I believe that we women do not need to begrudge the fact that Jesus was male. We do not need to be bitter. We don’t need to feel left out. What is truly interesting is that Jesus had interaction with women at all. In a patriarchal society, the male Jesus spoke (and acted) very clearly regarding his opinion of women…and it was good. Jesus advocated for women, allowed women to serve in the same roles as men, Jesus gave women dignity and value; He made it clear that women were as much his priority as men.
I have an older sister, Jennifer. She carries within her part of me, just as I carry part of her within myself. Sisters are connected, bonded and unexplainably tied together. They often have much in common, characteristics which draw them closer together.
And yet, even with sisters tied together by family and blood and life experience, each one is unique. Each one is given gifts and characteristics all her own, needs and desires unique to her. Even sisters, one of the closest of relations, are created distinctive as an individual.
In any given situation there is no guarantee that my sister and I will respond in the same way, nor do we need the same response from those around us. Just like any two people, we are unique. Look at two other sisters in the Bible, Martha and Mary. Read part of their story here: John 11: 17-35.
Often our focus in this story is on Lazarus, but I want to look at the sisters. As you study the text, what do you see? In verse 21 and 32 notice what the sisters say to Jesus. Interestingly, both of them say the same thing: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But look at the way that Jesus interacts with each sister! Very different situations result from the same statement. Why is this?
Jesus approaches each sister individually, according to her need. When Martha and Mary approached Jesus after the death of their brother, they needed different things; they were at different places in their grief.
How amazing that Jesus meets us where we are! There is no formula that Jesus abides by, there is no certain response. Jesus approaches every person individually, according to their need and according to the circumstance. We are each unique, created special and different from everyone else – and so we need different things from Jesus. At any given point in our lives, we need a different side of Jesus. One day we may be like Martha and need theological discussion and assurance that he is in control. The next day we may, like Mary, need Jesus to weep with us at a moment when words do not suffice.
As we see from this story of Martha and Mary, Jesus sees us as individuals, he understands us as unique. Jesus recognizes our need and meets us where we are. What a comforting thought: it is not just that God so loved the world, but that God loves us, and not only that but God loves me. We are loved individually, we are cared for as the circumstance demands, we are met exactly where we are by Jesus who makes it clear that we are a priority.