Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Diners

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
Luke 7:36-50, Jesus dines at the home of Simon the Pharisee. His feet are attended to by a "sinful woman."

• I am envious of Jesus’ handling of situations.
All the more reason to spend time with him, learn from him to be like him.
All the more reason to worship him as Lord.

• Today’s interaction with a Pharisee, not the first interaction in Luke (nor the last)…
First was in chapter 5 when a man’s friends lowered him through the roof of the house Jesus was speaking in… There were Pharisees (
Φs) there – Jesus’ healings and teachings had caught their attention, and the house was crowded. Remember what Jesus said to the paralyzed man? “Your sins are forgiven.”

The Φs began to think to themselves “who is this who speaks blasphemy? No one can forgive sins but God alone?” And Jesus knew their thoughts, their judgment, and he shamed them.

• Second interaction with the Φs was in chapter 6… the Φs question why Jesus and his disciples were disregarding Sabbath law by gleaning wheat… and Jesus heals a man… on the Sabbath. Well that episode ends with “[the Pharisees] were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.” (6:11)

• There’s a third mention of the Φs, right before this episode, a parenthetical statement that the Φs rejected God’s purpose for themselves because they had not been baptized by John (7:30).

• So we get to this scene in Luke 7:36, a Pharisee has invited Jesus to dinner, and I have to wonder: Why? What did this Pharisee want to accomplish by hosting a dinner for Jesus? Was he looking for a way to accuse Jesus of something? Was he hoping to actually learn something? Was it a status thing? Did he do it to be seen? Whatever the case may be, we find out he didn’t wow anybody with his hospitality.

• And in the second verse of the reading the scene turns to an uninvited guest, a woman from the city, a sinner, we’re told, who breaks all kinds of social rules as she comes in, cries on Jesus’ feet, wipes the tears with her hair, and the pours perfumed oil on them.

• According to the narrator this woman is a sinner, and the Φ's inner monologue indicates to us that a man of God should not allow such a woman to touch him…
And it’s not the first interaction Jesus has with someone “unclean” as it were… we’ve seen Jesus touch the dead (7:14) and leprous (5:13), and Jesus has been touched by many.

If Jesus is striving for ritual cleanliness, well, he’s failing.

But we read in 7:34 that Jesus was a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.”

• So just as I wondered why did the Φ invite Jesus to dinner, I wonder Why did this woman do what she did? I wonder if she did it out of desperation, tired of being judged as a sinner – I mean she’s invisible. We don’t know her name, we don’t hear her voice, we just know that she’s a sinner, that’s all she’ll ever be known as, and she’s desperate to be known even just this once as a human being, she longs for it enough to risk everything for a chance to be known by Jesus. Somehow she knows that Jesus is safe. (fruit of repentance?)

• And Jesus sees her. He doesn’t look at her and see a sinner, he looks at her and sees a human being, a child of God, a sister a daughter. Jesus sees her. And although the Pharisee obviously sees the woman as well, Jesus points out that he actually *doesn’t* see her (Do you see this woman? 7:44)… he just sees a sinner, someone who would make him dirty, someone who a righteous person should avoid.

• What can we take away from this story?

-Judge not (we heard recently in Luke 6:37!) Judgment belongs to God (Deut 1:17), humanity and mercy are better than judgment. Judging the woman as unclean (as the Φ did) may have been true but it did nothing to bring redemption, instead it fortified separation.

-As we brought up last week, God does not always act in the ways we’d think he’d act – His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9)

-Jesus is more than a prophet or a good man – he has the authority to forgive sins
(Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner)

-There is forgiveness, even peace (shalom wholeness salvation!) in Jesus (nothing can separate us from his love, Romans 8:38-39)

• I look forward to the day when people will see people as God sees people, when God’s invitation to all people is celebrated by all.

• In the meanwhile, I’m a sinner, 
I’ve been seen by Jesus and saved by Jesus, 
and I strive to see like Jesus. 
Soli Deo Gloria -- To God be the glory!

• Closing Hymn 66: To God be the Glory

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