Jesus challenges traditional gender roles of Jewish culture…
In closing, we’ll look at one more significant encounter Jesus had with a woman. It’s sort of a strange story, but it demonstrates how Jesus challenged the traditional gender roles of that culture. In their place He created a heavenly standard by which all women and all men can discover their God-given destiny.
Jesus was teaching. Suddenly, ‘a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you!”‘ I guess her excitement got the best of her that day. But her words reflected the traditional rabbinic position: Women receive God’s blessing indirectly through their menfolk, their sons or husbands. A woman couldn’t serve God in her own right. The rabbis had taught: ‘Whereby do women earn merit? By making thier children go to the synagogue to learn Scripture and their husbands to the [rabbinical school] to learn Mishnah, and waiting for their husbands till they return. According to this restrictive worldview, the woman who called out these words was right. Mary was indeed blessed above all women, for no woman had ever had a Son who served God as Jesus had.
But Jesus rejected her words. ‘He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”‘ What was He doing? Was He showing ill will toward Mary, His mother? Certainly not. All His life Jesus loved her, respectfully calling her ‘dear woman.’ Even when He was suffering physical and spiritual torment, dying on the cross, He was concerned for His mother. Nor was Jesus belittling the role of motherhood.
Jesus was rejecting the system of thought that for centuries had cut women off from active participation in the things of God. Jesus would have no part in religious values that relegated, exempted, excluded, and limited a person’s walk with God or her ministry for God. It would be different in His kingdom.