Posts Tagged ‘women’

Luke 3:25-38 — Oh here we go again, you might say to yourself, when you read this passage. Another biblical genealogy. The Old Testament frequently gives us these genealogies. But, this time it’s in the New Testament. Why does Luke wait til three and half chapters into his book to give us this genealogy and why does he give it to us at all?

You know, as I do these daily devotionals as we walk through entire books of the Bible, before I write what’s on my heart, I typically do a little research just to make sure that what’s on my heart is true to the meaning of the passage that I am writing about. Usually, there is a wealth of research out there online to rely upon. However, today, I find very little on this passage. It is a genealogy after all. Even the most avid readers of the Bible will admit to skipping over genealogies in the Bible. Long lines of who begat who with names that are difficult to pronounce. We often either skip through the begatting and move on to the next passage that to us has some meat to it. However, this is the Word of God, and if you are walking through entire books of the Bible, like we do here, then you have to deal with the tough passages. That’s where we are today. This is the Word of God and we must deal with it. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is God-breath and is useful for instruction. So, there is a point to these genealogies in the Bible and we must figure out what this genealogy in Luke 3 is teaching us.

First, it is interesting that the genealogy here is traced down through Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary. In a society that had a very low view of the legal status of women, it is almost radical that Luke would trace Jesus’ genealogy through his mother. Luke is admitting that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. Tracing his lineage through Joseph would be one of adoption rather than biology. However, the genealogy is biological through Mary. She physically gave birth to Jesus. As you see throughout Luke, he gives numerous mentions of women. As he researched his gospel, he found that Jesus himself elevated the stature of women and they played prominent roles in his ministry. Luke, as a physician, saw women as equals with men. To him, there was nothing in particular about men that gave them greater stature in the world. Thus, it is not surprising that Luke had the revolutionary idea of listing this genealogy as traced through Jesus’ mother rather than the normal way of tracing genealogies through fathers. To those who think that the Bible puts down women, just continue reading the gospel of Luke. Here, you will find that in Jesus’ ministry, women were important. They found more freedom and worth in the Jesus movement than in society in general. So, let no one tell you that Christianity oppresses women. They have played central roles in the faith from the beginning.

The second thing that is interesting here in this genealogy is the difference and similarities between it and the genealogy of Matthew 1. Matthew was writing for a mainly Jewish audience and his intent and purpose was to show the Jews that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. His genealogy’s purpose was to show Jesus’ Jewishness. He wanted to prove that Jesus was of royal descent and was fulfillment of the promises made to David. He need go no further then with his genealogy than back to David. Here, with Luke, you can see the difference. Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy to David and then goes on all the way back to Adam. Why did he do this? Luke wrote to a mainly non-Jewish Greek audience. The point in the genealogy is that Jesus was for everyone not just the Jews. He traced Jesus back to the first man — the one from whom all people were physically fathered. In this subtlety, Luke is allowing his readers to identify with Jesus not as someone from that highly religious and quirky people called the Jews but as everyman Jesus, everyday Jesus. Jesus is all inclusive. No one is excluded from His grace. The only requirement is that you have a pulse and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for your sins. Grace knows no race. Grace knows no national origin. Grace knows no gender. Grace knows no ethnicity. Grace is available to all through Jesus Christ. It does not matter who you are or where you’re from, Jesus has enough grace for you. That’s what this genealogy does. It confirms the message that Jesus is for every man, woman, and child. He is not the exclusive realm of a certain few.

The final thing that this passage tells us is that Jesus was real. He had family roots here on earth. Reading this genealogy you find that Mary came from a long line of the “Who’s Who” from the Bible. This is the family into which Jesus was born. It means that He was real. He was a member of a family. He probably celebrated birthdays, weddings, and other family events. He also probably wept at funerals of members of His extended earthly family who had passed away. He existed in family life for 30 years before He began His ministry. He knows of family life. He knows of the human existence in a fallen world. We know that Jesus existed in history because of the extrabiblical references to his ministry. But, this genealogy tells us that Jesus was not only a real guy that made his mark on human history but we know that He was part of a family. He knows of human existence. He knows family. Thus, He knows you. God was careful to show these names of these people who are part of Jesus’ family as a reminder to us that everyone has a name and every name is important. Jesus knows you. Jesus knows your hurts, habits and hangups. Jesus knows what you are going through. He just wants you to come to Him and ask Him to be your Savior so that your name came be added to Jesus’ family genealogy. He wants you to have your name listed in His book of life. He wants you to be part of His family. He wants you to be co-heirs of the Father’s promises with Him. He wants you in His genealogy.

