Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day 9: Easter . . .

Very early in the morning, what would have been the first day of their workweek, some ladies go to the tomb to complete the burial process for Jesus.  They could not do it on Saturday because it was the Sabbath - a day of rest.

We miss this little irony in the Easter story.  Women went to the tomb.

Who were the last ones to see Jesus alive?  Women.  Who sat and cried at His feet?  Women.  Who are the first ones to head to the tomb?


No, this isn't some women's-rights thing, keep reading.

We forget that Jesus had one of the most liberating approaches to the station of women in His day.  Often you will hear Jesus in the books of Matthew and Luke share parables that include things like women's work (kneading flour, finding a lost coin).  Hebrew scholar Kenneth Bailey says this is significant because talking about women's work among men was considered rude . . . unless there were women present.  Bailey's conclusion is that not only did Jesus directly address and challenge women in matters of discipleship but He also included them in His teaching.

This was at a time when women were supposed to walk behind their husbands in the marketplace and even greeting you daughter in the marketplace was looked down upon.  Men and women sat separately at public functions.  Women were often seen as property.  Jesus seems to not care as much about some of these social rules - especially in John Chapter 4 where He just strikes up a conversation with a woman in public.

So obviously women were pretty important to God,  but again, this is not about feminist theology - we're getting there, be patient.

The key is in the detail of the story.  In Jewish culture, women were seen as emotionally unstable and not qualified to observe or give report about anything.  They couldn't even give testimony in court.

So did  you get it yet?

Women - unreliable - not admitted as witnesses in court . . .
And they are the ones who see Jesus rise from the dead and report this to the rest of the disciples?

So clearly we have a very unreliable account of the resurrection - one filled with women's recollections that can't be trusted because they are women.  Who knows what really happened . . .

 - Or -

The fact that women were the first ones to see Jesus raise from the dead shows us this is not a fairy tale.  I mean, who would make up a story in which the first ones to seem Jesus rise from the dead were seen as unreliable?  If the resurrection is a snowball of a story told to get people to believe something that never happened,  someone early on made a big mistake.  Why would you start with women as witnesses to the resurrection?

In today's terms it would be something like: "And this guy rose from the dead and the first to see him and report it to others were heroin junkies . . ."

Right . . .

Okay , maybe my analogy is a bit strained to make a point but I hope you get how ridiculous it really is to start with an account of women as witness in a male-dominated society.  As far as historical accuracy goes, elements that are retained in a story that could hurt the story's legitimacy are seen as authentic.  In other words - when a story has parts to it that seem to question its own truth  you have to take that as authentic (because no one would make up a story that invalidates itself).  That story is authentic.  That story is true.

Not like this is the only thing that proves the resurrection story is true, but it is a cool way to see how God works.  God likes to bust out of the boxes that we like to place Him in.  He clearly disagrees with our ancient assessment about women - so much so that He gave them ringside seats to the single most important event in the history of man (and woman)-kind. 

Easter is a reminder that we don't have the last word on what is true - He does.  It also shows us a God that we might consider obstinate to the way that we think things should be done.  I would probably have had the resurrection occurring in a palace so a king could see the awesome work of God.  

He picks a small group of poor women.

It makes me grateful that He is God and that He consistently busts open the the boxes I try to put Him in. 

Happy Easter!

No comments:

Post a Comment