leaderof one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership.[5] King cites references in the Gospelof John that the risen Jesus gives Mary specialteaching and commissions heras an "apostle to the apostles."She is the first to announce the resurrectionand to play the role of an apostle, although the term is not specificallyusedof her (though, in Eastern Christianity she is referred to as "Equal to the Apostles"). Later tradition, however, names her as "the apostle to the apostles."King writes that the strength of this literary tradition makes it possible to suggestthathistorically
  • 24. Mary was a prophetic visionary and leaderwithin one sectorof the early Christian movement after the death of Jesus.[5]Asbury TheologicalSeminary Bible scholarBen Witherington III confirms the New Testamentaccountof Mary Magdalene as historical:"Mary was an important early disciple and witness for Jesus."[15]He continues, "There is absolutely no early historical evidence that Miriam's (Mary's) relationship with Jesus was anything other than that of a disciple to her Masterteacher." Jeffrey Kripal, Chair of Rice University's Department of Religious Studies, writes that Christian Gnostic texts put Mary Magdalene in a centralposition of authority, but these texts were excluded from orthodox Biblical canons. Kripal describes MaryMagdalene as a tragic figure who maintained an important role later diminished by the male church leadership (Kripal 2007, p. 51). Kripal explains that gnostic texts suggestanintimate, possibly sexual relationship betweenJesus and Mary Magdalene, but that Jesus'sexuality is absolutely ambiguous based on the available evidence:"The historicalsources are simply too contradictoryand simultaneously too silent on the matter".(Kripal 2007, p. 50) According to Kripal, the gnostic texts "consistently[present] Mary as an inspired visionary, as a potent spiritual guide, as Jesus'intimate companion, even as the interpreter of his teaching".(Kripal 2007, p. 52) Kripal writes that theologies ofthe European Middle Ages likely invented the notion of a sexual relationship betweenMary Magdalene and Jesus:"The medieval Catharists and Albigensians, for example, held that Mary was Jesus'concubine. The greatProtestantreformer Martin Luther also assumeda sexual relationship betweenthe two, perhaps to give some historical precedentfor his own dramatic rejectionof Catholic celibacy".(Kripal2007, p. 52) The woman takenin adultery Main article: Jesus and the woman taken in adultery
  • 25. "The adulterous woman" by Lorenzo Lotto. John 7:53–8:11 This story, beloved for its revelationof God's mercy toward sinners, is found only in John's Gospel.[16]Jesus wasteaching in the Temple in Jerusalem. Some scribes and Phariseesinterrupted his teaching as they brought in a woman who had been taken in the very act of adultery. Their treatment of the woman is callous and demeaning. They stoodher before him, declaredthe charge, reminded him of Moses'commandthat such womenbe stoned. More precisely, the law speaks ofthe death of both the man and the woman involved.[Lev. 20:10][Deut. 22:22-24]We are left wondering why the man was not brought in along with the woman. "What do you say?" they asked. If he is lax toward the law, then he is condemned. But if he holds a strict line, then he has allowedthem to prevail in their ungodly treatment of this womanand will be held responsible by the Romans if the stoning proceeds. After a time of silence, Jesusstoopeddown and wrote with his finger on the ground. It was unlawful to write even two letters on the sabbath but writing with dust was permissible (m. shabbat 7:2; 12:5). The text includes no hint of what he wrote. The woman's accusers were trying to entrap Jesus, not just the woman. To them she was a worthless objectto be used to "catch" Jesus ona theologicallegalissue. Finally, Jesus stoodup and said to the accusers, "Letthe one among you who is without sin castthe first stone." He stoopeddown once more and again wrote on the ground. In his answerJesus did not condone adultery. He compelled her accusers to judge themselves and find themselves guilty—of this sin and/or others. No one could pass the test, and they slipped out one by one, beginning with the eldest.
  • 26. When Jesus and the woman were finally alone, he askedhera simple question, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She simply replied, "No one, Lord." She becomes a memorable example of the fact that "Goddid not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.[Jn. 3:17] Jesus says to her, "Neitherdo I condemn you. Go, and from now on no longer sin."[Jn. 8:11] "Here is mercy and righteousness.He condemnedthe sin and not the sinner." (Augustine In John 33.6)But more than that, he calledher to a new life. While acknowledging that she had sinned, he turned her in a new direction with real encouragement. Jesusrejectedthe double standard for women and men and turned the judgment upon the male accusers.His manner with the sinful woman was such that she found herself challengedto a new self- understanding and a new life.[1][17] The woman at the well in Samaria John 4:1–42 Orthodox icon of Photina, the Samaritanwoman, meeting Jesus by the well. The in-depth accountabout Jesus and the SamaritanWoman at the Well is highly significant for understanding Jesus in severalrelationships: Samaritans, women, and sinners. By talking openly with this woman, Jesus crosseda number of barriers which normally would have separateda Jewish teacherfrom such a personas this woman of Samaria. Jesus did three things that were highly unconventional and astonishing for his cultural-religious situation: He as a man discussedtheologyopenly with a woman.
