“He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Is. 61:1).
It is unfortunate that some men I greatly esteem do not have equal respect for me solely because I am a woman. Their regard for me is limited, not by what I do or how I minister, but it would seem I am handicapped in their eyes simply because of my gender.
Jesus came to the Earth to break the gender bias that was held by the church during His day. Yet it seems, though many accepted His ministry, they ignore the example He set for them. Indeed, He realigned women with the kingdom of heaven, positioning us to receive the Spirit’s outpouring for the last days.
Jesus’ mind was engulfed by His heavenly perceptions, and He imparted all of His Father’s concepts, beliefs and actions to humanity. He lived His life on Earth as an example of the prayer He taught us to pray to our Father. His life’s breath was, “Your kingdom come;
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
It was Christ’s passion to see the model of His Father’s kingdom become the way of life for His followers on the Earth. “As it is in heaven!” are just five little words that come down like a hammer on our past traditions and mindsets.
My grandma use to make us all pray the Lord’s prayer together before family meals. It was very important to her. Yet, I do not think she had any real idea of the tremendous power of this amazing prayer. For simply and truly, Jesus was calling forth all of the riches of heaven, its wealth of love and acceptance, to come and be made manifest in humanity. His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, so He taught them to pray in accordance with His Father’s will to be made manifest in their lives.
In an encounter I had with the Lord, He showed me His home in heaven. I have only seen heaven a few times, but in one particular encounter, I was so completely overpowered by the overwhelming feelings of the acceptance I felt in heaven. I literally did not realize how much oppressive rejection we live with every day here on Earth. My mind and soul felt rejuvenated and restored by the penetrating sense of acceptance. It consumed me. I felt truly welcomed, understood and celebrated. So I can say with absolute certainty, something we should already realize, and that is there is no gender bias in heaven!
As I came out of the encounter, my family could tangibly feel the acceptance of heaven. As I shared with them all I had seen, the essence of heaven’s reception filled our home.
The love that is expressed in heaven is truly unconditional and is what our heavenly Father wants for us here in this world, in this life. “As it is in heaven,” that’s what God wants for us, and that is how He wants us to live—treating people with the respect and esteem of heaven. That is why Jesus was so passionate about heaven’s kingdom possessing Earth’s realm.
Truly, as Christ lived, He became a voice for anyone who was thought to be unacceptable or undervalued by Earth’s societal scale. Why? Because it was directly opposed to the Father’s way in heaven, and it stood in the way of the kingdom of God coming to Earth!
One of the most prevalent attitudes Jesus fought hard against while on Earth was the belief that women were inferior or second class. Jesus knew women and men are equal, and this belief put Him in direct conflict with the religious leaders of the day. “He answered, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder'” (Matt. 19:4-6).
Contrary to what is often taught about the Lord’s conduct toward women, He accepted women into His ministry and had many women disciples as well: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Salome, Martha sister of Lazarus, Mariamne sister of Phillip, Arsinoe, Susanna and Joanna (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus lived His life as an example of how we were to relate to each other as human beings. He broke taboos, rules and laws in His conduct toward the women He came in contact with. The Word records the many incidents in His life where He openly empowered women, which was against the oral law and customs of the times.
Jesus allowed women to travel with Him, they were a part of His inner circle, and they were His disciples. He related with women as His equals (Matt. 27:55-56; Luke 8:1-3; Luke 10:38-42; John 2:5; John 4:4-26). Jesus did not teach inequality between the genders; He taught us to honor others as more important than ourselves and, in doing so, we would discover that is what truly makes us great, not our race or gender (Mark 10:43). Love was much more important to Him than law (John 13:34).
Jesus came to purify the attitudes of humanity and start a revolution of love.
His goal was and is to cleanse us from any attitude which did not further the advance of the Kingdom of heaven in our lives. Bias against women comes squarely against God’s love and is in stark contrast to the acceptance of heaven. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we allow the Lord to purge us of any ideology that limits the manifestation of heaven in us.
Beliefs that limit women’s ability to exemplify spirituality are corrupt social practices that have been accepted and advanced by the church. This is just the opposite of what Christ worked for.
Indeed, Jesus wanted the church, His church, to lead the world in displaying the example He set and break down the barriers against women and anyone who suffered under the weight of rejection and abuse. We were given the assignment and responsibility to love with equality all God’s children.
Jesus Launched Women Into Ministry
In John 4:7-26, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob and asked her for water. As she served Him, He revealed to her who He was. He met the need of her heart, delivering her of her shame, and set her heart aflame with His love!
Knowing full well she would share the great news of the Messiah, Jesus did not stop her from sharing it as He had done with others on all other occasions (Matt. 12:16). In His knowing silence, He started the first woman’s ministry and many Samaritans believed because of her testimony of Him.
His disciples were of course shocked because, again, Jesus broke the rules: He spoke to a woman publicly, taught her theology, and to make things worse in their eyes, she was a Samaritan.
According to Jewish teachings, He was not supposed to talk to a woman or a Samaritan, and He was definitely not supposed to teach her theology. But Jesus hated all those anti-heaven rules! So, He not only talked with her, but He turned her into an evangelist! He super-charged her with the acceptance from heaven, then stood back and watched while she brought a harvest of souls to Him.
What is interesting about the Samaritan woman Jesus chose is that she had previously been married five times. Her past was uncovered, yet, she was unashamed in the eyes of the Beloved; she was washed clean from the contempt of society. Through His eyes, she saw herself only as the accepted of heaven and wanted the world to experience her joy!
I have heard so many Christians chastise divorcees [with the first half of] Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that He hates divorce.” But if you continue reading the verse, the reason God hates divorce is because it is abhorrent treatment to the woman being divorced. “For it covers one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of Hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
Understand that the women of this era were never allowed to divorce their husbands, for any reason. No, indeed, that was a “privilege” reserved only for the male sex, and use it they did. For any reason, a man could divorce his wife and keep her dowry, children and any possessions she had, leaving her destitute.
The Samaritan woman came to the well alone that day, and not while the other women of her village were getting water. No, she was a rejected woman who was divorced, who had been passed from man to man. She was the utter explanation of Malachi 2:16: She had been treated cruelly by the men in her life.