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How Did Jesus View Women? Kristi McLelland

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 26, 2023 5:15 am

How Did Jesus View Women? Kristi McLelland

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 26, 2023 5:15 am

How did Jesus view women? Professor Kristi McLelland unpacks ancient Middle Eastern culture to better understand Jesus' interactions with females.

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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

Before we start the program today, we have an exciting campaign.

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Go to and I'd say click that button and say, I want to join the family. I want to be a part of this ministry and I want to be an insider. Jesus didn't come, you know, to turn things upside down. He came to turn things right side up. It's back to that restoration, that repair, that renewal, that redemption. And he's not okay with women being against a wall. And Luke 7 shows us that. That makes me cry, just that term.

He's not okay with women being against the wall. Welcome to Family Life Today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. All right, I got a question about Smash. And our listeners don't know what Smash is, but it's our women's retreat at our church called Smash. I'll tell you in a minute what that means. But you've led Smash for decades and something happens to women at Smash.

What happens? Well, I should probably first explain what that is. And it really became a women's retreat, not just to go and, you know, it used to be we just, you know, do crafts and we read the Bible a little bit. And every women's retreat is different, but they're super powerful. And so we decided to name it Smash because for 48 hours, we call it Smash 48, we're smashing the paradigms of what a woman is. And so we're bringing in, this is what God calls us.

This is who we are. And it's really teaching of this is what a real woman looks like. And it's my favorite thing that I do because I look at these women and I sit there and think, look at you. And it's not a feminism thing. It's a God thing. It's like calling out who they are, how God sees them, their gifts, their strengths, their women influence.

They're so gifted and compassionate, strong leaders. There's so many things. And yet I see that the enemy of our soul, Satan, has diminished them to a point where all they're doing sometimes is comparing themselves to one another, feeling so lost and broken and feeling like God can't use them. And so it's a time and a weekend that we say, we see you and we see these gifts and we're going to call them out because God has something for you to do.

Maybe it's be married, maybe it's single, maybe it's using your gifts to teach or to serve or to love or there's so many different things. And it's so amazing. And all I know is, you know, I'm just one guy in our church, a pastor at our church, and I see these women come back. Thousands of us. Thousands.

I mean, yes, a couple thousand a year and they're alive. And there's an identity that they seem to have been transformed by. And so as exciting as Ann's telling this, she's looking across the table at Christy McClellan, who is leading and created a Bible study video curriculum called Jesus and Women. And so I know a lot of what happens at SMASH, although I'm never allowed to go and I can't watch any of the tapes, No Men Allowed, is that.

It's sort of, you know, how Jesus elevates the identity of a woman. So Christy, thanks for being here. And welcome back. And thank you for having me. I want to go to SMASH. I know.

And I'm going to go with you to Israel. You need to go speak at SMASH. Yes.

No question. This is an invitation right here, right now. Well, Christy is a speaker. She's a teacher. She's a college professor. What's your college that you're teaching? Williamson College.

That's right. Middle Tennessee. You went to Dallas Theological Seminary. You've written a lot. But you have this passion. And that passion is one in the Middle East, walking where Jesus walked. But more than that, explain what else that passion is. You know, it was in Israel that I learned a phrase that's changed my life.

And it goes like this. The living God meets us exactly where we are. He never leaves us there.

And for the last 14 years, I've been carrying that because sometimes I think here in the West, we can carry this idea, I need to clean myself up. I need to get myself together, you know, get back in church or go to church more, just fill in the blank. But the story of the Bible is not man going and looking for God. The story of the Bible is God in relentless pursuit of us.

And I love to talk about this very famous parable that we have in Luke 15. We call it the parable of the prodigal son, but in the Middle East, they call it something else. They call it the parable of the running father. And the reason is, sometimes here in the West, we read the Bible and ask, what does it teach me about me?

In the Middle East, they read the Bible and ask, what does this teach me about who God is? And so if we read Luke 15, sometimes we feel like we're the prodigal, so we call it the parable of the prodigal son. But for them, they call it the parable of the running father. So their focus is on the father more than the rebellion of the son, which is really different.

Completely different. And they would say that God is the point of every story in the Bible. He's the hero of every story.

He's the pursuer. You know, you even look at like a Hosea 2, where the Lord says, I'm going to allure her, being Israel, into the wilderness, into the desert, and there I'm going to speak tenderly to her. And it's there in the wilderness. You think about the wilderness seasons of your life when you didn't know what to do. Life had broken you in half. You were on the floor. You can't see tomorrow.

