Lent. Part 4. Destination, the garden

If the first thing you think of when you remember the woman at the well is “the man you are living with now is not your husband,” then you have missed the whole point of Jesus’ visit to this Samaritan woman.

The Danvers Statement Affirmation #9 says: “With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world.”

No matter what shape the world is in, the writers of The Danvers Statement would never have chosen the woman at the well to be the instrument God used to win lost people to Christ.

But Jesus did.

Everyone knows her story. In fact, hers is one of the longest detailed stories of an event in the New Testament. It was her story. She told it to everyone who would listen. This man she had just met at the well knew that she had had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband.

Jesus was not judging her for that. He was offering her something that no man could offer a woman. He was offering her living water—from a well that would never run dry. And he told her that he was the source of this living water.

This was a woman experienced in the ways of men, and she knew this conversation was different from any she had ever had. She was certainly not the one who would be expected to announce the news that prophecy had been fulfilled and that the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. No one would even listen to a woman proclaiming this momentous event, would they? But for some reason, Jesus chose her to reveal his true identity.

She took that message and ran with it.

It was Jesus who brought up the subject of living water. He told her that if she drank from the water he gave, she would never be thirsty again.

She wanted that. She said she did not want to keep coming to the well to draw water. She was probably teasing him at that point as she had no idea what he was talking about. Then Jesus did something surprising. He told her to go call her husband, and then to come back.

Aha! Finally Jesus brings male headship into the conversation! “Go, call your husband and come back,” Jesus said.

The woman answered, “I have no husband.”

Was Jesus was surprised at this? Did he ask her to go call her husband just to embarrass her?  No, its significance is greater than her confession that she was not married to the man with whom she was living. She was worthy in her own right, as a woman, to be told directly by him that he was the Messiah. They engaged in a theological discussion. This woman was not learning in silence. And Jesus did not rebuke her for it. She talked back and told him that she could see that he was a prophet. She declared “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

And he did explain—right then and there—to the woman at the well, a woman who did not have a husband to tell her if what she was hearing was right or wrong. She heard, she accepted, she told.

This story of the woman at the well is found in John 4:4-42 and begins by saying, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” It is best translated that “he purposed in his mind” to go through Samaria, because the Jews had found a way, even though it was inconvenient, to avoid Samaria. They thought they were better than these poor cousins, the Samaritans, and for a Jew to deliberately go through Samaria was unusual.

There was something in Samaria that Jesus needed to do in order to complete his earthly work.

With this story of the Woman at the Well, we see how the picture of Jesus is coming together.

  • The Jewish woman, Mary of Bethany, who Jesus permitted to sit at his feet right beside the men, and learn at a time when learning scripture was forbidden to women
  • The Gentile woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was not sent only to Israel, but to all people, which included her
  • The Samaritan woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah, who the Samaritans were also expecting, since they claimed theirs was the true religion of the ancient Israelites.

These are pivotal stories because they show that Jesus gives the voice of the gospel to women just as he gives the voice of the gospel to men. These stories also set the stage for the empty tomb where it was women who first encountered the resurrected Jesus and where the full gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus would unfold. So, yes, Jesus purposed in his mind to go through Samaria, because he had something to complete in Samaria.

The completion of this mission was so satisfying to him that he told his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” The conversation he had with this woman had an effect on Jesus that was profoundly different from his other encounters with men or women. This is the only scripture passage in the Bible where Jesus said that what had just happened was so meaningful to him that he felt that he had been fed. In other words, mission accomplished.

Verse 42 says “…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.” These men first heard the words of Jesus from a woman, and then they heard the same message from Jesus himself.

Jesus is headed to the garden tomb and the final meeting with a woman who steps into the Christian era with the news “He is risen!”

It is 2016. What will you do? 

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How Christianity Today can turn debacle into something good

“We are horrified,” Mark Gallia, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today wrote to me in response to my email, “I am sorry this happened.” I accept his apology and know that he is horrified at the ad that appeared in the March CT section Marketplace, under Employment Opportunities.

soninlaw

She is a real person and had no idea her father had placed this in “the magazine that Billy Graham founded” which were her words in her explanation on her blog. He not only placed the ad (or somebody did) but he gave her blog address. I have blacked out her blog address and the Apply at email address.

