Jesus, Actually: Jesus in the Margin

May 12th

Writer: Casey Fiore

Key passages: Matthew 15:21-28; 27:45-56; 28:10; Luke 24:1-35

Big Idea: In our cultural moment, women have been in the spotlight. Before Me Too, Jesus brought clarity to the value and care of anyone who was marginalized or diminished including women throughout the Gospels. Practical: Jesus always brings people in the margins of society to the forefront, so we will too.

Invest and Invite Challenge: Whom are you investing in and inviting into the story of Jesus?

A few weeks ago, just in time before the release of, Avengers: Endgame, my husband and I saw Captain Marvel. I understand Wonder Woman came first, and we can argue the merits and pitfalls of that film if we meet sometime in the lobby at Calvary, but suffice it to say I am a Marvel girl to the core.

Captain Marvel is not only the story of a capable, butt-kicking, dry-witted female protagonist, but also a celebration of female friendship. The core of the film is the relationship between Carol Danvers and her best friend (and fellow pilot!), Maria Rambeau. About 30 minutes into the movie, I thought, “Is this how guys feel at the movies all the time?” I grew up watching action movies with my mom, and I never seemed to miss a female lead, but Captain Marvel flipped a switch.

A palpable cultural shift has taken place in America over the past couple years. The Me Too movement, and everything that came with it, brought women’s stories, experiences and power to the forefront. Whatever your politics, it’s important to remember that highlighting the significance and value of those in the margins is what Jesus’ ministry was all about.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus interacts with people on the outskirts of good society. He breaks cultural norms. He engages in an eternally meaningful way with those who held no power.

In Matthew 15, Jesus heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman. This woman would have held no significance with most religious leaders. In fact, as a Gentile and part of a race who were an ancient enemy of Israel, she would have been reviled. Jesus tests her faith as she asks for mercy, and answers her persistent belief with, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”

When Jesus rose from the dead, the first people He appeared to were women. This is not a fluke. No part of God’s plan for the redemption of His people is an accident. In the cultural moment, women were among the least of society. And to whom does Jesus first appear to in His resurrected body? And to whom does He give instruction to tell the rest of His (male) disciples? Women! Jesus’ example should lead us to bring power to the powerless and hope to the hopeless. In God’s economy, no one’s value is diminished.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Matthew 15:21-28:
    • What stands out to you about the woman’s petition?
    • What stands out to you about Jesus’ response?
  • Share a time when someone you know showed strong faith in difficult circumstances?
  • In the cultural shift we’re experiencing today, what aspects are in alignment with Jesus’ example and teaching? What aspects do not align with His teaching?
  • What can you do this week to highlight the value of those around you?

Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that God would enlarge our hearts to see those who are marginalized in our culture and that the Holy Spirit would inspire us to reach out with love and mercy.