You don't know how you're going to get through the next hour. And it's in those wilderness seasons that the Lord comes close and says, I will speak tenderly to you. And he goes on to say in Hosea 2, you will no longer call me my master.

You will now call me my husband. And, you know, a rabbi once said God does some of his best work in the wilderness. It's so true. It's there that we get really close to him. I think in our brokenness and in the quiet of our brokenness, we hear the Father. I think we're so busy sometimes in our world and when things are going well, we're just running so fast. But in the brokenness and the quiet, we call out to. And what I've realized is God is always there. He's just been waiting.

Maybe he, as you said, he's running to us. You know, I pulled up, it's been so long since I've heard this song and I should grab my guitar and do it, but I won't. Have you ever heard the song When God Ran?

No. Yeah, I mean, it's really old. Listen to these words. It says, Almighty God, the great I am, immovable rock, omnipotent, powerful, awesome Lord, victorious warrior, commanding King of Kings, mighty conqueror. And the only time, the only time I ever saw him run was when he ran to me. He took me in his arms, held my head to his chest, said, my son's come home again, lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes with forgiveness in his voice. He said, son, do you know I still love you? It caught me by surprise when God ran. And it was just as beautiful.

Come on. It's what the title of your parable is because we tend to focus on the prodigal son or the elder brother. You know, we're one of those. And we miss the whole significance of the whole story. I mean, in a Jewish culture, a dad is not going to run. You could enlighten us a little bit about that.

Yeah, share some of that teaching. He's standing there waiting and he runs. You know, this honorable father has to leave his home twice in that story to go get both sons because the younger son takes his inheritance and squanders it in the far country. And the older brother, by the end of it, he's out in the field refusing to come in the house to celebrate the younger brother coming home.

And in that world, you know, for 14 years of taking teams to Israel, I have asked both Israeli and Palestinian men, what would you do if one of your sons asked you for your share of the inheritance before you died? And what would you do if one of your sons publicly disrespected you at a feast or a festival or a party out in the yard for everybody to see? And I get various answers, but they're all in the realm of he'd get in really bad trouble. Because in both instances, it makes the father look bad. It's shameful. Or he's embarrassed. Back to that honor shame world.

Yeah. It's very shameful. And so this is this benevolent father who takes the shame and yet runs to go get his sons and to bring them back into the house. And this is the story of the Bible.

You know, the greatest metaphor that God uses from Genesis to Revelation to describe his relationship with us is that of a shepherd and sheep. And one of the things I learned while I was studying there is when a sheep gets separated from the flock and recognizes that it's lost, when it figures out that it's, uh-oh, I took a wrong turn. It doesn't turn around and try to come back. It hunkers down and starts crying out to be found.

And that's the story of the Bible. It's not about, oops, let me clean myself up, let me get it all together. Or let me figure it out.

Let me figure it out. It's let me just hunker down in my mess. Let me hunker down in this devastation. Let me hunker down in all of this pain. I have no idea what's going on.

I don't know how to move forward. And I'm just going to cry out. Like, God, you've got to come find me.

If I'm going to make it home, it's going to be because of who you are, not who I am. And the shepherd leads the 99. To go after the one. Yeah. He's running. And Jesus says, and he looks for it until he finds it.

And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and carries it home. Wow. I love the Scriptures, too, because you see everything happening. And that was that culture, too. It's very different than the culture of teaching we have today. Talk about that a little bit, because I think it's good as parents as we're teaching our kids the Bible.

What's different? You know, I'll tell you a great story. In Psalm 19, it talks about that the Scriptures are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. And I love honey, being a rural Mississippi girl, and I like honey in the honeycomb as well.

And in Israel, rabbis will visit little kindergarten classes, little kindergarten yeshivas, and they'll bring wax paper and honey in, and they'll lay the wax paper down in front of the kindergarten students, and they'll pour some honey, and they'll invite the little kindergartners to dip their finger in it and taste it. And while they're tasting it, the rabbi will say, this is what the word of God tastes like. It is good for you. Eat it. Take it in.

It will do its work. And I think there's a difference in reading the Bible and eating it. Sometimes we read the Bible like an Aristotle, Socrates, or Plato.

You know, it's up to our intellect to understand it. It's up to me to dig something out of the word of God to feed myself today. But the posture of the Jewish people is that the Scriptures are the Lord's, and He's the one that breaks them open and breaks them down into bite-sized pieces and is feeding it to us. And so we can take it in.

