Jesus was tempted in every way.
As a young, single, anointed, rugged-looking, sought-after speaker, Jesus was faced with thousands of women who approached him.
For healing, for attention, to worship.
Some of them were beautiful. Some desperate. Others, interesting and engaging. And even one (who was known for her sexual sins) showered him with oil while kissing his feet.
I know it’s weird to think about it but Jesus could have slept with one of them. He could have forced himself. He was tempted to take advantage.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15
Fast forward two thousand years later and we’re reading about Bill Cosby and the multiple allegations of sexual abuse by different women.
And as unfortunate as it is to even write this, there are many similar cases of pastors who have used their charisma and power to seduce and abuse and rape. Because gifting is good-looking. The anointing is an attractive thing.
But Jesus used it differently.
The earthly ministry of Jesus was supported by women. These successful ladies made more money than Jesus and his 12 apostles. And they were the ones who provided the finances for their food and travels.
Jesus had zero issues with that. He had no macho pride to hinder it. Actually, they are the only supporters mentioned by name. These incredible women did not merely write a check to cover the expenses. They also served meals, preached the good news, healed the sick and accompanied Jesus as he moved from town to town.
And they stayed faithful to the end.
But there is a lie that still runs through the veins of male-dominated-Christianity, “Men are more powerful and God has given them control.”
It’s not a new deception.
In the times of Jesus, Jewish rabbis comfortably began every temple meeting with the words, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, for thou has not made me a woman.” #Yikes
However, the perfect teacher took a different approach.
Completely different approach.
We read the Bible without realising that addressing women directly, and in public, was extremely unusual for a Rabbi to do. “For women and other oppressed people, Jesus turned upside down the accepted wisdom of his day. He violated the mores of his time in every single encounter with women recorded in the four Gospels.” – Philip Yancey in Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?
When the woman broke perfume over his feet and washed them with her hair, or the woman with the issue of blood touched his robe, or he took the hand of the dead daughter of Jairus, or Mary sat at his feet listening to his teaching, whenever those multiple occasions happened, they defied all the normal rules of that society.
He even saved a woman from being stoned. Literally stepping in to stop male “justified” abuse.
With his ministry, Jesus taught that women were equal to men in God’s eyes. That they could receive forgiveness and grace. That they could be among Christ’s personal followers. Full participants in the kingdom of God. And these ideas were revolutionary!
They continue to be.
Sometimes male leaders in the church fight hard to push for the “guidelines” set by the Apostle Paul concerning women. Yet at the same time they ignore the incredible legacy Jesus left for the role of a woman with authority in the ministry.
Paul himself made the most stunning invitation to us (the male husband) to, “Love your wives as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for her.” Which is the highest standard and the greatest sacrifice, and the main verse we men need to focus on.
I want to become a man who believes in the destiny of the women around me and who works hard to protect them from the traditions and the people who would hold them back.
“The church should be the safest, freest, and most empowering place for women. But the fact remains that the patriarchal paradigm still exists in the church.” – Danny Silk from Powerful And Free: Confronting The Glass Ceiling For Women In The Church
It is ironic that with the low status of women in his day, “the first Christian preachers of the Resurrection were not men, but women.” Jesus did not appear first to Peter, or even the beloved disciple John. He appeared first to Mary, and the women who followed him and served him.
Mary who saw him first, became the first person ever to let other people know, “He is alive!” – The ultimate message of Christianity.
The first apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor, evangelist, of the New Covenant.
I believe Jesus deliberately appeared to Mary first. He was sending the church a message spoken through actions not just words. And he is sending the message still today.
I have five strong and beautiful sisters. I was raised by a funny, God-fearing, hard-working mother. My best friend in the world, and wife of 10 years, is a gorgeous English lady. I have been surrounded by powerful women pastors my whole life. And I am grateful to God for their tenacity and example.
Because the image of God is incomplete without their compassion, their strength, and their radiance.
The heart of Christ is not only the heart of a man but has in it also the tenderness and gentleness of a woman. Jesus was not a man in the rigid sense of manhood as distinct from womanhood, but, as the Son of Man, the complete Head of Humanity. -Albert Benjamin Simpson
What Bill Cosby has done is a nasty symptom of a core reality that is still pulsating through media, entertainment, politics and the church.
It is time to recognize the temptation to use and abuse; the desire to control and dominate. Let this become the opportunity for us men to learn from the perfect one (who defeated those temptation) in order to become the Champion Savior of all women and men.
But we need to start showing grace for the victim, the hurting, the innocent.
It starts with abusers owning their abuse. It moves to the victims walking in radical forgiveness. It ends with the Church not hiding its weakness.
Yes, I pray for Bill and his family. I pray for his victims and their healing. And I pray for myself and mine.
The standard is Christ. He cares about women’s fair wages. He is committed to their honor in leadership. He has given them a platform of influence and transformation.
And our homes and churches need to be the safest (most empowering) place for all of them.