  • 27. He as a Jew askedto drink from the ritually unclean bucketof a Samaritan. He did not avoid her, even though he knew her marital record of having had five former husbands and now living with a man who was not her husband. The disciples showedtheir astonishmentupon their return to the well: "They were marveling that he was talking with a woman.[Jn. 4:27] A man in the Jewishworld did not normally talk with a woman in public, not even with his own wife. For a rabbi to discuss theologywith a woman was even more unconventional. Jesus did not defer to a womansimply because she was a woman. He did not hesitate to ask of the womanthat she let him drink from her vessel, but he also did not hesitate to offer her a drink of another kind from a Jewish"bucket" as he said to her, "Salvationis of the Jews."[Jn. 4:22] Salvationwas coming to the Samaritanwoman from the Jews, andculturally there was greatenmity betweenthe Jews and the Samaritans (considereda half-breed race by the Jews).[18]Although she was a Samaritan, she needed to be able to drink from a Jewish"vessel"(ofsalvation) and Jesus no more sanctionedSamaritanprejudice againstJew than Jewishprejudice against Samaritan. This is an event without precedent:that a woman, and what is more a “sinful woman,” becomes a “disciple” of Christ. Indeed, once taught, she proclaims Christ to the inhabitants of Samaria so that they too receive him with faith. This is an unprecedented event, if one remembers the usual way womenwere treated by those who were teachers in Israel; whereas in Jesus of Nazareth’s way of acting such an event becomes normal. — Pope John Paul II[19] The keyto Jesus'stance is found in his perceiving persons as persons. He saw the strangerat the well as someone who first and foremostwas a person—not primarily a Samaritan, a woman, or a sinner. This evangelizedwoman became an evangelist. She introduced her community to "a man" whom they came to acclaimas "the Savior of the world."[Jn. 4:42] Jesus liberatedthis
  • 28. woman and awakenedher to a new life in which not only did she receive but also gave. The Bible says she brought "many Samaritans" to faith in Christ.[v.39]If the men in John 1 were the first "soul winners," this woman was the first "evangelist" in John's gospel.[1] The woman from Syrophoenicia Main article: Exorcismof the Syrophoenicianwoman's daughter Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30 This incident is unlike any other in the canonicalGospels. The woman, whose little daughter was possessedby an impure spirit, came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She beggedJesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus seems harshtowardthe woman as he first denies her request for help for her daughter. He also appears to be condescending and denigrating of her as he says, "Firstlet the children be fed, for it is not fitting to take the bread of the children and throw it to the dogs."[Mk.7:27]In the context, "the children" seemto be Jews and "the dogs" Gentiles. She is identified as "a Greek, a Syrophoenicianby race."[Mk. 7:25]The point is not that she is a woman, but that she is not Jewish, but a Gentile. "Dogs" was epithet of the day for Gentiles, and Jesus appears to be on the side of Jewishcontempt for Gentiles. In both Mark and Matthew, non-Jews are likened to "dogs," anda woman deeply concernedfor her daughter's condition is brushed off until she herselfprevails in her discourse with Jesus. As to the manner of Jesus with women, he did not substitute uncritical deference for prejudice againstwomen. He related to women as persons with words and dignity. In this story as elsewhere,Jesus is seenas capable of manifesting a critical stance towardwoman, yet at the same time being
  • 29. respectfulof her self-affirmation as she boldly counteredhis own remarks.[1]:p.115 Why Jesus appearedharsh to a disadvantagedperson, and also seems to lose the brief spirited and incisive dialog with her is still debated among authorities. Severalinterpretations have been offered by theologians. Evelyn and Frank Stagg suggestthree possibilities: Jesus couldhave been instructing his disciples, first assuming a familiar Jewishprejudice toward non-Jews, and then abandoning it as its unfairness was exposed. The story may have served as an object lessonabout prejudice to his disciples as a barrier is broken down betweenJews and Gentiles. Jesus may have been testing the woman's faith. Jesus'parting word to her is one of affirmation and acclaim. She passedhis test. There may have been a deep struggle within Jesus as he dealt with the claims of both Jew and Gentile. He had openness to Jews who were outside of acceptedcircles (publicans, sinners, prostitutes). He also wentout of his way to affirm Samaritans (for example, the womanat the well). As an ethnic group, Samaritans had mutual animosity with the Jews. Itis clearthat Jesus had to give himself unreservedly to Israel, and yet also to the rest of the world. Jesus may have been having a deep, honeststruggle within himself over the claims of two worlds upon him.[1]:pp.113–115 Gilbert Bilezekianbelieves Jesus'seeminglyindifferent attitude to the woman's plea and the strange dialogue that followedshould not be interpreted as reluctance on his part to minister either to Gentiles or to a woman. He focuses onher faith, which Jesus laterdescribes as "great".[Matt. 15:28] Wanting her to state her understanding of his ministry, he drew out her convictions and provided an opportunity to teacha lessonof racial inclusiveness to his "intolerant disciples". She expressedher faith that
  • 30. Gentiles have a share in salvation, confessingthat his messiahship transcends human segregationsofJew, Gentile, man or woman. She was his first convert in the "Gentile world".[3]:pp.100–101 Mary and Martha "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" by Jan Vermeer, 1655. Luke and John show that Jesus had a close relationshipwith the sisters Mary and Martha who residedin Bethany.[1]They are featured in three major stories: A tension betweenthe two sisters over roles[Lk. 10:38–42)] Grief at the death of their brother Lazarus, followedby his being raised,[Jn. 11:1–44]and Martha serving and Mary anointing Jesus (explicitly in John 12:1–8); presumably in Mark 14:3–9;Matthew 26:6–13). Seethe anointing in Bethany. Kitchen and study Luke 10:38-42 Luke relates an occasionoftension during one of Jesus'visits to the home of Martha and Mary. While Martha prepared the meal, Mary satat the feet of Jesus and "she was hearing his word."[Lk. 10:39] Martha became distracted and frustrated over having to serve the meal without any help from her sister. Finally she openly shared her feelings, stoodover Jesus who was either seated or reclining, and complained: "She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sisterhas left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Jesus gently rebuked Martha for being so distractedand troubled over many things, when only one thing was necessary. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "youare worried and upset about many things, but only one thing
  • 31. is needed. Mary has chosenwhat is better, and it will not be takenawayfrom her."[Lk. 10:41-42] Mary's choice was not a conventionalone for Jewishwomen. She satat the feet of Jesus and was listening to his teaching and religious instruction. Jewish women were not permitted to touch the Scriptures; they were not taught the Torah, although they were instructed in accordancewith it for the proper regulation of their lives. A rabbi did not instruct a woman in the Torah. Mary choose the "goodpart," but Jesus relatedit to her in a teacher-discipleship relationship. He admitted her into "the study" and commended her for her choice. In the tradition of that day, womenwere excluded from the altar- oriented priestly ministry, and the exclusionencroachedupon the Word- oriented ministry for women. Jesus reopenedthe Word-ministry for woman. Mary was at leastone of his students in theology. Jesus vindicated Mary's rights to be her own person—to be Mary and not Martha. He showedhis approval of a woman's right to opt for the study and not be compelled to be in the kitchen. Jesus establishedhis own priorities in declaring, "Manshall not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out through the mouth of God.[Mt. 4:4] Martha needed to be reminded of the priority of Word over bread. Luke's accountof Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha puts Jesus solidlyon the side of the recognitionof the full personhoodof woman, with the right to options for her ownlife. By socializing with both sisters and in defending Mary's right to a role then commonly denied to Jewishwomen, Jesus was following his far-reaching principle of human liberation.[1] The grieving sisters John 11:1-44
