She Shall Be Called Woman

Part Two Session Two

 

Relevance of What Jesus Said and Did 

 

As we begin this section on how Jesus expressed God’s view of women by what He said and did, we need to remember that what Jesus says and does come from the Father. Carefully read and consider the following scriptures. 

 

John 14:10-11  "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.  11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."

 

John 12:49-50 "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

 

John 5:19 "Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."

 

Remember, when we look at the words and actions of Jesus,  He is expressing God’s opinion—the only one that matters. With that in mind, we will take a close look at what He wants us to learn through His encounters with women.

 

In this lesson we’ll look at two major points. 

 

1. How God views of a double standard in sexual behavior. A double standard means an ethical or moral code (rules of behavior) that applies more strictly to one group than to another .

 

2. Does God see women as the property of men?

 

The Woman Caught in Adultry

 

The story is found in John 8:2-11 

 

2 "Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,

4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.

5 "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"

6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."

8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"

11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

 

The usual focus when studying this passage is on the religious leaders trying to trap Jesus. If Jesus said “Yes” to stoning, He would be violating the Roman law. If He said “No,” He would appear to go against Mosaic law.

 

The law of Moses about sexual relations outside of marriage is found in Deut:22:22-29. It says that those having consensual sexual relations outside of marriage (which means both agreeing to the act), both are to be put to death by stoning. In the case of rape where the woman is forced and resists, only the man is to be put to death. But, that is not the case in this story.

 

When God gave the law to Moses, it had been over 2,500 years since Adam and Eve sinned. Human beings had moved a long way away from God’s perfect will given in Genesis 1 & 2. Jesus came not only to redeem us but to remind us to God’s original plan. You may want to go back and review Lessons 1 and 2 and maybe read Genesis 1 & 2 again to refresh your memory on just what God’s plan is.

 

We know Jesus did the perfect will of the Father. His perfect obedience made Him a sinless sacrifice who could atone for our sins. Jesus came to reveal the righteousness of God apart from the Law (Romans 3:20-26) When we read in Matthew 5:17 that Jesus came to “fulfill the law” the word used for ‘fulfill’ is “pleroo” in Greek which means finish, satisfy, complete but it does not mean “to keep” in the sense of obeying. 

 

So, whenever something Jesus says or does is different from what first century Jews thought was right or from what our own culture approves, we choose His way, knowing it is the perfect will of God. 

 

It is difficult to imagine a more callous use of a human person than the "adulterous" woman was put to by the enemies of Jesus. First, she was surprised in the midst of an intimate act. then dragged before the scribes and Pharisees. Finally, they brought her before an even larger crowd that Jesus was instructing and made her stand in full view of everybody.[1]

 

Have you ever wondered about this story? Why do we call it the story of the woman caught in adultery? Can a woman commit adultery by herself? It’s impossible! She couldn’t have been “caught in the very act” alone.[2] We can learn much about the status of womanhood in first century Jewish culture from studying this story. What is the position of women in the eyes of these religious leaders? The fact that the guilty man is not there says that sex outside of marriage is not a big problem for a man but as for a woman, it can destroy her life.[3] Do you see that this is still true today?

 

So what did Jesus do? First, He dealt with the double standard displayed in this story.[4] Those accusing her are teachers of the Law – they know what it says. Did they “forget” to arrest the other guilty party? Why was he allowed to grab his clothes and make a run for it? Their actions reveal a double standard. They had more respect for their culture than the scripture.

 

Jesus didn’t say a word. He squatted down and wrote on the ground. We don’t know what He wrote but it’s possible that Jesus was writing something on the ground with His finger that the bystanders would have understood. He could very well have been quoting the law convicting them of a double standard. We can’t prove this because the Word doesn’t say, but we also can’t really assume that what he was writing had nothing to do with the situation. 

 

When the accusers insisted on some action He rose up, looked at them and said: "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." Then He went back to writing in the dirt. It is probable that there is more to what He was writing in the dust than has been revealed in scripture and that it was something that may have been very exposing to some standing by, backed up by His words “He who is without sin etc.” Possibly he wrote the names of those standing by who were also guilty of adultery. Maybe He reminded them of the day when no one will be able to hide, when no one will be able to point to another. Whatever the reason, they all began to slip away. When we look at ourselves honestly, it is difficult to throw stones. 

 

Jesus wouldn’t play their game. He refused to support a culture that favored one gender over the other. The woman’s sin wasn’t worse that the man’s—nor was it better. “He refused to approve a double standard. He rebuked the cry of His own and of subsequent ages: Stone the woman and let the man go free. He dealt with both the accusers and the accused directly as human beings. He spoke directly to the accusers about their own personal ethical conduct.”[5]  Then, breaking further with tradition, He speaks directly to the accused woman. While His words show compassion, He never approves of her conduct. He asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.[6] 

 

Here we find a very important teaching that is usually missed. This culture viewed women as though they were the property of men. As we have said, a woman’s every action was controlled by a man in her life whether father, husband or family patriarch. Basically, she was property, similar to a slave. Property has no power over what happens to it. Jesus rejects this concept. He gives her responsibility for her own life and future. With the words, “Go and sin no more,” He put her on equal footing with men. She stood there as a full adult human being, a person--responsible for her own life, her own sin. She has personhood. She is not property. 

_______________________________________________

Footnotes:

 

 [1] Swidler, Lenard “Jesus was a Feminist,” God’s Word to Women Website http://www.godswordtowomen.org/feminist.htm

 [2] Cunningham, Lauren and David Hamilton with Janice Rogers, Why Not Women A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry and Leadership (Seattle, YWAM Publishing, 2000) p 113.

 [3] Today in many cultures if a woman has sex outside of marriage, even if she is raped, the family considers her a disgrace to their name and she is killed to restore the family’s honor.

 [4] The idea or standard, that gives one group more options or privileges then another group within society.

 [5] Starr, Leanna The Bible Status of Women (New York, New York Lithographing Corp. 1955).p. 175.

 [6] Swidler, “Feminist.”

 

QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION POINTS

 

1. Do you see double standards in your culture? Is so, what are they? 

 

2. Is there ever a place for a double standard? 

 

3. Do you think it is important to make it clear that Jesus rejected traditions that treat women as property to be controlled by men? Why or why not?

 

Click here to discuss 

 

Back to the top     Link to Part Two Session Three

 

© 2020-21 by Women for the Nations using Wix.com

  • Wix Facebook page