We can let it do its work. Where is the word of the Lord? The Jewish people would say, it's inside of you. We carry the word of the Lord with us. Well, I know even the way that I used to try to teach the boys when they were younger, we'd just sit down and read the Bible. And I realized, as I was reading the Gospels, I thought, Jesus just taught along the way.

If He was in a field, He's talking about grain or the mustard seed, and you can tell that He's talking about what He's seeing in the moment. So I remember, like, doing things like we'd have scavenger hunts where I would hide, I would take Scripture and I would hide it, but then I'd put a little prize with it. And I remember saying, like, when you discover, when you dig in God's word, it will be like a prize. It will be, the more you dig, the more prizes you'll find, and God's word will start changing your life. And I thought, man, that way of teaching is so much better than just a classroom.

And I think that Hebrew culture has that kind of teaching. And it's back to family, and it's back to if the Scriptures are like food, if the Bible is like a great meal, great meals are best experienced with great people. Nobody goes to a really great restaurant to eat a really great meal all by themselves.

You're right. You want to do it with your people, with your family, and the families that go to Israel with me, I tell my students at the college, eat the Bible with your family. Eat it with your friends. Get around a table and everybody just read a passage. It's not even about always, what are you getting out of this or what are you getting out? Because the Scriptures are an adhesive. They bind us to one another. They bind us to the living God.

They connect us. And I love taking families to Israel. I took a family of seven one year. A mom, a dad, there are five children.

The children were ages, I think, seven to 16. And sometimes at dinner at night, just sitting around with all of them, hearing the way the seven year old was processing what she had seen that day, the way the 16 year old. And I really talked to them as a family about starting to read and eat the Bible together. And I ran into them about a year ago, and they've been doing that. And they talked about just at first, it's super weird because we're just going to sit around and read the Bible together, really.

But they took the adventure and the Lord's just been meeting them as a family in that space and in that way. And we all like great food. So if we can even move from the sense of like reading and studying the Bible, which gives you a sense you can get it wrong. Am I smart enough? Am I fast enough?

Am I good enough? To man, the scriptures are like a feast that the living God has prepared for us. And we get to just eat it together. We get to carry it inside of us and let it do its work.

Jeez, if we would teach our kids like that the word, they're like, I want to get what's in there. Well, I mean, in some ways, you're just showing us what Deuteronomy 6. I'd love to know how you approach that passage, the Shema. But I mean, it says, you know, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. And then here it is.

It's just what this family is doing. And you showed them, you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in the house. And when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise, you shall bind them as a sign on your hand. So talk about that. That's this beautiful picture of devouring scripture in a community and specifically in a family.

Absolutely. Is there something that's like in that passage that can inform us? You know, the idea that the rabbis have given us in Hebrew, it's called simlev. Simlev means to set upon.

Lev is heart in Hebrew. And what it's talking about as you go along the road, just day in, day out, the rabbis talk about we want to simlev the scriptures. We want to set them upon our hearts. And a student asked a rabbi, you know, rabbi, I thought we wanted the word in our hearts. David said, I've hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. So why don't you say, let's hide the word in our hearts.

Why do you say simlev? It said it upon our hearts. And the rabbi responded. He said, my son, the human heart can tend to be hard, but when life breaks it, if we had set the word on our hearts, the words just fall in the cracks.

And take their place. I mean, that is one of the things that struck me when I was in the Holy Land. I didn't appreciate or understand the visual of the Hebrew language and really the Hebrew people. It was like everything had a symbol to it, a visual to it.

We've lost that, I think. It's words. And they smell it, see it, taste it, live it. The Hebrew language not only is a letter, but it's also a symbol and a number. Isn't that true?

For sure. Yeah, seven is God's number, the number of wholeness and shalom, six is man's number. So, you know, rabbis will communicate theology using numbers.

Wow. So in the beginning, God created the world in seven, Genesis one and two, everything was in Eden. In Genesis three, you have the fall of man, now we're living in six, waiting for God to restore seven, which happens at Revelation 21 and 22. So it's really fascinating. But just that whole idea of sim-loving, I think that's the repetitive. Nobody eats once and they never eat again.

No family eats one meal and never eats again. So in the repetitive eating of the word, we're sim-loving it. We're setting it upon our hearts so that as life knocks us around. And we've all been knocked around.

Yeah, and I think of what we've talked about with Deuteronomy six. I think it's easy as a father and a family to think, I'm going to leave my family to eat once a week. Church. And that's my job. I get them to, that's being a spiritual leader, I'm going to get my family to church, which is great.

It's awesome. But if I want them to eat regularly, me as the dad and mom, it's like, let's do this daily. Instead of physical food, which we're going to do, spiritual food and nourishment from Scripture.

