Luke 7 contains one of the most dramatic stories of love to be found in the Bible. Jesus was invited to a dinner party with Simon, who was a Pharisee.
It was customary for guests to recline on pillows, prop themselves on their left elbow, and eat with their right hand.
They were seated in a horseshoe shape with their feet extended to the rear. Servants brought food to the inside of the circle and provided it to the gathering.
It was not unusual for uninvited guests to linger at the edges and watch the proceedings.
What was unusual was a notorious woman of the city, who went beyond the bounds of respectable behavior.
Luke described what happened like this.
— Luke 7.37-38 – 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.
The woman’s behavior was quite out of the ordinary, but not to God. In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross describes how her behavior was a picture of what took place in the Temple.
Her behavior was another witness to the importance of Jesus and God’s agenda through him.
Who was this woman?
Tradition has identified this unnamed woman as Mary Magdalene, who will be introduced in Luke 8.
If the woman was Mary Magdalene, she was delivered from demons at another time that was not mentioned in Luke’s Gospel.
Her expression of devotion to Jesus would be the natural response of grace, forgiveness, and deliverance.
Whoever she is, the woman represents the poor and marginalized persons to whom Jesus came to serve.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4.18)
Jesus saw the woman as poor, captive, and oppressed. Unfortunately, Simon the Pharisee saw her in a different light.
— Luke 7.39 – 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.”
How are we like the “bad guys?”
When I read the Bible, my tendency is to think I am Jesus’ “pet,” who would always have the right attitudes and actions.
It is easy to point at the Pharisees and think, “I’d never be like that.” However, all too often we are like them – at least, I am.
I asked Rudy how he would respond to a woman who acted like this toward one of his customers at Fric & Frac. He said, “I’d throw her out.”
He explained that as the host he has a responsibility to his customers. It would be negligent of Rudy to allow a woman to come off the street, take off a customer’s shoe, and weep over their feet.
Rudy has never had to interrupt a situation like the one I am describing and neither have I. Nevertheless, I can identify with the Pharisee.
It is like my brain goes on automatic pilot when I see certain people. I mentally catalog them and pass judgment on their character without taking the time to know them.
Like Simon the Pharisee, I could be completely wrong in my estimation of the situation.
Living a Jesus-kind-of-life
I hope you don’t read my blog articles or watch the videos only to check a box on your duty to God.
The reason why the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to include this story in his Gospel is to encourage us to be like Jesus.
What can we learn from Jesus in this instance?
— Tomorrow’s article will focus on the subject of forgiveness, faith and love. I look forward to writing that one.
— Today’s short passage shows us acceptance in action.
Pride keeps us from receiving from others. I am personally more comfortable in the giving role than in receiving.
Jesus knew something that we need to learn. There are times when the most loving thing we can do for someone is to receive the gift they have for us.
As Jesus received the love and devotion of this woman, he both accepted the gift and the woman she was.
— We need to recognize that Jesus saw the woman, but Simon only saw a problem.
We can learn from Jesus to see the person who lives in the “clothes” of the problem.
Frank Laubach built a relationship with the most dangerous tribe of people in the Philippines.
Rufus Moseley ministered to every death row inmate in George and prayed with them on the day of their execution.
Starr Daily was befriended by Glenn Clark while serving a 20 year sentence in prison. Clark was able to print articles by Daily in the “Atlantic” magazine and upon his release welcome Daily into his ministry.
You may not be familiar with the names of Laubach, Moseley, and Clark, but they were some of the most significant Christian leaders from 1920-1970.
They imitated Jesus’ ability to see the person, rather than the apparent problem of the person.
Please take a few minutes to read the entire episode of Jesus at the Pharisees house. God wants to teach us how to live like Jesus in this passage.
Rudy Ross will expand your thinking about this story if you will watch our YouTube video on the Bob Spradling channel. If you take the time, you will be glad that you made the effort.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.