  • 32. One of Jesus'most famous miracles was raising Lazarus from four days in the tomb. But it is also a striking reminder that while God works all things for the best, He doesn't always do it according to the schedules we expect.[20] Jesus'followers hadgiven up hope after Lazarus' death, but Jesus had a plan to glorify God and heal Lazarus in a more spectacularwaythan anyone expected. The centralfigure, however, is Jesus, identified as "the resurrection and the life." When the brother of Mary and Martha became ill, they sentfor Jesus. Forsome undisclosedreason, Jesus did not arrive until four days after Lazarus died. The grieving sisters, Martha first and then Mary, met Jesus. Jesus raisedLazarus from the dead and then proclaimed himself as "the resurrectionand the life." Martha gently reproachedJesus, "Lord, had you been here, my brother would not have died." She hastenedto express full confidence that Godwould grant whateverJesus askedhim to grant. Martha reflecteda spiritual understanding beyond that required for preparing and serving a meal.[Jn. 11:21–27] Apparently, Martha and not just Mary had benefited from the study. Mary stayed in the house until Jesus calledfor her. When Martha went to gether, Mary came quickly fell at Jesus'feet(Mary is at the feetof Jesus in every appearance recordedin John's gospel). She repeatedthe words Martha already had used: "Lord, had you been here my brother would not have died." Jesus was deeplymoved upon seeing Mary and her friends weeping. They invited Jesus to come and see the tomb where Lazarus had been laid. Jesus burst into tears. The Jews standing by understood this as reflecting Jesus's love for Lazarus, "see how he loved him" (v. 36). The foursome of Jesus, Mary, Lazarus, and Martha had a close relationshipas persons, with neither denial of gender differences nor preoccupationwith it. Here were persons of both genders whose mutual respect, friendship and love carried them through experiences oftension, grief, and joy. Apparently Jesus was secure enoughto develop such a relationship with two sisters and their brother without fear for his reputation. When necessary, he could oppose
  • 33. them without fear of chauvinism. Jesus had much to do with the liberation and growth of Martha and Mary.[1] In the accountof the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn: Martha followedby Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. As one commentatornotes, "Martha, the more aggressive sister, wentto meet Jesus, while quiet and contemplative Mary stayedhome. This portrayal of the sisters agreeswith that found in Luke 10:38-42."[21]WhenMary meets Jesus, she falls at his feet. In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time to prevent their brother's death: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."[Jn. 11:21,32]Butwhere Jesus'response to Martha is one of teaching calling her to hope and faith, his response to Mary is more emotional: "When Jesus saw herweeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.[Jn. 11:33] As the 17th-century British commentator Matthew Henry notes, "Mary added no more, as Martha did; but it appears, by what follows, that what she fell short in words she made up in tears;she said less than Martha, but wept more."[22] Women who anointed Jesus Main article: Anointing of Jesus The Gospels presenttwo stories of Jesus being anointed by a woman: (1) three accounts ofhis being anointed in Bethany, only John's accountidentifying Mary with the anointing; and (2) one accountof Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman who definitely was neither Mary (of Mary and Martha) nor Mary Magdalene.[23] The EasternOrthodox Church views Mary Magdalene,Maryof Bethany, and the "sinful woman" as three different individuals, and also maintains that
  • 34. Jesus was anointedon two different occasions:once by Mary of Bethany and once by the "sinful woman." The anointing in Bethany Main article: Anointing of Jesus Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8 Jesus is quoted in Matthew as assuring that the story of a woman's sacrificial love and devotion to him will have a place in the gospelwhereverpreached. Mary probably anticipatedJesus'death, but that is not certain. At leasther beautiful deed gave Jesus neededsupport as he approachedhis awaitedhour. Eachof the two sisters Maryand Martha had their own way of ministering to Jesus:Martha, perhaps being more practical, served him a meal; Mary lavishly anointed him. A narrative in which Mary of Bethany plays a central role (in at leastone of the accounts)is the event reported by the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospelof John in which a woman pours the entire contents of an alabastronof very expensive perfume overthe head of Jesus. Only in the John accountis the woman identified as Mary, with the earlierreference in Jn. 11:1-2 establishing her as the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The woman's name in not given in the Gospels ofMatthew[26:6-13]andMark.[14:3-9]According to Mark's account, the perfume was the purest of spikenard. Some of the onlookersare angeredbecause this expensive perfume could have been sold for a year's wages,whichMark enumerates as 300 denarii, and the money given to the poor. The Gospelof Matthew states that the "disciples were indignant" and John's gospelstates that it was Judas who was mostoffended (which is explained by the narrator as being because Judas was a thief and desired the money for himself). In the accounts, Jesus justifies Mary's action by stating that they
  • 35. would always have the poor among them and would be able to help them wheneverthey desired, but that he would not always be with them. He says that her anointing was done to prepare him for his burial. "Maryseems to have been the only one who was sensitive to the impending death of Jesus and who was willing to give a material expressionof her esteemfor him. Jesus' reply shows his appreciationof her act of devotion."[21] Easton(1897)noted that it would appearfrom the circumstances that the family of Lazarus possesseda family vault[Jn. 11:38] and that a large number of Jews from Jerusalemcame to console them on the death of Lazarus,[11:19] that this family at Bethany belonged to the wealthier class ofthe people. This may help explain how Mary of Bethany could afford to possessquantities of expensive perfume.[24] The anointing by a repentant sinner Main article: Parable of the Two Debtors Luke 7:36-50 In the Gospelof Luke, Jesus is an invited guestin the home of Simon the Pharisee. All at the table were men. During the meal a woman known as "a sinner" entered the room and anointed Jesus'feetwith her tears and with some ointment. Her tears fell upon his feet and she wiped them with her hair. The Bible does not saywhether she had encounteredJesus in person prior to this. Neither does the Bible disclose the nature of her sin. Women of the time had few options to support themselves financially; thus, her sin may have been prostitution. Had she been an adulteress, she would have been stoned. When Jesus permitted her to express her love and appreciationto him as she did, the host rejectedit contemptuously. At a minimum, this story shows the
  • 36. manner of Jesus with one sinful woman. His unconditional love for both saints and sinners may have been so well knownthat this woman had the courage to take this greatrisk to publicly express her love for him for seeing her not as a sex objectto be exploited, but as a person of worth. Women who ministered with Jesus Luke 8:1–3 Luke's gospelis unique in documenting that there were many women who benefited personally from Jesus'ministry, but who also ministered to him and with him—even to the point of accompanying him and the Twelve on evangelistic journeys. Mostprominent among these is Mary Magdalene.[1] Luke 8:1–3 in the Greek text is one long sentence. Its three main focalpoints are Jesus, the Twelve, and certain women. Jesus is traveling through cities and towns, preaching the Kingdom of God, evangelizing, and accompaniedby the Twelve. Otherthan mentioning that the Twelve were with him, nothing more is said of them here. The chief motive of the paragraph seems to be to bring into focus certain women, of whom there were "many". This passagepresents them as recipients of healing at different levels of need, and also as actively participating with Jesus and the Twelve, accompanying them in their travels. Luke makes specialreference to the financial support of these women to Jesus'ministry. He says there were many women. He points out that these included women who were prominent in the public life of the state as well as in the church. Luke's accountspecifies two categoriesofhealing: evil spirits and infirmities. Jesus liberatedand humanized people who otherwise were being enslavedor
