What might Jesus say if He were to speak to the average man and woman? Plenty of men and women know Jesus, but what might Jesus actually say to us if He were to speak to us directly, face-to-face?
Scripture helps us locate the biblical Jesus. Obviously, we need to be cautious, but we may frame responses Jesus might have to the average man and women around the things we know.
From the outset, I must declare my biases; even though I am firmly in the egalitarian set, I see there are distinct gender differences, and at times, in certain situations, gender roles. I believe women should teach and preach if they are gifted and passionate – and not just to other women or children. I believe women can be the senior leader in organisations – that they can lead men – again, dependent on gifting and merit. I believe we desperately need both genders in solving complex problems in today’s world and church. That will give you a feel for what I believe.
What might Jesus say to men, to women, and to each group about the other group?
We could imagine Jesus advocating gender equality, so women are taken on face value – for what they offer – so they are not pigeonholed or stereotyped. We might picture Jesus looking at a man with consternation who would have a woman ‘put back in her place’. This represents the biblical Jesus who stopped to talk to women in His day, even those of other religions, rejecting social norms. Jesus ensured women were eye witnesses (when men were not) to key moments in His life, death, and resurrection – at a time where women had no legal rights to testify as witnesses in court. Jesus was even supported by key women. And with Mary and Martha, we learn that Jesus elevated the learner and seeker in Mary above the housemaid, Martha. Jesus applied standards of the day accorded to men, to women. And He used even a ‘lower life form’ of that day – children – with which to communicate who were the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven – that’s right, children! Jesus’ Kingdom is an upside-down kingdom.
Indeed, the depiction often presented of Jesus as our friend doesn’t present an accurate portrait of the biblical Jesus – who would stop at nothing to challenge us if He needed to. And, let’s face it, is there a day that goes past when we shouldn’t be rebuked? I am sure Jesus is not as congenial as we like to think He is. We can think of this in today’s terms of being convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent. The fruit of repentance should be thriving in all Christians, where Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Anytime we proved legalistic or showed pride He might deal with us like He did the Pharisees. But the time when Jesus would be especially affable would be when we are suffering injustice, are being excluded, are overwhelmed by anxiety, or are suffering abandonment – when harm has befallen us.
I imagine Jesus telling men that they must learn to control their anger; that they are to treat all women with the respect they often save for other men out of fear or face-saving. I think Jesus would tell us men that older women ought to be treated like our mothers, those of the same age as our sisters, and those who are younger as our daughters – with implicit love, respect, and safety. Jesus is an advocate for children, and He might implore men to treat children preciously, diligently, carefully, and again, to be very vigilant regarding anger.
I imagine Jesus telling women to turn their back on social norms of prettiness and image, where the objectification of women is rampant. Jesus must be telling us men that we, too, ought to advocate jettisoning these norms, and actively repel the pornographic culture that sets women up as liking things that they do not like. Now, there is nothing wrong with a woman enjoying her physical appearance, just it’s her choice. I also see Jesus asking women (and men, too), as is characteristic of some women, mainly younger women, to tone down aggression. But by far the most aggression still comes from men. Men, women deserve better than our aggression. Women, don’t go down the path of aggression. Men get scared too.
I imagine Jesus telling women to respect men, but not unconditionally. Respect is generally earned. And it is easier to respect someone who is seen to be respectable. Men, imagine Jesus inviting us into humble respectability.
Of course, this has merely whetted our appetites, but that’s where I’m leaving it.
On earth as it is in heaven… imagine it; no quibble about, and an appreciation of, gender differences.