Jesus offered the greatest gift to the Samaritan woman

There are many stories in the gospel that show how Jesus teaches Christians to treat women. My favorite is The Samaritan Woman recorded in John 4.

Jews did not speak to Samaritans, definitely not Samaritan women. Jewish society was male-dominated. Women were considered inferior and assigned almost the same status as slaves.   

The Samaritan woman comes to the well at the hottest hour of the day, shunned by the other women and shamed by her reputation. She had five husbands and was presently living with a man.

The Bible does not say why she was divorced five times. Women could not take action against an unfaithful husband, but a husband could divorce a wife for any reason.

Maybe Jesus knew that it wasn’t the Samaritan woman who couldn’t get it right with five men; that maybe it was about a Samaritan man who couldn’t get it right with one woman and that became the catalyst; the Bible does not say.

Jesus’ attitude toward women was different. Jesus has a long deep conversation with the Samaritan woman — which is probably the most profound discussion of theology in the gospels. He offered her help with her past, present and future. He offered her a well of living water springing up into everlasting life. Jesus showed her respect, compassion and worth.

— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston

Jesus was probably the first recorded feminist

This question is especially relevant now, when reports of abuse against women are pouring out of the woodwork like toxic sludge; when supposed Christians are waving away allegations of disrespect and abuse as if they don’t matter in the slightest and are then claiming to be the representative of Christian values. I feel certain that none of this behavior is condoned by Jesus.

The fact is, Jesus was probably the first recorded feminist, in that he did not differentiate between men and women. He treated them the same, and he offered them the same respect and dignity.

In order to appreciate Jesus’s radical inclusion of women in his life, his teaching and his salvation, you have to understand the Hellenistic culture of his time. In ancient Rome, women were considered only slightly above the status of slaves, even in their own homes — unable to make decisions about how the household was run or how their children were raised.

In ancient Judaism, women were not allowed to learn the Torah or to enter the main part of the temple to worship.

And yet, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see our Messiah including women in his ministry, teaching them in the same way he taught men (Luke 10:38-42), defending them against the injustice of hypocritical men (John 8:1-11), sharing his theology and his grace with a foreign, disgraced woman (John 4:1-42) and being worshipped by women in the most profound way (Matthew 26:6-13). Finally, in the end, he gave the very first task of sharing the good news of the resurrection to women, not men.

In other words, Christians are supposed to treat women the same way we treat men — with the dignity, respect and honor owed to every child of God.

— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)