GRUMPY OLD MEN
Recently I was with three couples, all in the senior age bracket, and each wife had the same comment to make about her husband – how nice he was to others but when it came time to interact with his wife, how difficult he became. My eye surgeon was a grumpy old man ( he retired a week after my cataract was removed) and ‘fortunately’ I had had enough experience in dealing with his type of dialogue, not to become angry with him. Now , I am not going to go down that path, except to say that I do feel it is a situation to be explored from a medical point of view, but what it did do was make me think of how Jesus reacted to women.
Of course, Jesus did not get to the age of being classed as a grumpy old man, but we do hear of even younger men ‘dying’ of ‘man flu’ for example – in other words, when something goes wrong, life is all about them – wives never have to suffer such debilitating conditions! I realise not all men are like this, but the proverbial joke is not without some truth.
So let’s look at Jesus, in the setting of a patriarchal society. Yesterday I read an article about Malala Yousafzai, that wonderful outspoken teenager from Pakistan, and who was shot by the Taliban at age 15. Maybe her background was more extreme than in Jesus’ time but it did give a contemporary example of how women are treated in a patriarchal society – her father certainly bucked the system by treating his daughter equal to a male, starting with a good education.
Jesus never put down women; he never ignored them; he never treated them any less because they were women – just read the gospels for examples of this behaviour as there are plenty there.
But what has always really amazed me, is Jesus words to his disciple John, when Jesus was slowly dying in absolute agony on the cross. ( John 19:26-27) “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother ‘Woman, here is your son’ . Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’ “. What man, slowly being suffocated and in excruciating pain, can think of someone other than themselves? And that is just the human side of the story – the theological one for Jesus was even worse. Yet here is Jesus, reaching out to his mother. That really gets to me, that Jesus is still capable of such love, even under these horrific circumstances. I sure would not expect that of anyone.
The Bible tells us quite clearly, that Jesus was both God and human, but the human part – how much of this was ‘male’? Physically we assume him to be male, but mentally/emotionally? Was his thinking typical of any men of his time? If anyone has done or read of a study on this subject please let me know as I am sure it would be really fascinating to explore this further.
Why did Jesus think the way he did? Could he have grown into a grumpy old man?
Or did Jesus show us what should be normal in society and give us an example that we should follow?
Love was his message; Jesus is God and God is Love.