  • 37. destroyedby forces within themselves and in society. Jesushealedmany women of "evil spirits and infirmities". Only of Mary Magdalene does Luke provide any detail of her healing, stating that "sevendemons" had been cast out. Presumably these "many" womenhad been healed of various illnesses— physical, emotional, and mental. No specific data is provided on Mary Magdalene's "sevendemons". It is significant that womenwhose conditions subjectedthem to scornand penalty found in Jesus a Liberator who not only enabled them to find health, but who dignified them as full persons by accepting their own ministries to himself and to the Twelve.[1] Thus, it is significant that women had such an open and prominent part in the ministry of Jesus. Luke's word for their "ministering" is widely used in the New Testament. Its noun cognate, diakonos, is variously translated "minister," "servant," and "deacon" (the latter for Phoebe in Romans 16:1 and in the pastoralletters). In summary, Jesus attractedto his movement a large number of women, ranging from some in desperate need to some in official circles of government.[1] Jesus on family relationships Jesus ate with a Pharisee leaderone evening. After instructing his host to include the most disadvantagedin his feasts, Jesus gavea parable of the many personalreasons why guests might refuse an invitation, including marriage and recentfinancial acquisitions.[Lk. 14:18–20]Jesus then addressesa great multitude and says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, evenlife itself—sucha person cannotbe my disciple."[Lk. 14:26] Various expositors suggestthat "hate" is an example of comparative hyperbolic biblical language, prominent in some Easterncultures even today,
  • 38. to imply "love less than you give me," "comparedto Christ,"[25]the Semitic idea of "lowerpreference," a callto count the costof following Jesus.[26] When Jesus was told that his mother and brothers waited for him outside and wanted to speak to him, Jesus createda novel definition of family. He saidto the people who were gatheredto hear him speak, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretchedforth his hand toward his disciples, and said, 'Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoevershalldo the will of my Fatherwhich is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.'"[Mt. 12:48–50] Twelve and no women (and no Gentiles) There were no women among the Twelve, and neither were there any Gentiles. All four listings in the New Testamentof the names of the Twelve indicate that all of the Twelve were Jewishmales: Matthew 10:1–4 Mark 3:13–19 Luke 6:12–16 Acts 1:13 The names vary in the four lists, but their male identity is clearand is often cited as biblical evidence that pastors should all be male. The New Testament gives no clear answerwhy the example of Jesus in choosing his apostles is not a complete overcoming of male bias.[1] Severalconsiderations may be placedalongside this one. Jesus advanced various principles that went beyond their immediate implementation. For example, he clearly repudiated the Jew-Samaritanantipathy, affirming not
  • 39. only his own Jewishkin but also the Samaritan. Yet, there are no Samaritans among the Twelve. Jesus affirmed both women and Samaritans as persons having the fullest right to identity, freedom, and responsibility, but for some undisclosedreasonhe included neither women nor Gentiles in his close circle of the Twelve.[1] Perhaps custom here was so entrenched that Jesus simply stopped short of fully implementing a principle that he made explicit and emphatic: "Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother."[Mk. 3:35] By selecting 12 Jewishmales, Jesus may have been offering a parallel to the 12 patriarchs or 12 tribes of Israel, eachheaded by a son of Jacob.[1] Another possible explanation surrounds the purpose stated for his choosing the Twelve:"...sothat they might be with him."[Mk. 3:14] They were his constantcompanions day and night—exceptwhen he sent them out to preach. It was the custom for Jewishrabbis to have such an entourage ofdisciples. "Suchclose and sustained associationwith a member of the opposite sex would have given rise to defamatory rumor."[4]:p.174 Howeverthe restrictionof the Twelve to Jewishmen is to be accountedfor, Jesus did introduce far-reaching principles which bore fruit even in a former rabbi, the Apostle Paul, who at leastin vision could say, "There is not any Jew nor Greek, notany slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."[Gal. 3:28]Further, the inclusion of "many" women in the traveling company of Jesus represents a decisive move in the formation of a new community. The Twelve are all men and also are all Jews, but even at this point women "minister" to them. Unless one would argue that "apostolic succession"(howeveradapted) is for Jews only, it cannot be argued that only men can become members of the clergy.[1]
  • 40. The Staggs'believe a likely explanation to be that Jesus beganwhere he was, within the structures of Judaism as he knew it in his upbringing. His closest companions initially may have been Jews, men, and men of about his own age. He began there, but he did not stop there. Even in the early stagesofhis mission, womenwere becoming deeply involved at the power centerof Jesus' movement.[1] 3 Keys of Jesus’Teachings in Interacting With Others December18, 2017 Leave a comment By Hanxiao In this complex society, we have to deal with all kinds of people every day. Eachperson’s personality, hobbies, habits, temperament, etc. are all different, so in our interactions some conflicts and misunderstandings will inevitably arise. Getting along well with others is not easy—this brings greatdifficulties to our work and life, and can be physically or mentally damaging to various degrees. Thoughthis is very distressing for many people, they also feellike their hands are tied, and there are quite a few Christians who are no exception. So what exactlyshould we do to achieve harmony in our interactions? Here we will share simple fellowship on three principles. If our practice is in line with these three principles below, these headache-inducing interpersonal issues will surely be resolved. holding hands
  • 41. The first principle of getting along with others is to love eachother. The Lord Jesus taught us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). It is recordedin Matthew 18:21–22, “Then came Peterto Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin againstme, and I forgive him? till seventimes? Jesus saidto him, I say not to you, Until seventimes: but, Until seventy times seven.” From these verses we cansee that the Lord requires us to love eachother, have a forgiving heart, and be tolerant of others’ mistakes. Since we’re all of different ages, ofdifferent calibers, we have different hobbies and backgrounds, plus we all have some weaknessesand shortcomings, if the foundation of our interpersonal relationships is built upon mutual love and we considerthings from others’ perspectives, we will encounter fewerconflicts and misunderstandings and will be able to get along well with others. Some people have love for others and a compassionate heart;they love to help others and are able to comfort those who are suffering and experiencing hardships. People like this please God and others are fond of them as well. However, those who lack love for others and always think of their own interests cannot possibly get along well with others. Even if they do have love for others, it is temporary and conditional, and they only help and are tolerant of those who are kind to them and have never hurt them. Once someone hurts them or infringes upon their interests, though they may appear tolerant on the outside, in their heart they are filled with dissatisfactionand hatred. They can’t practice the Lord’s way. They are detestedby God and disliked by people. Therefore we should practice the Lord’s words in our interactions, and love others as we love ourselves, as the Lord requires; only then will we be able to interact harmoniously with others. But perhaps there will still be times we’re unable to willingly be tolerantof, patient with, and forgiving of others. What’s required of us in this sortof situation is to pray more to the Lord and ask Him to give us a heart of genuine tolerance and love for others. When we truly rely on the Lord to practice tolerance and patience, our prejudices and dissatisfactions with others in our hearts will gradually disappear. However, there are also principles for loving others as we love ourselves. God does not want us to love others blindly. It’s just like how the Lord Jesus was full of mercy and love
