Thursday, June 9, 2016

...who is forgiven Luke 7:36 - 8:3

Luke tells a great story about a Pharisee, Jesus, and a woman. I thought sounds like the great start to a religious joke. But it's really, for me, been an invitation to see the breadth and depth of God's love and mercy.

The pharisee, a devote religious man invited Jesus over for supper. Luke 7:36-38
It was early on in Jesus' ministry, but there was already friction between Jesus and many of the Pharisees. They knew he was a wise teacher but, there was something in Jesus ministry that just went too far. Jesus spoke forgiveness. He declared God's love not just for the holy or the the nearly holy. Jesus dared to speak God's love and forgiveness to real live sinners. And this really got under the skin of the religious elite.

It's been that way from the start. There's been tension between the religious, who believer they are holy and righteous on their own, and the God who sent his son into the world to save sinners by dying and rising. There's tension between self-righteousness and righteousness that can only be received by faith. That friction was there in Jesus' day and it's here in our day too.

So a woman with a bad reputation, the kind that everybody talked about, she stepped into the home of ae Pharisee. Jesus was there as an honored guest reclining at the table. And this woman, the one with the terrible reputation, knelt down behind Jesus. She brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She wept and the tears washed away the dust that covered Jesus feet.

The Pharisee, Simon, looked and thought to himself, this is so sketchy, if Jesus was a real prophet he would really know what kind of woman she is. It's tempting to say we know exactly what her sin really is. It's tempting to say it's some particular sin—but Luke leaves that detail out of the story. What we know is she wept over Jesus feet. Enough tears rolled down her face to wash away the dirt and dust that came from walking in sandals on dusty roads.

But Simon doesn't get it. He looks and he sees this woman and likely says to himself, “She's a lost cause." Maybe he thinks to himself, "not even God can forgive these sins” But Jesus knows exactly what Simon's thinking. Jesus asks a question about two men with forgiven debts. Luke 7:40-43

Simon saw a sinner too far gone. And Jesus saw a person who he loved and forgave. And this woman she showed great love for the one who had forgiven her so so much.

There's no doubt a lot to her story. Maybe you've found that sometimes people's stories have stories and stories. I mean the longer I live—the more complicated I find real living people's stories become. The older I get the harder it is for me to sort people into easy categories. Who is right with God and who is not—only God knows the true faith of our hears. There's depth to each of our stories—depth that we can speak of as joy and pain—and even depth that we don't speak about. And this woman came into the presence of Jesus as one who is already and completely known.
Peace and thanks for reading, John