Updated: Dec 17, 2022
When I look at men, I see very little in common. I think differently, act differently, respond to things differently, look different, have different body parts, and have different processes that take place internally that men will never experience or understand. In the Christian walk, we see men and women as having very distinct roles as well. The man is called to lead, and the woman is called to submit. The man is called to die to himself and give up his life for the sake of his wife and children. The wife is called to gather and create with what she is given. While men are called to give to receive women are called to receive to give. It is all a part of the divine plan. For instance, in the story of creation, a man named Adam must give his rib up to receive a partner, Eve. Eve must receive the rib from Adam to give herself as a partner to Adam. In the story of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob must give seven years of labor to receive Rachel. Rachel must wait to receive Jacob in marriage and then give him two sons, Joseph, and Benjamin. In the book of Esther, the king must take her hand in marriage for her to receive her inheritance on earth as a Queen. We see in these brief illustrations how different men's and women’s roles are on the earth. You would think that with the way of the world now that this reflection would be about roles, yet it is not. As I thought about the roles of man and woman what came into my spirit was a different question. God how am I made in your image and likeness? Jesus came down to us as a man. He also gave himself up so that we might receive eternal life. So, his role was very much in alignment with the role of men. In the physical, Jesus is a man. He also refers to us (the church) as his bride, which makes him the groom. So again, he takes on the male role as the groom. He also, at the time took on a masculine job as a carpenter. Although we now see that role filled by both men and women.
The longer I sat in this thought, the more it came to me that while women do not stand in a similar role as men, it does not mean that Jesus did not show up in parts of both genders. In fact, throughout scripture, Jesus took kindly to women, and they are notably highlighted in scripture in a positive light.
The more digging I began to see that some of the responses that Jesus gives in conflict and some of the ways he expresses himself began to show glimmers of the beauty of women. I began to see myself in him and that was comforting. Specifically his mercy and compassion. In Matthew 9:36 it says, “When he saw the crowds, he was moved with compassion for them because they were wearied and cast away, as sheep not having a shepherd.”
Jesus was showing his feeling side, which often we associate with women. It is often the woman who is filled with compassion that prompts the male sphere of influence around her to sway or to act. It is interesting to meditate on the portrayal of Jesus being filled with compassion as men were not portrayed in this period with “weaker” appearing emotions or feelings. Jesus again is quoted as being moved by compassion in Mark 1:40-42 for the man with leprosy. He touches him and says, “be healed”.
When I think of my life as a little girl and as a woman, I think of all the times I was in pain. It was my mother, who was moved with compassion. She often would reach out her hand and lay it on my forehead when I was sick, and she would say things to me to bring me comfort.
The night before his crucifixion, Jesus is said to have gone off to pray where he wept before God. Again, weeping is likened to females more than to males. Juxtaposed to this image of Christ weeping in a garden think of the group of women described in the book of Luke standing in the crowd. As they were watching Jesus walk to Golgotha to his crucifixion they were weeping, moved with compassion, and in anguish for the torturous pain Christ went through.
It is not to say that men do not possess compassion, mercy, or cry or should not show these things. It is simply not an expressed norm. These traits and responses to pain illustrate the very real emotions and gentle nature of Christ that is so much in the genetic makeup of women. Thus, Jesus may not be the physical manifestation of women, but he certainly shows up in our DNA in other special ways.
In scripture, it also states that Jesus shed his blood as a sign of his cleansing all of mankind of our sins. It also states in John 19:34 that “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”
It is because of Christ's bloodshed and sacrifice we have eternal life. I began to weep when I recognized how Jesus manifests in the lives of all women through the shedding of our lining and blood every month as well. The female body goes through a cycle every month. She must shed her lining and blood to cleanse her body to be able to receive from man should they conceive. In a very minor microscopic way, a woman cleanses her body of blood and the old so that she can receive new life in union with a man should they come together as one. In the same way by accepting the body and bloodshed of Christ. Man, communes with Christ to receive new life. To receive life without sin.
Therefore, purity between man and woman is a holy and sacred act between one man and one woman. As they commune together, they become the fullness of Christ and they then have the power to create new life. It is less a bodily urge and more a supernatural manifestation of the greatest glorification of Christ. We become the fullness of his likeness and image together. So it's not that being man or woman is better, but that together we represent the whole. Man in this instance is the image and woman is the likeness. Man shows the image of God in their physicality and in fulfilling his role as the groom dying to himself to serve his family. The woman is his likeness in submitting in humility as Christ did and in her expression of compassion, mercy, healing, and creating good things with which she is given. In holy marriage, man and woman give and receive to create new life, just as Jesus selflessly gave of himself to give us new life. Together we are the image and likeness of God. So, to each woman and man reading this reflection, remember that both man and woman are created in the image and likeness of God. We each show different parts of him and together with both man and woman we can showcase him in his fullness.