  • 42. toward His believers and followers, while He was full of condemnationand curses for those hypocritical Pharisees who opposedGod. The Lord’s different attitudes toward these two kinds of people embody God’s righteous disposition. Therefore, we should treat brothers and sisters who truly believe in God and practice the Lord’s words with great sincerity; we should be loving and helpful. As for Satan’s forces that oppose and condemn God, we should draw clearboundaries and clearlydistinguish betweenlove and hate. talking The secondprinciple is to treat others properly. The Lord Jesus said, “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but considernot the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first castout the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearlyto castout the mote out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3–5). When we are in conflictwith others, we always feelthat the other personis wrong or the problem is with them. In fact, at these times we are living within our satanic dispositionof arrogance and self-righteousness;we’re being entirely self-centeredand looking down on others. We’re unable to treat others objectively and fairly. This is why we should first resolve our own corrupt dispositions, reflecton and know our own shortcomings and deficiencies, andseek the truth that we should enter into; only then can we treat others properly. If we always fixate our gaze on others’shortcomings, we will never be able to getalong wellwith anyone. For example, we tend to see our family members’ shortcomings when we spend time with them; we feel like our spouse doesn’t know how to take care of others, they are inconsiderate, the food they make isn’t to our taste, our child is temperamental and hard to discipline, and so on; when we are with our colleaguesandfriends, we find that one of our colleaguesis selfish, another one tends to judge others behind their backs, orsome friend likes to take advantage of others, etc. This is often distressing for us because we do not know how to get along with them. In fact, regardless ofwhetherothers’ personality and behaviors are compatible with our preferences ornot, we
  • 43. should not be prejudiced againstthem and just treat them howeverwe like. We are all people who have been corrupted by Satan; we ourselves possess quite a few problems just as others do, so how are we qualified in any way to make demands of others? Additionally, Godhas bestoweddifferent strengths and advantages upon every one of us in the hope that we can absorb the strengths of others to make up for our shortcomings. Only by doing so can we progress more quickly. Once we have this kind of understanding, when others do something that we do not like, we can deny ourselves, not ask too much of others, and not force what we think is right on others. Instead, we can consciouslydiscoverothers’strengths and absorbtheir positive qualities—this is how we can treat others properly. Furthermore, in our actions we should not only think of ourselves, but we should also be considerate towardothers, learn to care for others more often, and let others benefit. Only then can we get along well with others. love others The third principle of harmonious interactionwith others is to not focus on life philosophies, but instead, focus on establishing a proper relationship with God. In real life, we often use satanic philosophies of life to maintain our relationships with others, such as, “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation,” “One more friend means one more path; one more enemy means one more obstacle,”“Keeping silenton the faults of goodfriends makes for a long and goodfriendship,” and so on. When we base our interactions with others on these life philosophies, we curry favor and engage in flattery with others so that we can maintain a goodrelationship with them. We only talk about their goodpoints and dare not point out their shortcomings;we protect our interpersonalrelationships even if it means going againstthe principles of the truth. The Lord detests this kind of behavior, because whatwe exalt are Satan’s philosophies, not the Lord’s words. What the Lord requires of us is the ability to have a proper relationship with Him and do everything in accordancewith His words, such as being honest people in line with His requirements, and not saying anything false in our interactions or ingratiating ourselves with others. He also requires that when we see brothers and sisters
  • 44. do things that are not in line with or violate the Lord’s teachings, we should help them out of love; we should not be afraid to offend them but instead point out their mistakes and help them resolve their problems. In short, all of our interactions should be establishedon the foundation of the Lord’s teachings. We should put into practice whateverthe Lord requires of us. No matter who we are interacting with, we must be able to directly face the Lord and acceptHis scrutiny. Only with this kind of practice canwe have a proper relationship with the Lord. Once we have a proper relationship with the Lord, our relationships with other people will become proper as well, and then we’ll get along harmoniously with others very naturally. Above are the three principles of practice regarding harmonious interactions with others that we as Christians should enter into. If we are able to frequently put these three principles into practice, many of our difficulties with others will be easily resolved, what we live out will gain the Lord’s praise, and we will become people who bring joy to the Lord. Jesus'Surprising Interactions With Other Religions MARCH 29, 2017 Photo by suc / pixabay.com By Jim Baton
  • 45. Ding-dong. As I head for the door, my daughter screams. "Dad!Do not open that door!" I turn to find my daughter peeking out the window. "Why not?" I ask. "It's those people again. You know, the ties, the bikes…whydo they have to bother us?" Think about the last interaction you had with someone from a different religion—maybe the Jehovah's Witness that knockedon your door, the Muslim woman watching her kids play at the park, or the New Ager who tried to sell you healing crystals. Did you approach the interaction with any particular goalin mind? Were you successfulin meeting that goal, or not? Think about the last interaction you had with someone from a different religion. Did you approachthe interaction with any particular goalin mind? Were you successfulin meeting that goal, or not? I can recallmany instances in my life when I workedup the courage to talk to someone from another religion, with the goalof helping them see the Truth. More often than not, the conversationended with me failing at my goaland very little chance that either of us would want to meet again. Jesus didn't leave that kind of bad taste in people's mouths, probably because he approachedthose of other religions very differently than we do. Though most of Jesus'ministry occurredin a small region of the world to a largely homogenous Jewishsociety, he still found opportunities to interact with those of foreign backgrounds, who probably carried either partially or
  • 46. fully their traditional religions with them. Jesus spoke withRomans, who came from a polytheistic background; with Syrians and Canaanites, traditionally worshippers of idols including Baaland Ashtoreth; and with Samaritans, whose religionwas similar to the Jews in that they followedthe Torahand believed in a coming Messiah, but had differences in how they worshiped and lookedto Mount Gerizim as their holiest site. (The Samaritan religion is still around today.) The Gospels recordJesus'interactions with specific foreigners suchas the Roman Centurion with a sick servant (Luke 7); the Roman governorPilate (John 18-19);the Canaanite womanwith a sick daughter (Matthew 15);the Samaritan leper grateful for his healing (Luke 17); the sinful Samaritan woman at the well(John 4); the allegoricalGoodSamaritan(Luke 10); and many unnamed sick and demonized from the regions of Syria and the Decapolis who were mostlikely not Jewish(Matthew 4 & 8; Mark 3 & 7). In all these interactions we find Jesus'approachto be surprisingly different from how he approachedthe Pharisees orhis own disciples. Surely Jesus woulddesire that all of these foreigners leave their false religions and embrace the truth. So how did he approachthem? Reading eachof the passagesmentioned above would be highly instructional for those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Here's my summary of how Jesus interactedwith those of other religions: What Jesus DID: – healed the sick – delivered the demonically oppressed – told people to tell others what God had done for them
  • 47. – praised people for their greatfaith – praised people as examples of what God wants – announced they would feastin heaven with the earlierprophets. Only when he was askeddid Jesus revealhimself as Messiah(John4) and King (John 18). What Jesus DIDN'T do: – follow his own Jewishculture's prejudicial norms – condemn or rebuke – warn of judgment or hell – argue theology, debate, quote the Scriptures, ask if people wanted to know the Gospel, orask people to change anything. Think about that for a moment. Jesus didn't try to convince people to believe anything new, change any behavior, or join his group. He simply loved them, praised the goodin them, and only answeredthe questions they were actually asking. A survey conductedin January 2017 by the Pew ResearchCenterprovides insight into how Americans currently feel about different religious groups. Two results from this survey are particularly apropos:
