Learning from Jesus' Example: Honoring Women this International Women's Day
The world celebrates and champions women every year on International Women's Day. The hope is to call attention to inequality, abuse, and poverty, among other issues. As Christ-followers, women, and leaders, how can we acknowledge and celebrate this annual focus? Not by following the world's lead, but by looking to Jesus for how He viewed and valued women.
Luke 8:40-56 and Mark 5:25-34 relay a story of Jesus ministering counter to the societal norms in first-century Palestine. As Jesus followed a prominent synagogue leader named Jairus, whose daughter was dying, an unnamed woman with an incurable illness pressed through the crowd to touch the hem of his garment, believing for her healing. Her twelve-year battle with continuous bleeding categorized her as unclean, likely preventing her from attending the synagogue and social activities. The contrast between the two individuals seeking healing from Jesus is undeniable. Title and power were exalted, while women were deemed unfit to even testify in court. Society would have revered Jairus' status while disdaining the unnamed woman because of her gender and illness.
Despite Jairus' position and urgent request, Jesus stopped to see who had caused power to leave him. He spoke kindly to her, acknowledging and valuing an anonymous woman whom society deemed unclean. Jesus repeatedly disregarded culture's norms and opinions about women, conversing with them and ministering to them, treating them as equal heirs to the kingdom of God.
Scholar and theologian, N.T. Wright offers a thought-provoking observation. When the disciples deserted Jesus after his arrest, “it is the women who come first to the tomb, who are the first to see the risen Jesus, and who are the first to be entrusted with the news that He has been raised from the dead.” As part of the God-head, Jesus publicly esteemed these women and respected their faithful commitment, choosing to appear to them first, immediately after his resurrection.
People around the world will celebrate International Women's Day in diverse ways. As AG Women, we can joyfully focus on Jesus' timeless and unprecedented example of honoring women, unquestionably declaring that women are equally loved, equally valued, and equally called by God.