I love to read. I have loved to read for as long as I have known how to read. Sometimes I read to learn, sometimes to enjoy, and sometimes hoping something within me is stirred and changed. I unexpectedly came upon a book that did the latter. I started reading "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes" by Kenneth Bailey hoping to gain a better intellectual understanding of how Jesus viewed and interacted with women. What I did not expect was that through this book my love for Jesus would be expanded and enlightened as I became a spectator to his interactions with women in the scriptures.
Unfortunately, as a Westerner, I have grown up to read and understand scripture through a lens that is very well...Western. I honestly love the West. I love the freedom that has been fought for and established in Western countries. I love that(as a woman) I can write a blog and express anything I want to say because of this freedom. However, I often forget that Jesus was not a Westerner and the culture he lived in was nothing close to the Western culture I take for granted every day.
That is why this book has been so eye opening for me. I started in the middle of the book where he explores some of Jesus meetings with women. Jesus ushered in a radical new view of women that was in direct contrast of the view of women of his day. The book starts with his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well.(John 4:1-42) Jewish men didn't even interact with other Jewish women they didn't know, much less a Samaritan half-breed, woman who had been married many times and was currently living with a man...radical, appalling!!) Jesus saw her and spoke to her need and she left a changed woman. Then there is the Canaanite woman of great faith,(Matthew 15:21-28), the woman caught in adultery(John 7:53-8:11), the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and anointed his feet with ointment(Luke 7:36-50). Jesus challenged men in their view of these women and in doing so helped seal his fate of taking the punishment for these women. Many of their lifestyles and reputations demanded punishment or excluded them in some way. Jesus, however, would not allow this so in speaking for them, he ultimately ended up taking their place and their punishment. AWESOME! There is no way I could go into everything that is said in the book about women(and that would be plagiarism ;0 ), so I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone who follows Jesus, is curious about Jesus, or doesn't understand Jesus. I think it will rock your world, it has rocked mine.
Along with learning and trying to absorb all this, I am also very aware of how many women in the world today are so far from knowing these truths. They have never seen it, experienced it, or even tasted it. Check out these pictures:
I don't think Jesus has been teaching me all this just to feel better about myself or be happy that he loves me so much. Those things do happen of course, but I think there is more. I think his kingdom is much, much bigger than me.
I keep trying to imagine if I could speak directly with Jesus, what he would say about this. What would he say about these women? I think he would have much to say and I think he would have different things to say to each of us about our response to this and what our role is. Maybe it is advocacy, adoption, education, moving to these countries, prayer..... ect. As we get ready to move to India, I am praying God would answer my questions about my role and my response to this.
Sometimes when we see pictures like this or read things like this we can be overcome with guilt of how easy our lives are. My point is not in any way to say we should respond out of duty or guilt or with some crazy thought that we can repay God for what he has done for us, that would be impossible. Instead, I feel that God has been nudging me and reminding me of who he is and what he has done and it is out of this joy and thankfulness that I am moved to respond.
May we bravely and boldly(even when we feel scared) embrace the role God has for us in this great story of restoration and hope for men and women throughout the world.