  • 48. 1. The young generation(age 18-29)feelmore warmly towardBuddhists (+66), Hindus and Catholics (+64), and Jews (+62)than they do toward EvangelicalChristians (+59). EvangelicalChristians in factrank closerto Atheists (+59)and Muslims (+58). 2. Although Republicans have the warmestfeelings for EvangelicalChristians (+71), Democrats put EvangelicalChristians near the bottom of the list with Mormons (+53 & +52 respectively), far behind Jews (+66), Catholics and Buddhists (+64), Hindus (+61), Atheists (+57)and even Muslims (+56). The study also found that Americans tend to feel most warmly towardthose who are like themselves. No wonder Republicans and the elderly like evangelicals—they're showing a preference for their own group. But for the many out there who do NOT identify as evangelicals—whetherthey're from the young generation, the Democratic Party, or another religious group— their feelings toward evangelicalsare not so warm. In fact, according to author JosephMattera, many American Muslims "believe Christians hate them." How can we change this negative perception? By changing the dynamics of our interactions. We need to leave behind some of the agenda-baseddialogue and argumentative approaches thathave neither achievedour goals of convincing others to change nor reflectedthe heart of our Savior. It's time we got back to doing what Jesus did—loving, healing, praising, and responding to what is truly on people's hearts. We shouldn't do these things so that people from other backgrounds will like us, or even so they will convert—we should do them because we claimto follow Jesus. The more we become like him, the more magnetically people will
  • 49. be drawn to us, and discoverfor themselves that Jesus is "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Jim Baton's 20 years living in a Muslim nation have birthed a series ofnovels that are transforming people's perceptions on Muslims and how God would have us relate to them in love. His most recent novel, A Violent Light, was releasedin December2016. 6 PEOPLE JESUS INCLUDED (WHO EVERYONE ELSE EXCLUDED) Learn selfless compassionfrom Christ’s example October24th, 2014 Jennica Stevens Almost every kid has a memory of being excluded on the playground. I do. I was in the third grade when suddenly the popular girls decided that I couldn’t play with them. The insult stung longer than the few days they left me out of their activities. But exclusiondoesn’t stop as children grow into adults. From work cliques to Facebook jibes, people of all ages exclude others from acceptance,love and affection, often for no discernible reason. But Jesus was different. He went out of his way to extend love where it wasn’t expected—to society’s outcasts.He included the excluded. And we canall learn from his example in the following passages.
  • 50. Jesus caredfor children. Jesus’s disciples were annoyedby the children that people brought to Jesus. Perhaps they thought the squirming, noisy kids weren’t as important as the adults Jesus was teaching. But Jesus told his disciples that the children could stay and that “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Readthe story in Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus talkedto a “sinful woman.” Although the text does not elaborate on the woman’s sin was, it must have been public enoughfor the Pharisee whose house Jesus was dining at to know. When Jesus came to eat with the Pharisee, this womanbegan washing Jesus’s feet with a jar of perfume. The Pharisee was appalledthat Jesus would let her touch his feet. But Jesus told the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Readthe story in Luke 7:36-50 Jesus ate with a tax collector. Tax collectorshave never been popular, and the first century was no exception. So when Jesus wentto Levi’s house to eat, and he ate with tax collectors,it causedquite a stir. It didn’t phase Jesus, though. His response? "I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” Readthe story in Mark 2:13-17 Jesus toucheda bleeding woman. In the Jewishtradition, the bleeding woman would have been unclean. Since she had been bleeding for twelve years, she would have been regardedas unclean. Yet when Jesus noticedthat this unclean woman touched his robe, he responded with kindness rather than derision. Readthe story in Mark 5:25-34 Jesus spoke to a demon possessedman. Nobody knew what to do with the demon possessedman who wondered along the Lake of Galilee. People had tried to chain him, but it didn’t work. Jesus
  • 51. spoke to him, castout the demon and told him, "Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.” Readthe story in Mark 5:1-20 Jesus drank waterfrom the womanat the well. In the time of Jesus, JewsavoidedSamaritans. In fact, they didn’t even use the same utensils. That’s why it was a big deal when Jesus did not ignore the Samaritan womanat the well. He engagedher in conversation, usedher cup to drink waterand offeredhimself as living water. Readthe story in John 4:1-41 5 Ways Jesus DealtWith Difficult People PRODIGALSON Domaine Public Share 1k Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble | Jun 24, 2020 Jesus askedquestions, was not defensive, and knew when to ignore something. How should we deal with difficult people? Some people in our lives may be difficult simply because theychallenge us. Or they may be difficult because they are different. Or they may be difficult because we live with them (and close proximity amplifies foibles). Or they may be difficult because we are difficult and something about us just rubs them the wrong way. Or they may just be difficult.
  • 52. Regardless, we canlearn to acceptthe inconvenient, the incongruent and the bothersome (people and events)in our life not just as necessarynuisances but as gifts. Readmore: How to deal with “toxic” people, charitably and successfully, in 3 steps Heather King writes: [W]hen we are open and receptive to all the world has to offer, and all the world has to teachus, then everything becomes illuminated from within.Then we see that everything is, or canbe, connectedto our quest for beauty and order. Everything “belongs”:old dolls, decrepit diaries, discarded buttons. Difficult people. Seeing difficult people in such a positive light seems like a tall order. But we can start by learning to deal with other people in a Christ-like way. Scripture teaches us some ways that Jesus dealtwith difficult people: 1.- Jesus asksquestions. In Chapter 12 of Luke, Jesus is askedto settle a family dispute and basically responds, “Who do you think I am, Judge Judy?” (right, this is a pretty loose translation, but you getthe idea). It is interesting to note that Jesus asksa lot of questions in Scripture. Jesus’questions were sometimes rhetorical, or challenging, and at other times he was also seeking feedback. Byusing questions, Jesus emphasizes his openness to the other person.
  • 53. It is funny, but we humans tend not to ask a lot of questions. We assume, we pontificate, we lecture, we observe, we interrupt and we judge. But we rarely make it a point to ask other people questions. In using questions frequently, I think Jesus is modeling the behavior of a goodcommunicator, one who cares about the other person enough to engage withthem and challenge them. Even, and perhaps especially, whenthey are being difficult. 2.-Jesus Is NeverCornered. In Chapter 6 of Luke, Jesus is taking a Sabbath stroll with his disciples and the Phariseespop up out of nowhere and accuse them of breaking the Sabbath by picking grain. Jesus is unflustered. He is never scaredof the people who try to slip him up or think the worst of him, because whatother people think is not his focus. Sometimes people corner us with their assumptions and judgments and we can begin to wonder if the waythey see us is more objective than how we see ourselves. It is hard when we feel like others misunderstand us or do not take the time to getto know us before judging. But, like Jesus, we do not have to feel defined by the projections of other people. Our identity resides and is found in God, not in what other people try to push on us. 3.- Jesus Knows When to Ignore. Remember that time when Jesus ticks offall of his former neighbors and friends in his hometown of Nazareth? They are so workedup that they decide to throw him off a cliff. Jesus, seeing thatthere is no reasoning with these people, walks through the crowd, ignores their rage, and “went on his way” (Luke 4).