That's my role. That's one way I can leave my family is to say, this is nourishment for our soul. We don't eat once a week.

You'd almost die. And as you said, and it binds us together. It pulls us together.

And even if you have teenagers rolling their eyes. I remember Dave saying, like, if a preacher is boring, it's not because God's word is boring. It's because the preacher isn't doing a good job. And that's what you're doing, Christie. You're bringing Scripture alive. And it's exciting for anyone to be around. You've got to go back to women.

That's what I was going to say. I've got to go back to something because, you know, your video series is about that. And there's so many stories in the New Testament. We've already talked earlier about the woman at the well in John 4.

And I know Ann wants to go a different place than I want to go. One of the stories I've loved, and it really, I think, gets at your justice of lifting a woman out of shame is Luke 7. I've taught it many times.

I'm guessing I haven't, you know, mined out what's really in there. But this sinful woman at Simon's house, walk us through what Jesus did there. Man, that is a fascinating story. I like to call it the woman against a wall.

And why did you call it that? In the first century world, we know historically sometimes the wealthy or the wealthier, those with means, because there is zetica, back to righteousness and generosity. They'll invite their friends to come eat at their table. But you also invite the poor and the marginalized to come to your home, but they sit against a wall. And they get the leftovers. Historically, they get whatever's left over. And we think, who would do that?

How disrespectful. You're going to invite me to your house and tell me to sit against the wall. But if you're hungry, you'll do whatever it takes. To get food. To get something to eat. So the fact that she's there, and Jesus and the rabbis are sitting there, the religious leaders at Simon's house. And it's interesting because when we're sitting at a table right now, you can't see us, but 2,000 years ago when they're sharing a meal, they're on a pallet on the floor. Always on their left elbow because you eat with your right hand. So obviously the head is close to the table.

The feet are away from the table. So now we understand why Jesus's feet were the closest thing to her because she's sitting against a wall and she loses it on Jesus. I mean, when it says that she starts wiping his feet with her hair. And tears.

And tears. This is a moment that's going down. And I like to talk about Jesus rearranging that room because by the end of it, she is not against that wall. He has brought her out of that shame. He's restored her. He sends her away.

I liken it to sometimes you don't want to fight in front of your kids. And so he completely brings restoration to her, sends her away. And then he addresses Simon and starts talking about all of these norms of hospitality that are honorable and an honor shame world that you didn't do for me. And it's like by the end of it.

Go through some of those, Christie. So the kiss of welcome when they come in, Jesus mentions on the washing of the feet. They would give you olive oil, sort of like soap to sanitize your hands, different things like that. And apparently Simon did not extend any of those to Jesus, which is him saying to Jesus in that world, it's very disrespectful. I'm not going to honor you as an equal. You know, you're kind of like a young pup coming up. You're a new rabbi. You know, Simon's probably much older. And so you see Simon in a hospitality world of honor and shame acting very shamefully and not extending these things to Jesus that he lists in Luke 7. And we see this woman and a lot of scholars think that what she's doing in the anointing of defeat is she's trying to recover what Simon wasn't doing. She's trying to extend some of those hospitality virtues to Jesus in a very honorable way.

And so it's a great story. I always say Jesus didn't come, you know, to turn things upside down. He came to turn things right side up. It's back to that restoration, that repair, that renewal, that redemption. And he's not okay with women being against a wall.

And Luke 7 shows us that. That makes me cry, just that term. He's not okay with women being against the wall. Why is that?

What do you mean? What hit you? I think so many women feel like that. And they feel powerless. They feel forgotten.

They feel less than. And the fact that Jesus lifts us up, that he notices that, that he calls us out and then sends us along the way. I love that with John 4.

You know, I just see that when he renews someone, he offers their hope and their dignity back. So I'm sitting with two women who might know a little bit of what it feels like to be the woman against the wall. What is that? What's that feel like for a woman to feel that outcast? It's funny, when we were describing that, the first thought that came to my mind was my sister, who's amazing. She led me and guided me into a relationship with Jesus. But she was sexually abused for eight years. Marriage was really hard. She was bulimic. She was anorexic.

And she was sitting against the wall because she thought, I have nothing. I'm broken. I must be shameful. I'm unworthy. I'm unworthy to be at the table. I'm unworthy to be seen. If people really saw me, they would be disgusted. And I've had a lot of that myself, and I cover it all up. You know, I'm strong. But honestly, that's that inward part of me as a young teenager. Like, I'm trying to be loved, but I don't have anything in me that's lovely enough to be loved. And so I think there's so many of us, a broken marriage, someone who's been divorced, someone who's been abused, somebody who's been abandoned. I think so many of us women are sitting against the wall and Jesus sees her.