This ad did not fall from the sky into that space. It is just one page and Son-In-Law was the first thing I saw as I flipped through the magazine. The Marketplace editor should have seen it, too. Perhaps someone saw this as a joke and the person, or persons, responsible did not see anything wrong with it. I do not believe this failure is applicable to all those at CT, but it is applicable to someone there.

It is no joke when a daughter – in this case a 26 year old woman – is offered for sale by a father. For one thing, he is selling something he doesn’t own. Many apologies are owed. The father, the sales person who took the ad, and the editors owe this young woman an apology. They also owe every woman an apology. According to Mark Galli, they have taken steps at Christianity Today to ensure this does not happen again.

I accepted Mark Gallia’s apology to me and I wrote back,

“Mark, there is a way to come out of this debacle with grace and dignity. You can turn this patriarchal employment advertisement into something good.

In contrast, you can feature in Christianity Today (CT) those women who are working for Christian egalitarianism in the church and home. Our story has not been told. There are many of us who are fighting this battle against male headship. I, myself, stood up in a movie theater in December 2015 at a showing of Suffragettes, and said to those sitting there “Women are still not equal in most churches on Sunday mornings.” Hear our voices.

Help us turn the tide on patriarchal and male headship teaching. Turn something really bad into something really good.”

I hope their inbox is full and their phones are ringing off the wall from pastors, women, and all others who saw this or heard about it. But I doubt that. I expect there were more than a few snickers by those who should know better.

It is 2016. Will you contact Christianity Today and tell them how they can turn something really bad into something really good?

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Lent. Part 3. Destination, the garden

There are four women to whom Jesus tells that he is the Messiah, the Canaanite woman being one of them. Most often we hear of her great faith, but when we concentrate on the faith of this woman, we diminish the message Jesus gave her. She was given the news from Jesus himself that he not only came for the Jews, but for the Gentiles also – and that meant her. Her story is found in both Matthew and Mark.

She asked Jesus to heal her daughter, but for some reason, he was not going to do it.  Jesus told her “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” She was a Gentile, and Jesus was telling her that he was sent to save the Jews only. But if that was the case, I wouldn’t be here writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it. So we see that while Jesus said that, it did not tell the whole story. And then by healing her daughter, he is showing her that he is also the Messiah of the Gentiles. That is Big News! We must never forget that this extraordinary news was told to a woman who had no husband nearby, or possibly not at all.

But right now, this woman did not need some idealistic prophecy of what was to happen in the future. Her daughter lay in bed very ill and she needed help now. So she argued with this man Jesus in whom she had placed her hope. ‘Help my daughter! Surely you have enough power within you to give a small portion to us Gentiles.’

 But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.”  He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed. (Common English Bible)

This story is very similar to the story of the first miracle when Jesus turned the water into wine. His mother (remember she had first argued with the angel Gabriel when told she was going to have a baby who would be the Messiah?) In the Wedding story Jesus says almost the same thing to his mother as he says to the Canaanite woman.

When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.” His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did.  The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. (Common English Bible)

Just as his mother had asked for a special favor “even though the time was not right,” Jesus did as she asked. He does the same with this Gentile woman, showing that his right time had no beginning or ending.

Jesus told women his Good News, and he did not tell any one of those women to go home and ask her husband, brother, or father what he meant. He did not tell any one of these women not to tell the Good News of the Messiah. If he had, we would have never heard these stories. The Gentile woman went home and found her daughter healed. The disciples didn’t see that ending. She told it to whoever would listen.

It is 2016. What stories are you telling about your relationship with Jesus?

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Lent. Part 2. Destination, the garden

Jesus is headed to the garden, this time to the garden tomb of Lazarus, where something very important is about to happen. There is to be a resurrection, a small demonstration of what is to come.

It is a familiar story. You know it well. You know Lazarus died, Jesus wept, Lazarus came forth from the tomb. And you know that Martha and Mary were at odds with each other because Martha needed help in the kitchen and Mary was sitting down and not helping.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” But every story has a back story and that story is most often ignored because the significance doesn’t fit with today’s male headship teaching.

