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Jesus -- the Guru #31

B. Attitude toward Women

Another area where Jesus had conflict with the religious authorities of His day was His attitude toward women. Once again, the leaders had made up religious

rules to put people down, make them feel inferior, and control them. If men could keep women feeling powerless and unworthy, they could control and use them. Jesus opposed this attitude.

Read Matthew 9:20-22, 15:21-28, 19:1-9

9:20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.21She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

In 9:20-22, Jesus not only frees the woman from her illness, but also from her social oppression. Women were considered unclean whenever they released blood. Why should they be made to feel unworthy for something that is only natural and unavoidable for a woman?

This woman had endured such social rejection not just monthly but daily for 12 years. She boldly and defiantly goes into the public to find Jesus. She touches Jesus’ cloak, making Him ritually unclean. Jesus rejects such oppression. He rejoices at her courage. He praises her faith. Instead of condemning her for her insolence, He sets her up before everyone as an example!

The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

15:21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

27“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

In 15:21-28, we see Jesus encounter another bold woman. We see Jesus teaching His disciples in a dramatic fashion. Jesus senses the character of this woman and uses her to teach His disciples about two religious prejudices of His day, one against women and the other against “outsiders.” We will come back to this passage later when we talk about Jesus attitude toward “outsiders.”

Once again, Jesus praises a woman for her courage and faith. Jesus makes her an example. In popular Jewish practice, women were to have nothing to do with religion. Men were to be the religious authorities, to study and interpret the Scriptures. What is Jesus’ attitude toward women?

Even today, bold, strong women are often resented. But Jesus needs such people to be salt and light and workers for righteousness in God’s Kingdom. Jesus doesn’t care what a person’s sex is.

The religious leaders didn’t want the suppressed to rise up. They became Jesus’ enemies.

Have you seen women put down because of religious rules and social customs? Do you agree with Jesus’ respect for women and their role as His courageous disciples?



19:1When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan.2Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ?6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

7“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

In 19:1-9, Jesus once again opposed oppressive religious rules. The Pharisees could see how Jesus was attacking them, and they brought up the topic of divorce (v. 3). Their rule was that a man could divorce his wife anytime he was dissatisfied with her, without giving any reason or cause. The husband could just send her out into the street. The woman would be disgraced, a shame to her family, and destitute. Many ended up in prostitution just to feed themselves. What is Jesus’ response to such rules that control and exploit women?

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