Thursday, October 6, 2016

6 October 2016
Luke 7:36-50

Good morning, welcome. What happens when a religious leader invites the Son of God to a banquet, and a sinful woman shows up? Another story of expectations, acceptance, and what God is really like.

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. (Vs.36-38)
The Pharisee’s house must have been at least partially accessible from the street. At the very least, the woman knew who Jesus was (having learned he was eating [there]). The story seems to imply some prior meeting. On the other hand, merely hearing Jesus speak would have been enough to transform her heart. In either case supernatural power is at work.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” (v.39)
But Jesus did know what kind of woman was touching him-what she had been and what she had become. Luke is setting up another confrontation based on the expectations of a religious leader; expectations that prevented him from recognizing God when He visited.

A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” (V.41-42)
Now we come to the heart of the matter. The woman accepted God’s justice; now she was fulfilling God’s purpose. Note that from God’s perspective justice does not always involve receiving what we are rightfully due (see, for example, Ps. 85:10-11)-the woman’s sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love (v.47). This is a key Kingdom principle and well worth remembering as we reflect on our own behavior (and frame our worldview, as well).

Do you see this woman? (v.44)
Jesus could just as easily have said ‘What do you see when you see this woman?’ In fact, He is asking us the same question today. What do we see when we look at the poor, the homeless, those struggling with mental illness, the chronically ill who have no health care or cannot afford their prescriptions? What do we see when we look at people whose faith traditions are different from ours, or have no faith at all, or whose gender preferences or skin color are not the same as ours? The list goes on. Simon saw a sinner. Jesus saw a child of God, made in His image; one in need of restoration, not condemnation.

Therefore, I tell you, her sins…have been forgiven…”Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (vs.47, 50)
I believe the human heart was made to respond to love; this woman is making my point. Simon would have a ‘religious’ nation by legislation-imposition of will (see Mt.11:12; Jn 6:15). Jesus demonstrates (and grows) His Kingdom one restored heart at a time; accepting God’s justice and fulfilling His purpose.

 Luke does not tell us how Simon responds to all this. How about you? What do you see? How do you respond?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. JRG

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