Mary and Martha are the sisters of Lazarus. Apparently they live together. But it is not Lazarus who appears to be the head of the household, it is Martha. The stories in the Gospels do not attribute one word spoken by Lazarus, either before his death or afterwards. He does nothing to indicate he is the “head” of this family. Jesus speaks and interacts with Mary and Martha, and even this resurrection of Lazarus is overshadowed by Jesus’ talking with Martha, and his special notice of Mary.

Most of the people Jesus comes into contact with have only one story recorded in the Gospels. But Mary and Martha have at least four stories about their encounter with Jesus. When we first find Mary and Martha, Mary is at the feet of Jesus and Martha is fussing in the kitchen.

Mary was learning from the Teacher himself which was an enormously big deal in that time. It was said that for women to be taught the scriptures from men was similar to teaching them about sex – it just was not done. But here Mary is sitting at the Master’s feet alongside the men.

She is also the same Mary who, six days after the resurrection of her brother Lazarus, pours expensive alabaster oil on Jesus’ feet and dries his feet with her hair. Jesus rebukes those who seek to stop her by saying she is wasting the oil that could be sold to help feed the poor. He tells them “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”(Matthew 26:11-13).

Mary and Martha send for Jesus, but he waits until Lazarus is completely dead (it was believed by some Jews that the spirit hung around for three to seven days after death). It is Martha who runs to Jesus when he arrives after Lazarus’ death. If he had only gotten there earlier, Lazarus would have been healed but here he was dead and in the tomb and stinking for four days.

The bible makes the point that “ when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house.” Mary remained at the house with the neighbors who came to comfort her. We know that Lazarus’ death and resurrection is one illustration Jesus wants to make, and we are going to see that there is one more connection to be made.

Here it is:

“After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here and he’s calling for you.” Jesus was headed to the tomb where Lazarus lay but it was important that Mary who had a hungering for the Scriptures and the things to come, be there when he brought Lazarus forth from the tomb. Thus, he said six days later, “she has prepared me for my burial.”

Just the facts, ma’am. Women had gone every step of the way with Jesus. They did not abandon him at the time of his trial; they did not deny him. Jesus is headed toward the tomb where at least two Marys will be the first to see him after his resurrection.

It is 2016. Jesus has been resurrected and the New Day dawned over 2,000 years ago. Are you still denying women equality in your church or in your home?

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Lent Part 1. Destination, the Garden

You see, it began with the Garden of Eden and it culminated in the Garden of the Tomb and with the resurrection. That is no coincidence. And it is no coincidence that a woman was the one who was there when the Lord was revealed.

It was all leading up to that, of course, but they didn’t see it and I can bet your pastor doesn’t see it either. The scriptures pointing the way have been used for other illustrations if they are mentioned at all.  Rarely will you hear a sermon on the four women Jesus chose to lead the way.

But first, we must go back to that first Garden. This is a story the Jewish leaders and every household knew very well, just as we Christians know it and teach our children.

Man and woman were banned from the Garden. The man was to till the soil and the woman was to give life. Her name was now Eve which means “life” or “life-giving, or “mother of all who have life.”

Tears come into my eyes for all the Eves of the world. Eve wanted knowledge. She would be the one giving birth to future generations, but those same sons and daughters would curse her. God did not curse her. He cursed the snake and the ground that would be tilled, but he did not curse the man or the woman.

In this series “Destination, the Garden” we will see how Jesus, the “second Adam” demonstrates  redemption to the woman. And we will learn that yet, again, those sons and daughters still curse the woman who gave them life.

It is 2016. Are you still cursing the woman who gave you life? 

(On February 11, 2016 my blog was listed as one of the “49 Seriously Good Blogs for Christian Egalitarians” by The Junia Project)

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The complementarian woman

If she had worn a scarf on her head, I would have expected the words that came out of her mouth. But she was a Christian, young and beautiful, working in a Christian bookstore.

