Eating with Pharisees…

29 Mar

001-jesus-anointedJesus fully entered into the “hospitality” culture of his time making the most of long hours of relationship building around a meal. Luke 7:36-50 describes one such gastronomic teaching session.

Jesus is “reclining at the table” – no quick self-service here, in Simon the Pharisee’s house. The cold eyes of the religious establishment are upon him, watching his every move to see if it conforms to the Law. Everything seems nicely “kosher” until, like the proverbial fly in the soup, a woman appears in this man’s world.

And not just an ordinary woman – a notorious harlot “who had lived a sinful life in that town.”

All the religious alarm bells start to ring. The society of pure separation has been invaded by an “unclean” incarnation. One can almost hear the bouncers at the door coming to chuck her out!

Jesus doesn’t choose his religious friend’s strategy of exclusion. Instead he receives the woman and offers her true intimacy.

Her lips kiss his feet. Think about that for a minute. Her tears fall on his flesh and her long hair dries divine toes. The honest, manly purity of Christ heals years of fleshly abuse by men, redeems physicality and elevates heartfelt love above legalistic dogma.

magdalen-cleaning-Jesus-feet-with-hair-300x200-1-thumb-350x233-28357The perfume poured out generously reminds us of the holy temple sacrifices, and is a fitting epiphany to the inclusiveness that Jesus brought to the world via his living temple, his intimate physical body. His body is still alive and well today, reclining where he is invited and receiving, as a friend, the humble sinners who choose to kneel at his feet.

The Pharisees were not happy and were blind to his fulfilling of their law with sacrificial love. Their “separation mentality” couldn’t handle the “touch” – the living incarnation of God in skin. “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

Jesus then takes the opportunity to teach Simon a lesson.

With the Cypriot bank crisis in the news a parable about lending money and forgiving debt seems quite appropriate. Two men owe money. One owes about 3,000 euros and the other 300,000 (a denarius was worth about a day’s wages). Both men have their debts cancelled…Which of the two men will love the money lender the most? Simon answers correctly saying the “one who had the bigger debt cancelled.”

How big is your own debt?

Thinking back to another story about seeing the speck of dust in our brother’s eye but being blind to the enormous plank in our own, we seem to all have a tendency to not see our own faults. Religious blindness is perhaps the worst kind. Religion can invite Jesus into the house, but he often gets a less than warm welcome by those who seem to need little forgiveness. No genuine “water” of repentance is poured on his feet, no “kiss” of grateful, intimate relationship, no “perfume” of genuine prayer and worship.

The problem for Simon was that he had forgotten how big his debt really was.

“All have sinned and fail short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

If I had been the only person in the world Jesus would still have had to die the same painful death to pay the price for my sin. We have all been forgiven much.

We all have a big debt!

This is actually quite good news, because, “he who has been forgiven little loves little…”

woman_anointing_Jesus_feetDon’t fall into the temptation of loving little. A fresh revelation this Easter of all that Christ has paid for us on the cross can push us towards a more passionate, intimate celebration of our love for him. Refuse to believe the lie that you are a pretty decent sort of person who’s trying, day by day, to be a little better…You couldn’t be worse! We all need Christ to pay our 300,000 euros.

Accept the free gift of a perfect sacrifice that’s does indeed make you righteous.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

May you find joy and hope this Easter. May you recline at Jesus’ feet, enjoying fellowship with him and overhearing his voice saying: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

893392_4755018269029_1841417389_oI trust you have enjoyed this special Easter guest post by Robert Reeve. Rob blogs at writing inspiring devotionals to feed the soul. Do drop by and take a look.

2 Responses to “Eating with Pharisees…”


  1. From weeping to leaping..(1) | A fruit in season - March 30, 2013

    […] You can find another Easter article at Neil Rees’ Eating with Sinners blog […]

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