The Core Sunday Gathering

October 30, 2011

Series: The Sexes
Week 6: Return of the Ladies’ Man

Divide the room into four groups, assign each group a scene from the gospels:

  1. The Syro-Phoenician Woman (Matthew 15:21-28)
  2. The Woman with the Issue of Blood (Mark 5:24-34)
  3. The Woman with the Anointing Oil (Luke 7:36-50)
  4. The Woman Caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11)

Questions for group discussion:

  1. What is the name of your story’s female lead? No name? Give her one.
  2. What kind of reputation does she have? What does 1st century Jewish society think of her?
  3. How does she encounter Jesus? Was it her idea, Jesus’ idea, or someone else’s?
  4. What does she need? Does Jesus give it to her? Why or why not?
  5. How does Jesus treat her? Does he challenge her? Defend her? Both?
  6. Why does it matter that the main character of this story is a woman?
  7. What does Jesus’ approach teach us about his philosophy of femininity?

OBSTACLES

-In every case, there is a cultural obstacle to Jesus’ ministry, and usually two.

                -The Syro-Phoenician Woman is a Gentile

                -The Woman with the Issue of Blood is unclean

                -The last two women were both “sinners” and considered wicked

                -And all this comes on top of being female and generally having no access to the world of men

-But Jesus overcomes these obstacles, in several cases publicly defending the woman in question

        -Or defending his right to talk to her.

-You probably wouldn’t be here unless you’ve had your share of obstacles

        -As humans we naturally try to divide ourselves up into little categories

                -To figure out who is approved and disapproved; who gets the stamp of approval and who doesn’t

                -Some of us will never get the stamp. You already know the reason, because you think about it way too much.

                -That is your obstacle. It always threatens to separate you from the love of people.

                -[VIDEO] Free Hugs

                        -Two wrongs don’t make a right. But sometimes two obstacles seem to cancel each other out

                        -When one costume separates you from people, a second one brings you closer, or so it would seem

                -I know you women deal with this a lot.

                        -[SLIDE] CS Lewis said, we are not bodies who have souls, we are souls who have bodies

                        -These bodies are just our costumes. And ladies, when your costume doesn’t seem to measure up

                        -It’s tempting to pick out another costume that might compensate. That wins you that stamp.

                -But it’s like a contact high, or a beer buzz…

                        -it wears off pretty fast, and we’re left with the original costume.

                -It’s in moments like that, that we have to remind ourselves what real love is like

                        -Where there are no obstacles, no costumes, no prejudices

        -Assign Scripture: Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

LIFTED UP

-In each story, the woman is lowered somehow. She is cast down, or she bows down.

        -The Syro-Phoenican woman is compared to a dog under the dinner table

        -The Hemophiliac stoops down to touch the hem of his garment, then falls down before him

        -The Woman with the Anointing Oil is anointing and kissing his feet

        -The Woman caught in adultery is thrown to the ground

-In each case, Jesus lifts her up. But it’s not always easy… there’s a spiritual trial involved

        -And Jesus longs to treat you the way he’s treated each of these women.

        -Like the Syro-Phoenician woman, he’ll check your faith, to make sure you’re genuine, and not “trying him out”

        -Like the Hemophiliac, he’s let you reach out and touch him, when no one else will let you get close

        -Like the Woman with the Oil, he’ll  let you  in at your point of brokenness, and pour out your heart to him

        -Like the Adulteress, he’ll forgive you, and call you into something better. 

                -To shed the old costume and put on his white robe.

        -And like the Samaritan Woman at the Well, he will give you a purpose, and a voice, to make a difference

-I want women to hear this especially, this morning, but men as well…

-No matter how low you are when you arrive, Jesus wants to lift you up.

        -Sometimes we are put in the place of the Adulterous Woman or the Hemophiliac, lying on the ground

        -And sometimes we are put in the place of Jesus, standing over that person

        -Men, take this challenge. God has not called you to stand over the women in your life

                -or to pick them up off the ground and keep them on their knees in front of us.

        -He has called us to free them up to stand: to embody the equality and honor he created for them.

                -We can’t give them equality and honor, but we can remove our own obstacles, and repent.

-But no matter your gender, you are being called to follow Jesus’ example, to lift up the disgraced and weary

        

[SLIDE] Luke 4:14-21

RYAN: Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

ALL: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 

RYAN: Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them,

ALL: Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."