One man was a Pharisee, a religious leader zealous to maintain a sinless posture. The other woman was in all likelihood a prostitute. The Pharisee invited Jesus into his home and whether by oversight or by intent failed to offer the common amenity of providing water for his guest to wash his feet. The woman, taking advantage of a custom that allowed the poor into a home for scraps, bathed Jesus’ feet with grief-stricken tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them in profound reverence and perfumed them—perhaps with the very oil she once used to lure men.
Luke 7:39--When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she’s a sinner!”
What amazes me about Luke’s account in chapter 7:36-50, is not the love Jesus shows the woman, for Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (19:10). It is the callous hardness of the Pharisee that arrests my spirit. He focused on a sinful reputation and was oblivious to a broken heart. He failed to understand Isaiah’s words, “Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted”(53:4), and therefore doubted the legitimacy of the Prophet next to him. The smugness of personal piety quenched any awareness of need. The intrusion of a desperate doxy upset his tidy dinner plans.
Forgive me, but I can’t help but wonder—is this not an accurate caricature of the church? Do we congregate in our safe buildings, sing lovely songs and pontificate over Scripture all the while put off by the desperate affairs of ungodly people? Does the Savior we worship bear any semblance to the Savior who ministers? Why is it we can recite His parables and yet ignore their applications? While the Pharisee at least knew the reputation of the woman in his home, I find that most of us know little to nothing of our neighbors. He recited law; we recite security as an excuse to maintain fences. He found fault with the Master and we judge him for it, yet we do the same thing. We don’t say it openly, but our unwillingness to share Christ with others reveals our discomfort with His commands. In the presence of God’s Son, it is disturbing to think that we might be more concerned at maintaining order at the expense of delivering grace. The Pharisee worshiped at the altar of legalism. How many of us worship at the altar of protectionism? Is it possible our society is becoming more secular because we are so consumed with our Christian clubs? God will surely judge us if we withhold love because we were more concerned with our religious convenience.
Jesus said to a woman’s unspoken request, “Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven . . . Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (7:48,50). She received the gift of life, the host received a lesson in love. What lesson will we learn from the Master?
I think sometimes we will be covered with shame when we meet the Lord Jesus and think how blind and ignorant we were when He brought people around us to pray for, or gave us opportunities of warning, and instead of praying we tried to find out what was wrong. We have no business to try and find out what is wrong, our business is to pray, so that when the awakening comes Jesus Christ will be the first they meet.--Oswald Chambers inThe Philosophy of Sin
©2005 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)