Friday, March 30, 2007

Jesus the good woman

Luke 15:1-7 presents Jesus as like a good shepherd, searching for a lost sheep. Luke 15:8-10 presents Jesus as like a good woman, searching for a lost coin.

The church has been very happy to tell me about the first, Jesus as good shepherd. But why has the church been strangely silent about the second, Jesus as a good woman?

Strange, because a feature of Jesus is the way he includes both male and female. 27 times the writer of Luke matches a story about a man, with a story about a woman; starting with the angel appearing to Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1; followed by Simeon and Anna blessing the baby Jesus in the temple in Luke 2; through to men and women being present at Jesus death and resurrection. 27 times.

As Kenneth Bailey, Finding the Lost, notes, Jesus is remarkable for the way he affirms both women and men as “full and equal participants in the kingdom of God.” Surely this pairing has something to say about women in ministry.

Posted by steve at 06:54 PM


  1. There’s an angle I have never considered. Thanks for stretching me to think further on the text… which is ultimately wrestling further with the Word, the living Jesus. Cheers.

    Comment by Will — March 31, 2007 @ 3:28 am

  2. Aaahhh, good! I never thought of that before.

    Comment by David — March 31, 2007 @ 5:00 am

  3. I can only assume what is meant by smacking, but
    I understand it to mean a slap of the hand. There is a place for spankingfor sure, but not with the hand. It is not the spanking with a short rod of sorts that is the issue but what comes next.

    If what comes after is a loving hug and a reafirmation of the value of the child as opposed to the value of his behavior then the parent has
    carried out the responsibility of correction in a redeeming and necessary but practical way.

    Comment by MFEMFE MFEMF — March 31, 2007 @ 5:49 am

  4. In the U.S., “women in ministry” is more accurately an issue of “women in Authority.” Is that what you are saying, too?

    David Malouf

    Comment by David Malouf — April 1, 2007 @ 5:58 am

  5. David,

    I don’t live in the US, so I am not making any sort of comment about the US.

    I am simply reading the text: and saying wow- the male:female pairing is SO distinctive, so stand out. and then the resultant question: why have I never heard this? why have I been told lots about Jesus the good shepherd, but nought about Jesus the good woman? what’s gone on?


    Comment by steve — April 1, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

  6. Regarding Jesus “the woman”…I guess the reason the church never speaks of Jesus as a good woman is because Jesus is never claiming to be a good woman, He is a Man. It seems pretty simple. For a man to say that he is protective of his kids like a mother hen is Not at all saying that he is a woman. Jesus actually says, I am the good shepherd. He does NOT say, I am the good woman.
    The passage in Luke 15 is not speaking of Jesus when it describes the woman looking for the coin. It is a parable describing the delight people have (and God has) when they find something that was lost. Remember also that this is a parable. In this parable things have been lost. Can God or Jesus (who is God) lose something? Of course not! He is God. So your equivalent immediately breaks down. Jesus does not lose things, nor is he a woman.

    All this talk of God as mother and Jesus the good woman is just pandering to the cultures we live in. In doing so we are molding the Bible in our image and fooling ourselves into thinking that we are being culturally relevant and that we will reach people better that way. Nonsense!

    Steve, I think Wayne Grudem’s book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? as well as D.A. Carson’s book Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church are good books that speak truth-fully and powerfully to our current situations, whether in NZ or USA or UK, etc. But more than that, let us re-examine ourselves to see if we are truly Biblical in our thinking.

    27 times mentioning a man and woman does not speak to the issue of women in ministry. But it clearly shows that God views men and women as of equal value in His sight. It does not, however, speak to the issue of leadership Roles.

    Comment by Rick — April 7, 2007 @ 9:20 am

  7. Pandering to culture Rick? Where? This is a post about the Bible. Pure and simple.

    In Luke 15 Jesus is defending his ministry. So it’s a passage about ministry. In defending his ministry either Jesus is the good woman, or God is the good woman. Either way, you have a pretty radical way of describing God in what was a patriarchal culture.

    Does God lose things? well the world I am currently part of sure ain’t the world God intended. that’s some loss.


    Comment by steve — April 7, 2007 @ 9:32 am

  8. Steve,
    I guess our presuppositions are so different that we are speaking past each other. The Bible teaches that God knows all things. If so, then He loses nothing. This world, which God is fully sovereign over, is not out of His control. Things may look that way to us, but God does not see it that way. God has no Plan A and Plan B. All things are Plan A to God. Yes, even murder, abortion etc. How can I be so insensitive to believe that? Because the Bible is Truth and it teaches that all things work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. It says that God is the one who chooses where we live, when we are born, who will be saved, etc. It says that God causes the rain, the storms, the hurricanes, the tsunamis, etc. God even makes people deaf, blind, and crippled. God is not contrary to the Open Theists) worrying/hoping that things will all turn out fine in the end. He knows the end from the beginning. Since the Bible teaches this, and since it also teaches that He is good and just and fair, we need not worry about all the evil in the world…what we should do is to try to alleviate this suffering and reach out to the lost. If God knew about all of this evil and yet still chose to create, then He must have a plan that will make things right in the end. Maybe we cannot see that now, but that is where faith and trust come in. Human reason alone cannot figure this out. God’s revelation in the Holy Scriptures is the only way we can make any real sense out of suffering and pain. Even then, as humans, it is hard to suffer and it is hard to see others suffer. But to say that this is not how God intended it is to deny that God is in control, that He has no perfect plan.

    The passage in Luke 15 may be talking of Jesus’ ministry but if you read it closely, you will find that Jesus is not teaching that he is a good woman. He is using these three parables to show that He is one who goes after the lost. He is not saying that He IS a good woman, or that he IS a father, or that he IS a shepherd…he is explaining that he reaches out to sinners and eats with them (verse 2) because he has a heart of compassion, of concern for those in need. He then goes on to show this by using 3 stories. Again, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd,” but never said, “I am a good woman.” I think we must be more careful not to read into Scripture what is not there. Using Luke 15 in reference to the role of women in ministry is a mistake.

    God’s passion is for His own glory, not for the comfort of humanity. Whatever gives God more glory is best and that, I believe, is why He created knowing that all of these terrible things would happen. In the end, He will be glorified and that is the ultimate good.

    AND, I have not even begun to speak of the wicked hearts that we humans have. Our hearts and minds are desperately wicked and deceitful. So much that we don’t even understand it. The question we often ask is Why did God do such and such, Why does God send people to hell or why does He allow pain and suffering?

    I believe a better question is: Why does God save Anyone? Why does He give us God-haters air to breath? Why does He keep providing for our needs? Why does he give us rain, sunshine, etc?
    God is too good to all of us. When we suffer, we deserve it, for we have ALL turned our backs on a Holy God who hates sin. Why? Why is God so good to us? I have met so many people who have said that in their suffering they gained great riches in life, for it was the pain in their lives that helped them to see the blessings of life in a new and richer way. They also found that their relationship with God was increased in a profound way during their cancer or during the death of a loved one, etc.

    God is God and we are not!

    Comment by Rick — April 11, 2007 @ 7:08 am

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