What Does A Woman Gotta Have?
It has been observed that there are three foundational needs that each one of us has in order for us to be healthy and able to grow as a person and as a Believer in God. The first is a need to belong. We all need to know and feel that we are wanted, accepted, cared for and enjoyed for who we are. Second, there is the need to feel worthy. We all need to be able to say with confidence, “I’m a sinner, but I’m saved by grace. I’m valued and I count.” We feel worthy when we know we count and are valued to others and to God. We don’t need to keep striving in order to feel worthy. God declares us to be of value and each individual is a divine original. We are the creative expression of a loving God. Third, there is the need to feel competent. We need to know that we can do something, give something, contribute, and make a difference. All of these needs are evidenced in the way that Jesus dealt with women in the New Testament.
The question before us then is “How does Jesus minister to women?” The most striking thing about the role of women in the life and teaching of Jesus is a simple fact that they are there. He ministered to women and treated each one as a person.
A Very Unique Man
With great insight, Dorothy Sayers said about Jesus: “They [women] had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such a person. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized…who took their questions and arguments seriously; never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious.” Both in his teaching and in his activities, Jesus reached out to women as persons who were equally worthy as men.
Jesus Treated Women With Respect
We see in the gospels that Jesus treated women with incredible respect. A classic passage in this regard is Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman. This is a remarkable exchange since Jesus was not only interacting with a Samaritan, a member of a race that was despised by Jews, but also a woman. And Jesus’ conversation with this woman is probably the most profound discussion of theology in the gospels. Women were not encouraged to have interaction with male strangers.
But Jesus went beyond the cultural ethnic and gender barriers and treated her as a person who was worth his offer of the living water of eternal life. He didn’t treat her in reference to what others said about her, her accomplishments or possessions, and he didn’t deal with her based on her appearance. He establishes through this woman that whoever accepts his offer of living water, that person will receive life. The woman saw the barrier as ethnic, whereas the disciples returned and made an issue of gender. But for Jesus, gender and ethnicity are irrelevant in his offer of saving grace.
When Doing Everything Right Seems Wrong
She comes to the well at noonday, the hottest hour of the day, which whispers a rumor of her reputation. The other women come at dusk, a cooler, more comfortable hour. They came not only to draw water but to take off their veils and slip out from under the thumb of a male-dominated society. They came for companionship, to talk, to laugh, and to gossip—much of which centers around this woman. So shunned by these women, she braves the sun’s scorn. Accusing thoughts are her only companions as she ponders the futile road her life has traveled. She’s looked for love in all the wrong places, going from one dead-end relationship to another. For her, marriage has been a retreating mirage. Again and again, she has returned to the matrimonial well (5 times to be exact), hoping to draw from it something to quench her thirst for love and happiness. But again and again, she has left that well disappointed.
A Woman With an Empty Life
And so, under the weight of such thoughts, she comes to Jacob’s well, her empty water jar, a telling symbol of her ‘empty’ life. As her eyes meet the Savior’s, He sees within her a cavernous aching, a cistern in her soul that will forever remain empty unless He fills it. And there she meets Jesus.
This encounter shows to all women that regardless of past mistakes, hurt, pain, and failures Jesus wants to fill women with his love because women are people whom He values. Every woman is created in His Image and Likeness. Every woman is a daughter of Eve, and he offers the greatest compliment ever; unconditional love, cleansing, forgiveness, hope, meaning, significance, and a life of power and purpose.