If you lived in the first century, how would you respond to Jesus’ counter-cultural teachings?

Mark Strauss helps us understand the puzzling paradoxes of the man from Galilee, with insight from his book Jesus Behaving Badly.

“Sometimes I’ll kind of shake up my students by saying, ‘What if a new church popped up just down the road from you and a charismatic, dynamic speaker was there, but the things he was saying were radically different than your understanding of Christianity…would you encourage your youth to go and listen to him? Well absolutely not, you’d oppose him.'”

In a similar context, Jesus took the first century world by surprise.

Jesus’ message was revolutionary, challenging and different than many people expected. But if they were willing to give it a hearing, if they were willing to open their Bibles,; their Old Testaments, and read the message they would see that He was in fact the fulfillment of their hopes and expectations.”

Jesus was sent to earth to fulfill the promises that God made in the Old Testament. But the way Jesus treated women, more often than not, went against the grain of cultural norms.

He points us towards the biblical account of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42,

“We would expect in that cultural context after Martha complains, for Jesus to rebuke Mary and tell her to get back in the kitchen. That is what we would expect in that Jewish context. In fact, Jesus says just the opposite He says, ‘Mary has chosen the better.'”

Mark adds that women, as disciples and equal with men, would be a shocking revelation in the first century context.

There’s no doubt that Jesus lifted up the status of women in that Jewish context and viewed them as equals with men.

Then why didn’t Jesus have women among his inner circle?

“I think one of the reasons would be the twelve are meant to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel; the twelve sons of Israel. In that historical context it was a closer reflection of that.”

“Within that Jewish context it would have been beyond scandalous to have women in that inner circle, so perhaps, Jesus did it to protect his ministry in one sense, to guard against the kinds of accusations that would have been even more detrimental to his ministry.”

Highlight: Counter-cultural teachings

Jesus in the flesh