I had stopped by a few months previous and left my book Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition for them to sell and take the proceeds. I wasn’t asking anything from the sale. So I stopped by to see if the book had sold. Of course I knew they would not even attempt to sell my book, or even read it. Which is exactly what the young woman admitted to.

She said she couldn’t get past the first few pages. I can see why. The first few pages explain the vast difference between egalitarian and complementarian beliefs. The complementarian view is so ingrained in her young life that she could not in good conscience even read that she might be wrong.

I suspect my book appeared as the serpent in the Garden of Eden to her. Unlike Eve, she would not be tempted.

You are either equal or you are not. She had chosen to believe that she was not. She had also chosen to believe that the Bible says so.

I was amazed and astounded at the conversation. I could not believe that young women are so willing to swallow complementarianism and its full expression of submission to all males.

She quoted Timothy and Titus and said that women are to be the housekeepers. I pointed out that she was working, and she said that women could work but still were to be the housekeepers. Then she said that women were not to have careers. I asked her what is a career? I have been a secretary for over 35 years and she is working in a bookstore. Are those careers? She said that a career was where you could “climb the ladder” to a higher job. I laughed and told her that I suppose that both she and I “could climb the ladder.” She could aspire to own the bookstore where she worked, and I could have been (it’s a little late for that now) like Carly Fiorina who began as a secretary and is now a presidential candidate.

Where is this young woman going? She has been told that she cannot have a career (and who decides what a career is?) and she has been told that all males are superior to her. Even though she is still single, she has been led to believe that her husband will support her because the Bible says men are to provide the bread for the family. She has been led to believe that she can work outside the home if she has to, but that in doing so, she is working outside the will of God.

She said “God created sex” which will make this young woman inclined to believe anything she reads by Timothy Keller (the glory of sex – Real Marriage), Mark Driscoll, Ed Young, Jr., (Fifty Shades of They), and a myriad of other sex preachers. She will believe Beth Moore when she says that women tempt men today like the devil tempted Eve (When godly people do ungodly things), which was the very way of thinking (that women listen to the devil) that began the witch hunts that caused women to be burned at the stake.

The serpent said, “you will be like God” and now it is men who have chosen to be like God, and they teach that all females are to bow down in submission before all males. Jesus does not teach that God has given males the right to have females bow down before them in submission.

Complementarians never quote Jesus when pushing their theology.

Paige Patterson, Dorothy Patterson, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and all others who began this complementarian indoctrination of our young men and women in church, and those who continue to teach it, owe all Christians, and society, an apology for their abomination of the gospel.

Its 2016. What do you believe?

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Religious Liberty and Presidential Candidates

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states “The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind…..A free church (has) the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.” (XV11 Religious Liberty).

Baptists, and perhaps most Christians, do not want the state to interfere with religious values. BUT they do not appear to have any problem with religious values interfering with civil values.

For instance,

it was government, not Christian, values that dictated Civil Justice for blacks,

it was government, not Christian, values that dictated Civil Justice for women,

it was government, not Christian, values that dictated Civil Justice for homosexuals,

and,

it is religious values that demand that women be submissive to all males – husbands, leaders, and so on, under the guise of ‘the bible says so.’ Or the Quran or other religious teachings says so.

So, president wanna-be’s head off to Liberty University to be anointed by conservative Christians, like Two Corinthians Trump and Cruz did. It was Rubio who put Wayne Grudem, founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, on his staff of advisors. Whenever Liberty University or Wayne Grudem is involved, women suffer. Religious Liberty has just strangled women.

It is always women who must wear the standard of their religion. Whether it is clothing such as scarves and hijabs, or severe clothing styles for Amish, Pentecostal, etc., it is women who look strange in our Western culture.

It is women who are denied leadership positions in their church and even in the community. Women are denied leadership in their own homes and before their children. Women cannot preach or teach men, while Christian men are denied nothing due to their gender.

Religious liberty is no liberty when it comes to women. Give me Civil liberty any day.

It is 2016. What are you doing for true Religious Liberty for women?

My new book “Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition” is available on Amazon and Kindle. All my books can be found on www.shirleytaylor.net

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