In our first lesson, we saw how God's choice of women is an indication of the importance He places on them.
Many of us have difficulty in fully accepting Jesus' love. In this lesson, to help us more clearly understand Jesus' ministry, we will begin to look more closely at His attitude towards different kinds of women, or women in different roles and situations. The first we will look at is Jesus' attitude towards the "sinful" women He met.
Jesus and Sinful Women
God began preparing the groundwork for sending Jesus to be our Savior long before Jesus was ever born on earth. One of the most striking ways in which He did this was in the selection of Jesus' ancestry.
Matthew lists five women: Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law, who prostituted herself; Rehab, the prostitute who helped the Israelite spies when the Children of Israel were ready to enter the Promised Land; Ruth, a heathen Moabitess; Bathsheba, who committed adultery with David; and Mary, the mother of Jesus, a poor peasant girl.
When we look at these five women mentioned in Jesus' genealogy, we see that they are not a very impressive group. Three of them, Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba - could be considered sinful women. In addition, Ruth was a heathen woman, and Mary a simple peasant girl.
I believe God chose them just because they were sinful, heathen or ordinary so that all people of all times would find it easy to identify with Jesus. We will never be able to use our background, our heredity, our moral condition, or our lack of some special quality as an excuse to hold us back for not qualifying for our Savior's love.
The Scripture: John 8:3-11
"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery... 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. Jesus...said, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her' ...At this, those who heard Him began to go away...until Jesus was left with the woman... Jesus...asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, Sir.' 'Then neither do I condemn you.' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.' "
1. What was the accusation brought against this woman?
2. Who brought the accusation?
3. What did they say the penalty was?
4. What was Jesus' response?
5. What was the response of the religious leaders to Jesus' statement?
6. What was Jesus' verdict on the woman's guilt?
7. What did He tell her to do?
This scripture tells us that the religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus. They thought they "had" Him this time. If He sided with them in condemning the woman, He would lose His popularity with the ordinary people. On the other hand, if He told the leaders not to stone her, He would be taking a stand against the Mosaic Law.
But Jesus was not swayed by their "loaded" question. First, He knew they were violating the Mosaic Law because, according to it, both the man and the woman were to be stoned. But more importantly, He knew the conditions of their hearts, and in God's eyes, these men were as guilty as the woman they were condemning. When Jesus threw the decision back at them, they were forced to realize this and they went away.
This is not to say that Jesus condoned the woman's sin, but rather that He recognized the unfair situation in which she was caught. To her, He said, as He would say to any person involved in any sin: "Leave your life of sin."
Let's look at some other "disreputable" women in Jesus' life
On His way to Galilee, it was necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria. He sat down by a well near the town of Sychar. When a woman approached to draw water, He asked her for a drink. She was surprised because Jews did not associate with Samaritans. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be "half breeds" and heathen. Furthermore, religious Jews did not associate with women on a casual basis. No wonder the woman was surprised when Jesus spoke to her.
The Scripture: John 4:10
"Jesus [said] 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.' "
8. What did Jesus say to her?
Even more surprised she asked where He would be able to get this living water.
The Scripture: John 4:13
"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’"
9. What did Jesus say about the water He gives?
10. How did Jesus describe it?
Of course, the woman wanted some of this living water Jesus spoke of. Jesus told her to go get her husband. She admitted that she had no husband. Jesus told her that indeed she had had five husbands and she was currently living with a man who was not her husband.
Some writers have attempted to explain away the woman's past, but I believe such explanations miss the point of the whole story. Jesus came to save sinners, and to do so, He frequently associated with them.
The woman tried to change the subject, but Jesus brought her back to it.
The Scripture: John 4: 23-26
"A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. The woman said, 'I know that Messiah (called Christ)' is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.' Then Jesus declared, 'I who speak to you am He.' ”
11. How did Jesus say the true worshiper would worship?
12. What did the woman say about the Messiah?
13. What was Jesus' response?
The Scripture: John 4: 28-30
"The woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' They came out of the town and made their way toward Him."
14. What did the woman do?
15. What did she tell people?
16. What was her question?
The Scripture: John 4: 39-42
"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony... So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days. And because of His words many more became believers. They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'"
17. Why did many of the Samaritans believe?
18. How long did Jesus stay with them?
19. What did they say to the woman?
Yes, because of the testimony of one "sinful" woman, many Samaritans came to the Lord, and we can be sure that this woman was one of them.
The Scripture: Luke 7: 36-39
"One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so He went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner.’ ”
20. Where was Jesus when this episode took place?
21. How is the woman described?
22. What did she do?
23. What was the Pharisee's attitude?
The Scripture: Luke 7: 47-48
"I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ ”
24. What did Jesus say to the woman?
By allowing this woman to touch Him, Jesus was considered ritually "unclean." by Pharisee tradition. But Jesus never let legalities stand in the way of bringing someone to God.
How we have misunderstood Jesus! Jesus always takes His place with the rejected, the bruised, and the unwanted. Even His birth was probably a scandal to many. During His ministry on earth, Jesus surrounded Himself with the rejected and the disreputable. Among His disciples were a tax collector (Matthew); tax collectors were all considered to be cheaters; and a political revolutionary (Simon). He constantly ministered to the rejected -- the down-and-outers of society.
The Scripture: Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
25. How is Jesus described?
If Jesus came to earth today, He would minister to the same kind of people He ministered to when He lived here before: prostitutes, pimps, thieves, and the down-and-outers. We have His commission to minister to these same people.
The Scripture: John 12:47
"I did not come to judge the world, but to save it."
26. Why did Jesus say He came into the world?
- She had been caught in the act of adultery.
- The teachers of the law and the Pharisees
- For the person without sin to throw the first stone
- They went away
- He would not condemn her
- To leave her life of sin
- If she knew who it was who asked her for a drink, she would have asked Him for living water
- That whoever drank it would never thirst again
- It would become a spring of water to the person drinking it, welling up to eternal life.
- In spirit and in truth
- That when He came, He would explain everything to them
- That He was the Messiah
- She went back to her town
- To come and see Jesus. He had told her everything she had ever done.
- "Could this be the Christ?"
- Because of the woman's testimony
- Two days
- "We know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
- At a Pharisee's house
- As one who had lived a sinful life in that town
- She wiped His feet with her tears, then wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them.
- That Jesus could not be a prophet or He would have known who this woman was
- "Your sins are forgiven."
- As the same yesterday, today, and forever
- To save it
All scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, New International Version
(unless otherwise indicated)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 New International Bible Society
Copyright © 2006 by JoAnne Sekowsky