Father, thank you for sending Jesus into the world through the womb of Mary. Jesus understands the human existence. He was part of a human family. His genealogy proves that He had a human existence and that He knows of the dangers, toils, and snares of human life. This passage also tells me too that Jesus is not the exclusive club that some may make Him out to be, He is for everyone. His grace extends to all. Thank you Father for showing us through this simple often overlooked way, a genealogy. Thank you for showing us that women are just as important to you as men are. It also validates that Jesus is for everyone. His grace extends to all. Thank you Father for sending your Son to be grace for all. All we have to do is believe on His Name. Amen.

Luke 2:25-35 — Simeon’s Song. There are several things we must understand about this passage that are significant to our faith. First, today, let us not forget where this meeting between Simeon and Jesus’ parents takes place. Second, Wednesday, we will think on Simeon’s Song itself, Finally, on Thursday, we must consider Simeon’s warning to Mary.

First, let’s think on where this meeting took place. We must remember that in the Temple, there was progressively restrictive access to the inner parts of the Temple. First, there was the Court of the Gentiles, where God-fearing non-Jews could worship the Lord. Next, there was the Court of Women. Jewish women could proceed past the Court of the Gentiles into the Court of Women where they could worship the Lord. Finally, past that point, only Jewish men could pass into the Court of Israel. It and was part of the sacred inner court of the Temple. It was a rectangular area that was just inside the eastern wall of the sacred Temple court. It covered half the area from the eastern wall and the Great Altar, and it was slightly lower in elevation than the Priest’s Court to its west, where the offerings were made.

It is significant that this meeting occurred at the Temple. It was where God’s presence dwelled. Three parts of the Trinity come together here. God, the Father, is in His dwelling place. God, the Son, is being brought to the center of worship. Jesus was always obedient to the Father throughout His life on earth. In His earthly function as the Son, He is always seeking to please the Father. Here, we see Him being brought to the Father to be dedicated to His service to the Father. The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and reveals to him that He is in the presence of the Son. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the other two parts of the Trinity, the Father and the Son. Here, as in Jesus’ baptism, we see the convergence of the three parts of the Trinity. Thus, this is a significant event. Jesus’ parents are bringing Him to dedicate Him, as the firstborn son, to God’s service as any Jewish firstborn male had done by any righteousness-seeking parents would do. As Jesus would later state, He came to fulfill the law not abolish it. He was the fulfillment of the law. He was the culmination of the law. The law points us toward Him and our need for Him. It is the beauty that He observed the very same law of which He was the fulfillment. This moment, thus, is so significant that all three parts of the Trinity are present. All of this sounds pretty high brow theological doesn’t it? It is in a way. But what does it mean to us? Let us remember that from birth Jesus was dedicated to God’s glory. You repeatedly see throughout the gospels that Jesus’ main aim in everything He did was to glorify God. His earthly parents were righteous people were obedient to the Lord because they wanted the same thing – to glorify the Lord. For us, let us model this Holy Family’s ideal. Let us measure everything we do by whether it brings glory to the Lord. May we seek to be in His presence, in His will always. Just as Mary and Joseph are in the presence of the Trinity at this moment, may we seek the same by seeking to honor God in everything we do. Mary & Joseph were devout in keeping the Word of God at the center and as the reason for their actions. Let us be the same and it is there that we will find the presence of the Lord.

Not only should we notice that this meeting took place in the Temple but we must notice where in the Temple this meeting takes place. The fact that Mary is still in the scene is significant. She was not allowed in the inner part of the Temple. She was a woman. She would have had to stop in the Court of Women. It should not be lost on us where this meeting takes place then. Mary is still present. This means that this meeting either took place in the Court of the Gentile or at the farthest in the Court of Women. This, to me, is the signal to the readers of Luke that Jesus was not here just for the pious Jewish man. He was here for all people including women. Luke’s gospel often stresses the importance of women in Jesus’ ministry and the fact that Jesus was here for the Gentiles as much as the Jews. Jesus is not exclusive. He is for all. Jews, Gentiles, women, men. He is accessible and available to all. He offers salvation to all, not just those who have certain pedigrees or gender. He is here for the entire world. You don’t have to be born the child of a church member. You don’t have to born in a certain part of town. You don’t have to be a member of a country club. There is no one more deserving than another of God’s grace given us in the person of Jesus Christ. He is in the inner Temple. He is in the Court of Women. He is in the Court of the Gentiles. He is the Savior of the World.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Blessed Trinity. We seek Your presence Lord. Help us to glorify you by obeying your Word, by seeking to please you in everything that we do, by seeking your presence in our lives. In so doing may we learn that no matter who we are or what we have done, You gave us grace in in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the World. All we have to do is seek Him, want Him to rule over our lives, and seek to please Him in everything we do just as when He was here on earth that He sought daily to be an obedient Son. May we remember too that the grace we enjoy is grace for all so that we will share the Good News with all. Jesus came for us all. Amen.