  • 54. Sometimes difficult people throw tantrums, speak harshly or treat us in an abusive way (this happens online all the time). This is the cue to disengage and walk away. Jesus knew how to keephis blood pressure in check and his eyes on the prize. Of course, if we have to deal assertivelywith someone who does this in person, a face-to-face discussionmight help. Later. 4.- Jesus Is Not Defensive. In Chapter 10 of Mark, James and John basicallysay to Jesus:“We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Wow. Talk aboutoverstepping boundaries! But Jesus is not codependent, so neediness and boundary crossing is not threatening to him. He knows when to say no and when to say yes and does not beat himself up when he doesn’t make other people happy. Sometimes people can demand more from us than what we can give them. They may try to swayus with guilt trips. Before we know it we find ourselves bending over backwardtrying to satisfy a needy or aggressive person(who is rarely satisfied!). But Jesus does not try to people please. Jesus does notneed to protect himself from other people; God’s will is enough security. This is where his non-defensiveness comes from. 5.- Jesus Is Flexible. In Matthew 15, a Canaanite womandemands that Jesus healhis daughter and Jesus says no. But then he is moved by the woman’s response of faith and heals her daughter. Jesus approachesothers with an open mind. Even when he had preconceivednotions, he allowedthe Spirit to move him. When a difficult person approaches us, we may think, Oh great, here we go again, or I know how this will go, but Jesus kept an open mind when he was approachedby others. You never know. The Spirit may move you, or the
  • 55. person who is normally difficult, to actin a different, unexpected way. Being closedto others closes us to the Holy Spirit who is working in us and in the other person. Jesus, help me see you in everyone, even the people who challenge me. Light me up with your radiant love so that I may see you even in the most difficult of people. Every human being is made in your image. Help me to recognize you and love you in them. SisterTheresa Aletheia Noble, FSP,is the author of The ProdigalYou Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church. Jesus, Religion, andPolitics Discovering Jesus:Part2 Jirair Tashjian Introduction In Part 1 we beganlooking at Jesus of Nazareth, with an emphasis on the human Jesus. We concludedwith his baptism by John and consideredthe possibility that Jesus at one point may have been a disciple of John. Then we lookedat the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness and the meaning of those temptations. The lasttemptation in Matthew (in Luke the secondand third temptations are in reverse order) tells us how the devil showedJesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor and said to him, "All these I’ll give you if you’ll fall
  • 56. down and worship me" (Matt 4:9). This provides us an opportunity to explore another dimension of the temptations in relation to the humanity of Jesus. We are told that in this lasttemptation the devil had takenJesus to "a very high mountain and showedhim all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor" (Matt 4:8). What does that mean? There is no mountain high enough in Palestine, oranywhere in the world for that matter, where a person can literally see allthe kingdoms of the world. How can one see Rome and Athens and Damascus and Egypt from a mountain in Palestine? That simply suggeststhat we need to considerthe conceptof mountain in Matthew in terms of what the Gospelwriter wanted to sayrather than how we might want to hear it. Matthew, in fact, is fond of mountains. In Hebrew thinking mountains are the place where significantthings happen. God gave the Law to Moses onMount Sinai (Exod 19-20). Elijahhad a confrontation with the prophets of Baalon Mount Carmel where God came (1 Kings 18). In Matthew we see Jesus going up on a mountain and teaching the Sermon on the Mount to bring fulfillment to the Law given at Mount Sinai (Matt 5:1 ff). In the final chapter of Matthew (28) after his resurrection, Jesus meets with his disciples on a mountain in Galilee and commissions them to go and make disciples of all nations. All that to saythis, that the word "mountain" in Matthew is intended to be takennot in a strict literal sense but in a metaphoricalsense. Matthew is using the conceptof mountain from its history in Old Testamentnarratives as a way to focus attention on the significance ofthe temptation narrative in understanding Jesus. Thatsuggeststhat the entire story of the temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4 is to be taken figuratively. It is not that the temptations are not "real," only that the way Matthew tells them to us in the Gospel accountis couchedin metaphor. Jesus was not literally whiskedaround from the top of the temple to the top of some mountain. Jesus was tempted the way you and I are tempted, that is, in our minds and hearts rather than by a physically visible form of the devil transporting Jesus from place to place in
  • 57. some sort of a Star Trek beam-up and beam-down. The physical descriptions are the way Matthew tells us about the internal struggle that Jesus was going through in the temptations. In a sense, temptation is much more subtle and therefore a lot tougher to deal with when it is something going on in our minds and thoughts than if there is a physical being out there that we can see and identify as the devil. One of the greatestfears of Vietnam veterans was that they could never be sure who the enemy was. We could deal with the enemy if he were standing right there and you could identify him. Then maybe we could punch him in the nose, or pull a swordand split him in two. But if the enemy is not made up of a nose and a face and two arms and two legs, how does one fight him? We’ve probably all heard the expression, "Give the devil a black eye." While it is nice sounding rhetoric, there are two things wrong with it. First, the devil doesn’t have an eye that you can punch. Secondly, even if it’s taken metaphorically, that kind of language is borrowed from the world of street gangs and neighborhood bullies who go around punching people in the face. Jesus did resisttemptation. But how? He resistedit with the word of God. That doesn’t mean that he just quoted words from the Bible, but that he shaped his whole life and mindset by the will of God revealedin Scripture. Modern Conceptions ofPolitics That third temptation is really where I want to focus this secondstudy. The fact that Jesus was tempted with the kingdoms of the world and their splendor implies that there are some political issues involved here. Jesus, of course, did resistthat temptation, but that does not mean that his messagewas to be purely spiritual with no political overtones. The messageofJesus was not politically neutral.
