WEEK SIX, DAY THREE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SIX THEME: LOVE
DAY THREE THEME: LOVE IN ACTION
SCRIPTURE: LUKE 7:36-50 (CEB)
“One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table.
Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner.’
Jesus replied, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher, speak,’ he said. ‘A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work. The other owed enough money for fifty. When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?’ Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.’ Jesus said, ‘You have judged correctly.’
Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven, so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.’
Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other table guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this person that even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.'”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: This Pharisee is rather open-minded having invited Jesus into his home for a meal. Jesus attends and as a cordial guest, enters and takes his place. He doesn’t make a lot of fuss or assert himself socially, he simply takes his place at the table. But when Jesus is present, you can count on learning something new and energizing!
A certain woman “from the city” knows that Jesus is there and she cannot stop herself from barging in on the gathering and taking the opportunity to thank Jesus for the forgiveness that she has experienced. I can only imagine the scene that unfolds as this woman kneels at Jesus’ feet, wets them with her tears and wipes them with her hair and THEN anoints them with the perfumed oil. Her total humility as she cares for the feet of her savior is certainly not seen in social settings often – if ever!
The Pharisee who is hosting this occasion loses his open mind and judges Jesus harshly for allowing “such a woman” to touch him, thinking, “obviously this ‘Son of God’ is not so ‘holy’ after all to allow such riff raff to come near him much less touch him.” You can just feel the tension in the room as the discomfort and disgust rises.
To me, the Pharisee and the woman are great examples of the broad love of our God. The Pharisee has been steeped in tradition and taught all the laws to make him “holy”. The woman is obviously some sort of sinner – I guess a prostitute or such based on the thoughts of the Pharisee – so she has either strayed from any such upbringing of tradition and law or never experienced it. If she has strayed – that heaps on shame and guilt on top of whatever her “sin” is. In either respect, God loves them both. As humans, we put varying importance on the degrees of sin… a lie is simply no where near a murder, etc. The Pharisee was not in touch with any of his sin – in his eyes he was a good and holy man – a “religious” man of God because of his keeping the law and attending temple, etc. The woman was fully aware of her sinful ways and knows how she is looked upon in society, but full of forgiven love she must thank Jesus!
I am a traditional “churched person”. I have grown up with all the do’s and don’ts of Christianity, and for a long time my living and all that I did was based on those do’s and don’ts of the 60’s and 70’s. It was as if keeping those do’s and don’ts would make me holy. I did the best I could – and a lot of times it was mostly because I didn’t want any of my family to be disappointed with me more than thinking about what God thought about those do’s and don’ts. In my mid to late 30’s I began doing a lot of indepth Bible study through Disciple Bible Study. I began getting hungrier and hungrier at what God’s Word says verses all the do’s and don’ts I had been taught. Some of my do’s and don’ts were being challenged through Jesus’ ways. I wanted to understand the “why” behind it all. I realized that a lot of the do’s and don’ts were forumulated to keep me in safer environments and less exposed to sinful temptation and therefore from making some pretty serious mistakes. It seemed that as long as I stayed away from the mistakes of life I would go to Heaven – which kind of makes me my own savior.
Through Bible Study and looking at the examples of numerous characters throughout the Bible, I learned that even the most “holy” people in the Bible had very dark areas where they made some pretty big mistakes. And I learned that is why God is SO AMAZING – the mistakes don’t bother Him. He can forgive our mistakes, and in the process we learn more and more about Him and through that He can use us more and more for the benefit of others.
I think that one danger of the church worldwide is that it tries to make a “holy” environment rather than embrace “THE HOLY ONE” who makes us holy from within. We are all on different parts of our journey towards our Heavenly Father – some of us are comfortable in safe places when things are all “as they should be” – but don’t rock our boat! Others of us have learned to let go and let God, facing ourselves as who we are and be who we are in God’s sight. Where we are not ‘holy’ – we allow God to work on those areas to bring holiness and wholeness. In life, we always find ourselves in various types of storms where we are challenged to let go of the traditional do’s and don’ts for the sake of the Kingdom of God and allow our lives to be a living testimony to His great love and abundant forgiveness for all.
The true Bride of Christ, the Church, doesn’t hold judgment over others as the Pharisee had in this scriptural account. The true Bride of Christ – the Kingdom of God – has room for all people who are at various levels of living for numerous reasons to come together and learn more and understand more about the God who loves us all!
Lord, help us to embrace each other letting go of all judgment and disdain, differences and imperfections, in order to expand Your Kingdom through inclusion. In You, dear Father, nothing separates any of us from Your love. Thanks be to God that He sent us Jesus who taught us to always look to God for holiness and nowhere else!!!