What do you think, Christie? You know, the first thing that came to my mind when you asked the question was just anything that diminishes us, weakens us, comes against us. Two of my dearest friends in the world, both of them have buried sons in the last 18 months. I think of the loss, the collective loss that we've all experienced since 2020, loss of income, loss of community, loss of being able to go to church, broken relationships, strained relationships, loss of hope. I think all of those things make us feel like we're up against a wall. It's the things that tempt us to hopelessness. It's the things that tempt us to believe that God is not everything that He has said that He is. I know the things in my own life. When I say the diminishments, it was when life came at me so hard, it just knocked the wind out of me. I think of my dad dying suddenly when I was 21 years old and a senior in college and didn't even have the skills to really deal with that kind of trauma and tragedy and loss. I've been to counseling now, I've been through a few phases of therapy and counseling and to seek after that wellness and to receive the wellness that the living God had for me. But the interesting thing about the woman against a wall, and it's part of why I think I call it that is, and I don't know if you would say this, but I think every single woman, if you were to ask her that question, something would come up inside of her.

Yes, I agree. I don't know of a woman that we would ask that question and she would say, you know, life has just always gone my way. Everything always seems to work out for me. I don't know that woman. I don't think she exists.

If she does, I'm kind of jealous of her right now. So I think it's universal. And I mean, since it's universal, I think it's men as well. There's things that make a man feel like he's up against a wall.

Yeah, those are the first things that come to my mind. You know, I think, and back to that story in Luke chapter seven, you know, one of the things that Jesus says that's so powerful is he looks at Simon, who's the Pharisee and the host. He's the religious guy, the scholar, the big wig, wearing the big bridges in the moment. And Jesus looks at the woman and he says, Simon, do you see this woman?

And it's kind of a rhetorical question because Simon sees her sitting there, but Simon doesn't see her. Jesus is the one who sees her against the wall and has this sense of, I'm not okay with this. I've come to make, I've come to bring things right side up.

By the end of this story, you will be restored and sent away in Shalom. I think too, as I read this story, I think that the woman really probably didn't have much, but she gave him what she had. And as women, we can feel like I have nothing. I have nothing to offer you, Jesus. And we do. We can offer him our lives, our gifts.

Like I've said that so many times and I was 18 years old the first time I said it. God, I don't have much to give, but I give you all that I am. I give you my life. And I don't know what you're going to do with it, Lord, but I'll go wherever you call me to go.

I'll do whatever you call me to do. And I could say that because I realize, oh, he's a good father. Oh, he loves me. He's not, I used to think like, I'm not doing that.

Who knows what he'll do? But I've come to realize he's such a good, good father. And this story of seeing the woman at the wall reminds us of, oh, he sees us, he knows us. And what a sweet thing and an offering for us as women to give him whatever we have, our gifts, our passion, our dreams, our lives.

Music You know, when our hands feel empty, but our heart is sincere, God is welcoming to us when we believe we have nothing to offer him. What a beautiful reminder as Anne and Dave have been talking with Christy McClelland on family life today. Hi, I'm Shelby Abbott, and Christy has written a book called Jesus and Women, a Bible study book in the first century and now. This book helps you to gain deeper insight into the biblical world, including giving you a fresh perspective on familiar Bible stories, specifically through the eyes of women. You can pick up a copy at And while you're there, I want you to know that May is really a special time for all of us here at Family Life.

Not only is it springtime, which I personally love, but it's a unique month that God has blessed us with. Any gift that you give all month long will be matched dollar for dollar. So if you give a single gift of $50, it becomes $100. Or if you give a recurring monthly gift of $100, for example, it becomes $200 for the next 12 months. So would your home be able to give hope to someone who feels hopeless today? This month, we're looking for 350 new partners to join Family Life as a donor.

Would you be one of those partners? You can go online to, or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that could be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift. The number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Or you can feel free to drop us something in the mail.

Our address is Family Life 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832. Has your faith ever felt like it's just on its last breath? You know, maybe like those times when it all seems like everything's lost and God feels very distant. Lena Abu-Jamra is going to be here with us next week, so we hope you'll join us as we talk about what to do when your faith has been fractured, when it seems like it's beyond repair, when hope feels like it's lost. If that's you, we hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-26 06:41:40 / 2023-05-26 06:55:42 / 14

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