  • 58. Some of us may be uncomfortable to think of Jesus as being political. That’s because the word "politics" or"political" has come to have very negative overtones. It means wheeling and dealing, scheming, compromising, insincerity, telling half-truths, fighting for power, jockeying for position, slandering, mud-slinging, corruption, and on and on. Now, I know that not all politicians are that way. Unfortunately, our experience of politics in many instances has been negative. And if that is our definition of politics, then, no, Jesus was not political. So I need to define what I mean when I saythe messageofJesus was political. But before I do that, let’s considersomething else. We as a church and as Christians believe that our primary task is to preach the gospel, to lead people into a mature relationship with God, and nurture them spiritually. We come togetherto worship the Lord, study his Word, are inspired and uplifted, have our spiritual needs met, have fellowshipwith one another, and occasionally, if we become aware of it, help with the material needs of individuals in our congregationor occasionallyoutside people. Our job description as a church does not include the political process, whichis the waya societyconducts its public affairs. In other words, we don’t feelthat it’s our job as a church to do something about the world out there except to get people converted to Christ. Such problems as socialinjustice, discrimination, inner city problems, crime, poverty, and so on are left up to politicians to solve. In fact, we shy away from such involvement because it might move us in the direction of what we have identified as the socialgospel. We think that perhaps individual Christians can getinvolved in politics to help shape the world. Or, we as individual Christians can vote for certain candidates and issues. Butusually we think that the church as a church must remain politically neutral. So then, to say that the messageofJesus was political, which means that Jesus was not politically neutral, may require some explanation.
  • 59. Politics in First-century Palestine When I say that Jesus was notpolitically neutral, or that his messagewas political, I am recognizing something that is at the heart of the biblical messagein general, and especiallythe Old Testament, which was the Bible of Jesus. The Old Testamentdid not separate religionand politics. The Bible does not compartmentalize them. In fact, one of the most scathing denunciations from the Old Testamentprophets was againstpeople who did that very thing, separating religionand politics. I can give many examples from Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micahand others (Amos 2:6-8; 5:21-24;7:10-13; Isaiah1:11-17;Micah 6:6-8). But let me cite just one of the prophets (Amos 2:6-8 and 5:21-24): Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions ofIsrael, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because theysell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals-theywho trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and songo in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink wine bought with fines they imposed. I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Eventhough you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not acceptthem; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take awayfrom me the noise of your songs;I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. The problem with Israelwas not that they were not religious enough. The problem was that they were too religious, but did not translate their religiosity into a socialpolicyof justice. Their religiosity did not make a difference in the way they conductedtheir business, government, economic policies, and social
  • 60. relationships, particularly when it came to the orphan and the widow, the disadvantaged, the unfortunate. They took bribes, they imposed unfair fines, they foreclosedon debts without mercy. Amos says that God will bring judgment on the nation of Israelfor these injustices. Jesus was saying the same thing: "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin--you practice your religion very well--but you have neglectedthe weightiermatters of the law: justice and mercy and faith" (Matt 23:23). When Jesus startedtalking about justice, he was into politics. We can’t understand the Old Testamentor the messageof Jesus unless we recognize the fact that the God of the Bible is very much interestedin the kind of world we make for ourselves as human beings. God is passionatelyconcernedaboutthe world here and now. God becomes agitated when the poor, the orphan and the widow are oppressedand are treated unjustly. Let’s considerthe political situation of Palestine in the time of Jesus. Palestine was under Roman occupationand domination. Rome neededa greatdeal of revenue to carry on the affairs of the Empire. So the Romans had a policy of heavy taxation, which was very oppressive. People losttheir land because they could not pay taxes. Absentee landlords, people with a lot of capital, were able to acquire more and more land and turned these small plots of land, land upon which Palestine peasants dependedfor survival, into large operations intended for the export industry. People who lost their land became day laborers. It is in this context, for example, that Jesus told the parable of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16). Whenthe landowner askedthe workers in the market place why they had been standing idle all day, they responded that no on had hired them. The picture is dismal. Lots of workers, but not enough work to go around, therefore high unemployment. What were their options? The only option was to beg, which was the final stage before starvation and death.
  • 61. MostJewishpeople in the time of Jesus, including the Pharisees, the Zealots and the Essenes,had a very antagonistic attitude towardforeigners, especially the Romans who had seized the land by force. What right did the Romans have to take over their country? They, after all, were the people of God, and God had given them the land. To make things even worse, the Roman presence in Palestine did not benefit the Jewishpeople as a whole, and certainly not the ordinary person. It did benefit those who were in positions of political and economic power, rulers, governors, absentee landlords who exploited the situation for their benefit. The Roman government recruited Jewishpeople as tax collectors,and gave them the authority to collect whateverthey could beyond what the Roman regime imposed. They could then keepthe difference as income for themselves. Some ofthem, such as Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2-10), became wealthy at the expense of their fellow Jews. It is in such an environment that we must hear such statements of Jesus such as, "Woe to you who are rich, woe to you who are full, woe to you who laugh, woe to you when you are well spokenof" (Lk 6:24-26). Some Jewishpeople were more bitter than others, but everyone felt the awful injustice of it all. The Zealots were probably the most militant and aggressive, advocating and practicing guerrilla warfare againstthe Romans from time to time. But it would be wrong to think that only the Zealots were politically inclined. As noted already, Jews did not separate religionfrom politics. And neither did Jesus. He lookedat politics in a different way than the Zealots, but Jesus was notpolitically neutral or unconcerned. The Sadducees,on the other hand, were in a different situation than most other Jewishpeople. They were in control of religious and political power in Jerusalem. Theywere the priestly group at the temple. They did not like the Romans, but they cooperatedwith the Romans because it meant that as long as they were favorable towardRome, their position of controlof the temple was secure. So the Sadducees became the aristocratic class. Johnthe Baptist calledthe Sadducees andthe Pharisees,"Youbrood of vipers" (Matt 3:7).
  • 62. The Sadducees controlledthe Sanhedrin, the highestcouncil of Judaism that had powerto rule over religious as wellas civil cases. Jesus couldsee that their religiosity made no difference as far as economic, socialand political justice for the common folk. As long as they were secure in their position, why should they be too concernedwith the peasants and the poor folk in the country? So oppressioncame not only from the Romans. Even Jewish religious leaders were guilty of oppression. And, Jesus wouldsay, even religious leaders needed to repent. The Politics of Jesus Now let’s begin to look at the politics of Jesus more earnestly. A good place to begin might be Luke 13:1. Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Apparently, some Galileans had gone up to Jerusalemduring some feastand were offering sacrifices. These were times of volatile nationalistic feelings that could be ignited easily. Perhaps there was some sort of commotion and unrest. Pilate the governor must have ordered his soldiers to move in immediately to calm the situation. In doing so they must have massacredsome ofthe people. But notice how Jesus respondedto that report. He didn’t lash out at Pilate. It was not that Jesus thought Pilate was such a goodperson. Insteadof denouncing Pilate Jesus saidto the people who reported this incident, "Do you think that because these Galileans sufferedin this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did." We can almosthear their unspoken objections: "Whatdo you mean we repent? It’s Pilate and his whole Roman garrisonin Jerusalemthat needs repentance!" The politics of Jesus evenwent a step further. He said, "Love your enemies, do goodto those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offerthe other also;if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the secondmile" (Matt 5:39-41). It is not very difficult to put that in the context of Roman power in Palestine. Jesus