Luke 7: 24 – 35
After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
Jesus was a party animal. If you can believe it he was derisively called a “glutton and a drunkard” by the Pharisees. He was always being invited out and with Jesus anyone around him was caught up in joy and celebration! Jesus described what it was like for his disciples to be with him as being with the bridegroom – MAJOR party time. Then there was the wedding at Cana where he filled water jars with 150 gallons of wine after the wedding had already been in full swing for some time! I mean really, one jar of 20 to 30 gallons probably would have done the trick. Being in Jesus’ presence is being in the ridiculously generous presence of the creator of the universe who loves to bless his children with all manner of good things!
But the Pharisees already had their own path, a rather ascetic path, which they expected everyone else to follow. And here was Jesus Christ the superstar blowing their path to bits again and again. They had refused John’s baptism because they already saw themselves as right with God. Now they were refusing the celebration of light, love and healing that was Jesus. They were not able to acknowledge their own hypocrisy, their own pride or their own emptiness as they clung to and interpreted human traditions, refusing to let the light in through the cracks. Pray that you will be able to see the light, even when it affronts you, annoys you or upsets you.
Noon Day Prayers Question
I’ve got this! I can handle this. I know what I’m doing. Isn’t it odd that when we are being our normal competent selves that we may well find ourselves standing outside God’s grace? The Pharisees were religious professionals, fully committed to understanding and living God’s path as laid out in scripture, but when they were relying on their own strength, they were missing what God was doing anew in their day. Just so for us now. When we figure we know what is right and how things should be done and then someone charismatic comes in full of grace and suggesting another way, will we find ourselves in God’s way? Surrender your certainties and your treasured ways of doing things now to Jesus. Ask, is there something new afoot that I am missing?
Luke 7: 36 – 50
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “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 answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Of course not all Pharisees were the same and God loved everyone of them. Jesus worked hard to give Simon a chance to see the light. Simon was respectful and gracious but not going out of his way to honour his guest. Having a famous sinner come into his house could not have made him happy. Poor old Simon, though Jesus really gave him a hard time. We can only hope that he finally saw the light.
I have been forgiven much and therefore love much. How about you? Reflect on these things…