Who is this Jesus?

mg1UmvUSo I had a run-in with Tertullian this week.

There I was, reading author and pastor John Ortberg’s recent book Who is this Man?, and I came across this quote, from Tertullian, describing how early Christians became known for their love and compassion:

“It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving kindness that brands us in the eyes of our opponents.”

Pretty good right? I mean, may it be so today!

Don’t get me wrong. I wish Tertullian had applied the thought to the women in his day, that his vision for the “brand” was not gender specific. But as a stand alone quote, it’s pretty solid.

And it’s certainly true of Jesus.

In chapter 4, Ortberg puts Jesus’ treatment of women under the microscope. As he does, it’s clear that Jesus not only treats women with compassion, but also with dignity, respect and trust. In many ways, Jesus turns the prevailing culture regarding women on its head.

For instance, here’s Ortberg’s take on how Jesus empowered women to serve alongside men in his ministry, from Luke 8:1-3:

“Jesus offered women a new community.

‘After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women…: Mary (called Magdalene)…; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.’

We can overlook how shocking this arrangement would have been in the ancient world. Women did not travel with men. They often were encouraged to simply remain indoors…

Jesus had women and men travel and study and learn and do ministry together. Imagine what kind of rumors flew around.”


As I’ve begun engaging issues of male privilege in particular and gender equality and partnership more broadly, sometimes I find myself primarily speaking the language of sociology. After all, there’s culture to critique, social interactions to reconsider and language to challenge.

So, now and then, it’s important to remember that this is all about Jesus.

Fully engaged as the incarnate God.

Free with power.

Friend to women.


2 responses to “Who is this Jesus?”

  1. misselizabennet says :

    Rob – thanks for sharing here, on Jessica’s blog and last week at your seminar. It was great to hear more about how you and Layla view partnership in our ministry context.

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