Theologian Stanley Grenz once observed, “[Jesus] treated every woman he met as a person in her own right.” According to a new book, The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing of Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels by Frank Viola and Mary Demuth, Jesus’ encounters with women tell us more than we might assume. Here I dialogue with co-author Mary Demuth, a prolific author and blogger, about at doesat the stories in this book teach us about God, life, and gender.
RNS: You say that Jesus’ interactions with women were “shocking considering a woman’s position during that time.” Is this true and, if so, why is it significant?
MD: It’s significant because [tweetable]Jesus reserved some amazing Scriptural truth exclusively for women.[/tweetable] Consider his interaction with the Samaritan woman in John 4. She is part of a maligned race according to Israel, is a woman alone at a well and culturally should not be addressed by a man, and she is portrayed as immoral. But what does Jesus do? He has the longest recorded conversation with anyone in the Gospels. He reveals He is living water. He explains what true worshippers are. He says that a time is coming where the Kingdom of God will be for everyone, not simply Jews. And when she articulates truth about the Messiah, Jesus says, “I am He,” giving her a clear Messianic proclamation. Her interaction with Him and her subsequent sharing with the village results in Jesus essentially evangelizing a town of Samaritans. She is a missionary.
RNS: You include a diary entry from the woman with the flow of blood. What does her story say to modern readers?
MD: Many suffer from chronic conditions and feel abandoned by God. The woman with the issue of blood not only suffers from an incurable illness for more than a decade, but she also experiences social ostracizing as a result. Imagine not being hugged or touched for 12 years! She represents those who physically suffer and those who hurt emotionally. She doesn’t presume upon Jesus. She knows her smallness, yet she is desperate enough to risk defiling Jesus by touching his cloak. Most likely crawling to touch Him in the lowest place. And yet, even in her quiet reticence, Jesus notices her. Listens. And then he heals her. She is restored physically and communally in one beautiful instant. While Jesus may or may not physically heal us today, he absolutely notices us, meets us, and helps us heal from our wounds.
RNS: You recall story of the woman caught in adultery. What’s going on behind the scenes here?