“Do you see this woman?”
June 12th, 2016
Introduction: I had occasion to go to an O’s game this past Tuesday evening with Brad Shenk. We always try to go to a game when the Kansas City Royals are in town. Brad is a KC fan and I am, of course an O’s fan. Aside from the tragic on field fight of the evening, I rather enjoyed the game since my O’s beat the Royals 9-1, but that is not why I am telling you about attending the game. More this year, than in recent years, I seemed to notice, and Brad did too, the homeless persons on the streets of Baltimore. As we walked back to my truck for the ride home, one situation in particular caught our attention more than the rest. Most the people had signs asking for money, but there were two people laying on the sidewalk actually trying to sleep. Or at least they appeared to be asleep. I always struggle with how should I, as a Christian, respond? I’m sure I am not alone with this thought here today.
Our text for today takes us to something of a similar situation in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus has been invited to dinner party being given in his honor by a Pharisee named Simon. No doubt other pharisees will be there as well. Jesus has become something of a celebrity and everyone wants to see what it is that makes him special.
No, the dinner table isn’t like anything we use today unless we are living in a tribal village in a desert in the middle east perhaps. The scripture gives us the picture of a typical banquet in that day with a low table and the men laying on pillows, being served by servants, with their feet stretched out behind them.
Ex. I had occasion to eat in such a fashion while I was in Israel some years ago and had dinner with Father Abraham. We were the honored guests and we “reclined at table” in the tent of Abraham. We in our day expect to sit up right, eat our meal, and move on to some other activity. In the culture of the middle east then and now, the meal is a big social event, and is very important that guests are treated with respect and honor. Remember this as we talk about this text and it’s meaning for our lives today.
Simon’s big issue, as it is with many people today, is that he struggles with prejudice plan and simple. Many of us here today, myself included, struggle with some form of prejudice. The other night seeing the homeless persons on the streets of Baltimore brought my prejudice out again. “Why doesn’t someone do something about getting these people off the streets as I walk on by to my nice vehicle and home to my comfortable air conditioned house?”
A.) Jesus is reclining at the table, turns to the woman, and talks to Simon, got the picture?
1. Rabbi Jesus talking to a sinful woman in a public setting would be nothing short of a scandal!!
2. Yet here he is in the midst of a dinner party in his honor breaking social norms and taboos!
3. He is asking Simon if he sees the woman.
4. I suspect Simon was trying hard to ignore her and embarrass Jesus all at the same time.
5. Jesus sees a human being, created in the very image of God, Simon only sees a sinner.
B.) How many times when we look at a person, any person, do we pass judgement on them without even knowing them?
1. I wonder about the homeless person holding the sign, begging for money, on the corner.
2. Yes, I wonder about the person with tattoos and piercing, Garrett, and what motivated them to do such a thing?
3. I wonder about lots of things in the human condition and how we can ever find peace with God and love and grace of God even for our own live.
A.) There is within the passage a series of contrasts for us to take note of.
1. The woman’s actions are contrasted with Simon’s.
2. We see that Simon’s actions towards Jesus are far from the what is expected of a “good” host in that day.
3. Simon must have received very little grace in his life because he “loves little.”
4. He has not even met the basic standards for hospitality, the woman on the other hand does that and much and much more extending hospitality to Jesus.
5. Her actions are exceptional for their extravagance, she exceeds the minimum requirements for hospitality to a guest, let alone a guest of honor!
6. She has loved much and has done so as a result of being forgiven!
Ex. The Greek here is the word, apheontai, which means to be released to the maximum possible.
7. Her loving behavior comes from the depth of her having been forgiven!
III.) The dinner party
A.) We might just call this event, “The Lion’s den.”
1. It is a hostile environment to say the least.
2. Jesus is always walking into what appear to us as traps, yet he comes out smelling like a rose, so to speak.
3. The host and all the other guests are trying hard to intimidate and put down Jesus.
4. Theological correctness is the order of the day rather than loving action.
5. The other pharisees are very caution to keep it under their breath so to speak, and not to speak out loud.
6. Jesus on many occasions demonstrates the ability to read peoples thoughts and here in this setting we see him reading Simon’s thoughts as well as the rest of the groups thoughts.
7. Jesus praises the woman not once but twice for her actions and the depth of her love.
Conclusion to message: What I take away from this passage is just this, everyone is welcome at the Lord’s table when they come with an open and sincere heart. Seeking love and forgiveness and demonstrating love and forgiveness to others as well. We are set free from the worlds law and codes of balanced reciprocity. Jesus has re-balanced all things and made all things new. Through his cross he has made a place for all who will come to him.
Today, I want to extend an invitation to everyone here to come forward for anointing. There are three bowls here at the front. One has salt water in it, one has scented oil, and one is a packet of hand wipes.
Is there something you need to ask God for today? Go to the salty water and as you pray, dip your finger in the bowl and make the sign of the cross on your cheek.
Is there something you would like to thank God for today? Go to the bowl with the scented oil and as you pray, dip your finger in and trace a cross on the back of your hand.
Is God calling you to serve in some way or someplace? Then take a hand wipe and as you pray wipe your hands with the hand wipe as symbol of preparing yourself for service to others.
Anointing is a powerful symbols of the Holy Spirits presence with God’s people leading and guiding us in every aspect of our lives! Amen