Romans 16:1-16 — Women. Women. Women. OK, guys, now that I have your attention. Let us as men and women read on. In this passage, we find a who’s who list of early Christians. This passage though it seems like just a list of greetings tell us several important things about the early Christian church that we must remember today.

This passage teaches us, first, that just because a Christian woman is submissive to her husband does not mean that she cannot play important roles in the church and its work. We will look at this point today. Tomorrow (Saturday), we will look at husbands and wives as Christian teammates. Finally on Sunday, we will look at the mobility of the early church and what it compels us to be today.

First, there is Phoebe. She is mentioned first in this passage, Paul’s greetings. Some biblical scholars conjecture that since she was mentioned first here that she was the one who delivered this letter, now called the Book of Romans, from Paul to the believers at Rome. She is noted as a deacon. In the first century, deacons were not the power brokers that they are in many Baptist churches today. Back then deacon was just the first step in service to the Lord. Deacons were those that we singled out for the heart for the Lord and service to other Christians. In the early church, they were the ones who took care of the practical day-to-day matters of the church. The fact that Phoebe was a deacon reminds us that women played an important role in the early church. In a time in history, when women has little or no power and few human rights, the fact that Pheobe is named as a deacon is especially striking. This kind of debunks the sometimes held belief that the Christian church has a sexist bent. Paul mentions Phoebe as being helpful to Paul so that means most likely that she helped his ministry’s financial needs. She was highly regarded in the church. She was a woman who helped the church grow and expand. Women were part of Jesus’ town to town entourage (Luke 8:1-3) who helped meet the needs of his ministry and did so from their own means. They were not prevented from helping the church because they were women. They were empowered by Jesus and later his church.

Sure, Paul tells us in many other places in the Bible that women should submit to their husbands (who are submitted to the Lord and loves his wife the way the Lord loved his church – he gave his life for it). However, that did not mean that they were not allowed to be active, useful, and important members of the church. Throughout the New Testament women are given great value by Jesus and by his church. What mattered to Jesus and it is apparent here is that they were believers and they wished to serve the Lord. Women, as you see, here plaid prominent roles in the church. This shows that a woman can be submissive to a truly Godly man in the matters of their home and as a couple outside it but it does not preclude women from great, great servants in the church. Women are celebrated by the church. Women are gifts to us men. They are the true treasures of God’s creation. They are beauty. They are that which makes our world worth living in. They are what make this world worth fighting for. Without women, the world would be a dirty, ugly, and harsh like the nature of men. Women are made to be home. They are our safe place in a harsh world. They are important in God’s plan and they should be important in God’s church.

Let us remember as Christian men, we are given the gift of a submissive wife. With the submission of our wives to us, we are given an even greater responsibility to her (and by extension to God-fearing women in general). We must be willing to die for our wives as Christ died for us. We are called to be sacrificial for our wives. We are called to put their needs before ours. As Christ covers us with his perfection, we are to cover and protect our wives and make sure that they can grow into the flowers that they are intended to be. We are not to keep them beaten down and locked away. We are to make sure that they can flourish just as Jesus makes sure that we are made right with God. As men, we should make sure that not only our wives are allowed to flourish but all Christian women. We should create an environment that these treasures, women, can flourish and use the special gifts that God gives specifically to women. This is our job, men. The way I see it, women will willingly submit to a man when she sees him living a God-fearing life and is demonstrating a Christ-like love toward her as a wife or a Christ-like respect to her as a woman in general. We don’t get submission by being a prick to our wives or women in general.

So, there you have it, women are important in God’s plan of redemption for the world just as we men are. They played important roles in the first century church and were extremely important to the rapid spread of the church. The Christian church is empowering of women because Jesus was empowering of women. Feminists bash the Bible because they read that women should be submissive. Yes, it says that, and, yes, we believe that. However, what the feminists don’t read on and see is that men have a higher calling that results in this submission. We are called to love our wives the way Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He went all out for it to the point of offering up his life so that we would be reconciled to God. We are to love our wives this way. How can a woman not submit to a husband that loves her this way? By implication too, we, men, should create an environment for all Christian women that they know that we will put our life on the line for them, that we will create an environment where they feel safe and can flourish. As men, we should empower women to become all they can be just as Jesus did. He gave them value. We should give them value. If they have talents that can benefit and further the church we should celebrate it and foster it not condemn it and hinder it. Women. Women. Women. They are God’s gift to us. Let us treat them that way. Let us help them become all they can be in God’s plan.