Don’t let the legalistic folks define your spiritual path

Jesus was at a dinner and what happened during that dinner shows how Jesus never turned away someone because of what others thought of that person. We find in Luke 7:37-50 – “Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.” (Verse 36)

Now in those days when you have a public figure over to dinner the door to where the meal was taking place would remain open so that folks could stop by and listen to the discussion. So when this woman stopped by, it was not anything out of the ordinary, what was out of the ordinary was that she left the sideline and actually interacted with Jesus. The first part of the story is told in the following verses. “And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. And kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.“ (Verses 37-38)

Not only did this take courage on the woman’s part, but it also took sacrifice. She brought perfume, which had to have cost her dearly. There is no mention of what this woman was accused of, but we know that the Pharisee knew her and had a pretty low opinion of her. So imagine how much courage it took on her part to do this. It shows the depth of her belief and her desire to be near Jesus.

The story continues, “Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” (Verse 39)

Remember this was a Pharisee a leader of the faithful, a power broker and a person who opposed Jesus and his teachings or at least doubted Jesus. His thoughts are a prime example of that doubt. It also demonstrates the attitude of the day that it was necessary to keep away from sinners so that people did not find themselves somehow soiled. Yet here is Jesus actively seeking out sinners, actively seeking out those that society looked down on – how could he be a true prophet or teacher?

There was no element of care or love; it was very much a judgmental society. Jesus however, preached that everyone should love and care for others no matter what. That if someone truly repented from his or her sins, and then God would forgive those sins. Jesus also knew what the Pharisee was thinking and it becomes clear in the words in the next verse “And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” (Verse 40)

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus always seemed to know what those around him were thinking. He would then pose a question or make a statement that dealt directly with what that person was wondering. The parable Jesus tells then deals directly with the issue brought up silently by the Pharisee.

The next three verses tell this part of the story “A money lender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” (Verses 41-43)

Sounds simple doesn’t it? It is obvious that the one who owes the most when forgiven will of course be the most thankful, that goes in all types of matters.

Then the next part brings alive the true human element of those involved. “Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.” (Verses 44-46

Now it was not required of hosts that they do any of those things, but it was customary to make your guests feel welcome and at home. The fact that this sinner did these things shows a great deal of faith on her part, there was no guarantee that Jesus would have accepted her offerings. The woman never speaks, never utters a word, and to me this shows the old adage that actions speak louder than words. She is demonstrating gratitude, boldness, and humility of faith.

First Jesus posed a question for Simon and Simon’s answer made sense. A person forgiven for a large debt will be more grateful for that forgiveness because that alleviates a heavy burden from their minds. Jesus points out how Simon had neglected to provide even the most basic hospitality. Simon is too busy thinking how awful that woman is and looking down at her and at Jesus for accepting her.

Jesus then goes on to say “ For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” Then He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’” (Verses 47-48)

The woman demonstrated love and her tears showed repentance. In the world today, it seems like many preachers often act like Simon. They criticize those who are sinners, they judge them harshly and often they make themselves rich by preaching a gospel of anger and judgment. It seems like many are not really in the business of bringing people closer to Jesus, but are in the business of making things look good on the outside. When a person who has fallen is encounter, is the proper action to reach out to them to pick them up or to walk around them? Walking around them to avoid being soiled, results in the soiling of the soul and a failure to act like Christ. Jesus never walked around He always walked up to them, no matter their situation in life.

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