Have You Seen this Man? Part 2

February 17, 2014
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I often try to imagine what it might have been like to see Jesus in the flesh back when he walked this earth — to look into his face, to feel his smile directed toward me, to speak to him, to hear him teach, laugh, actually speak to me.

I know he was fully a man, but I wonder how different he seemed from other men—other kind and good men of his day. I know for sure that he was different from many of the religious leaders and teachers in his culture, and that’s why so many women followed Jesus throughout his ministry.

His authoritative teaching and healing power drew crowds of people, both men and women, but some things about Jesus probably seemed especially meaningful to women. I wrote about two of these characteristics in my previous post.

Women saw a man who saw them.

and

They saw a man who respected what they had to give.

 

Now, I’ll tell you more…

They saw a man who defended their unique expressions of worship.

Probably, there are some differences between the way most women express worship and the way most men do. I hate to stereotype, so I’m hedging my words here.  [And I’m trying really hard not to make a snarky comment about the megachurch preacher who has complained about contemporary Christian music being too feminine.]

In the gospels, however, you never find men expressing their adoration of Jesus the way some of the women did. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was the queen of passionate worship. The first time we meet her in Luke 10, she is behaving quite nontraditionally, sitting at the feet of a rabbi in a room full of men. When her sister Martha complained about needing help in the kitchen, Jesus defended Mary’s choice.

Later, at a second family dinner, Mary knelt beside Jesus, emptied an alabaster jar of expensive perfume on him, and wiped his feet with her hair.

This extravagant gesture made no sense to Judas or the other disciples around the table, and they went through the roof. What a monumental waste, they told her.  “That perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages and given to the poor” (John 12).

Once again, Jesus – smelling like a perfume factory at this point – came to her defense.

“Leave her alone.”

“She did a beautiful thing for me—more than even she realizes.”

“People are going to be talking about her response wherever the gospel is told.”

The sinful woman of Luke 7 fits here too. She had been forgiven much, so she showed her love by bathing the feet of Jesus in perfume, kisses and tears. Her adoration was also criticized, and Jesus was quick to let Simon know that between the two of them, the sinful woman (probably a prostitute) came off better in God’s eyes.

They saw a man who forgave them without condemning them first.

The Gospels reveal the sexual misconduct of three of the women Jesus encountered, even though nothing is said of the sexual history of any man he met.

There was a woman caught having an adulteress liaison, a woman with a history of multiple marriages who was currently cohabiting with a man, and a “sinful” woman who had most likely been a prostitute.

The Gospels make a point not only of reporting the very public nature of these women’s sexual circumstances, but also of describing Jesus’ response to them.

Remember that the Pharisees considered sexual sin unforgivable and always the fault of the morally inferior “seductress.” You can imagine their dismay when Jesus cannily shielded an adulteress woman from their condemnation. Or when he commended the prostitute’s love and faith at Simon’s dinner party? (He actually told the Pharisees one time that prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of them! Matt. 12:31-32)

Jesus protected the woman caught in adultery from harm and the sinful woman weeping at his feet from the cruelty of Simon’s self-righteousness.

He did not scold, shame, or rebuke any of the three. He released them even from God’s condemnation, offered them living water, and accepted their adoration. The Good News of God’s grace was played out in living color to illustrate the words that are so hard to believe:

“If God is for us, then who can be against us?… Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died… is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:31-34)

Have you seen this man?

Have you seen this compassionate Gentle Savior? This divine son of God who came to show us the face of the Father?

Who notices you,

your tears,

your need, and

your acts of faith

—even those meager expressions when you’re barely holding on?

  • Who sees not only your gender but what you have to offer?
  • Who is on your side?
  • Who has forgiveness free for the asking – no scathing reproof included?

I hope you have. I hope you do. I hope you feel his smile on you. I hope you truly feel the love and mercy and compassion he has for you and your life circumstances.

He was God in the flesh, acting as God, showing us who God is and how he feels about his children.

Maybe the harder question is, Can you become like this man?

Can you see the women in your life the way Jesus sees them?

Treat them the way Jesus treats you?

Love them with compassion and mercy as Jesus does?

We women can be hard on each other sometimes. We judge each other harshly. We are critical and territorial and competitive. We hurt each other and get too wrapped up in ourselves.

As disciples, followers, worshippers, SISTERS of Jesus, however, we are called

  • To be the face of Jesus.
  • The expression of Jesus,
  • The tone of voice of Jesus.

When the women of our world look at us, let’s make sure it’s Jesus they see!

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