First Mennonite Church
November 15, 2015
“I Have Something to Tell You”
Text: Luke 7:36-50
As we begin to prepare ourselves for the festivities and everything that comes with Thanksgiving Day, I want for us to start by meditating on this passage. To express gratitude is what is intended on Thanksgiving Day. Luke 7, verses 36-50 can help us move closer to achieving that intended goal this Thanksgiving season.
The minute we read this passage, we readily realize there are some things about two of its characters we do not like. We do not like the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee. And, we do not like the adjective used to describe the woman who washed Jesus’ feet.
The first is about Simon. Simon thought he was blameless. He was in fact a member of the religious elite. Pharisees were admired. They were called masters or teachers. They were dedicated learners of the Torah and teachers of it as well. The Pharisees were strict observers of the law, therefore, practiced all the rituals of purity and went at length to avoid being defiled, at least outwardly.
We see Simon, contrary to Luke’s assertion that “the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (v.30) he dared to invite Jesus to a meal at his house. We would not have known of the quality of Simon’s hospitality to Jesus if not because of what happened during the meal.
Lo and behold, a party crasher came in. All the conversation around the table stopped. And all eyes turned over to where Jesus was reclining at the table, because the uninvited woman went straight to him. Simon was ready to recognize the type of woman, a “sinner,” which in plain English translates, a prostitute. The woman immediately became an embarrassment to Simon. But more troubling to Simon was his assumption about Jesus’ failure to recognize what kind of person the woman was. Simon was proving himself correct about the doubts he had about Jesus. “If he were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him,” Simon thought to himself. He assumed her actions were enough to defile the character, morality and person of Jesus. For as far as Simon was concerned, he never would have come close to such kind of people. He never would have eaten with “sinners.” He never would have allowed any such kind of people to touch him. And the woman never would have dared to enter the house of a Pharisee under any normal circumstance. But there was an exception this time. Jesus was there.
Yes, Jesus was there at the house of a self-righteous man, Simon. Jesus had graciously extended his fellowship to a man in great need of compassion, mercy, and salvation, even when this man was blind to his dire need of grace.
Luke reminds us in verse 34 that Jesus had been known as “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Therefore, it is likely that in those interactions between Jesus and sinners, a life was profoundly touched and transformed. One of them, a sinner woman, found out that Jesus was having lunch at Simon’s place. She was determined to express her repentance, love, and devotion to Jesus.
Here is something so beautiful. Under normal circumstances this prostitute never would have entered the house of Pharisee, in fact she would not be allowed to do so. But Jesus was there! And she wanted to meet Jesus no matter where he was. I believe Jesus is here in our fellowship today. I also want to believe that unlike Simon, we do recognize our need of God’s grace and that there is no prejudice in our heart against anyone. I want to believe that like the woman, we have come to this place in full repentance and to offer the Lord our love and devotion in gratitude.
While Simon was still talking to himself, “If he were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him,” Jesus not only revealed that he did know the woman but also that he knew Simon’s thoughts. Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” replied Simon.
Jesus told him a parable about the two debtors. One who owed a lot of money and the other who owed little amount. The two were forgiven their debt. Then Jesus posed the question: who do you think will love more? And Simon gave the right answer: the one who was forgiven the most.
My dear friends, we are all vulnerable of having a blind spot to our own faults. Every so often, we like Simon would like to believe that we are “better” off morally than others. But sometimes we accidentally reveal our prejudices against others. Sometimes a word or an attitude gives us out that we harbor prejudice against those we think are less than perfect according to our standard. That was the problem with Simon. He measured the woman according to his standard of purity, religiousness and social standing. But Jesus confronted his hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is always vulnerable to the truth. The mask of Simon’s pretense of a good host was ripped off by the devotion, love and gratitude of the prostitute.
Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to tell you. –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.”
Jesus proceeded to make the contrast between Simon’s hospitality and the woman’s actions. An honored guest would have been welcomed by household slave washing of his feet. But Simon did not even offer water to Jesus to wash his own feet, yet the woman was washing them with her tears. An honored guest would be welcome with a kiss, but Simon did not. The woman had not stopped kissing the feet of Jesus since she came in. Simon did not offer even olive oil, which was the most common ointment, yet the woman poured an expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.
Why did this woman express all this love and devotion beyond the rules of hospitality? The answer is simple: She realized her many sins had been forgiven and therefore, her expression of love corresponded in greatness too.
I am pretty sure we wish we can embody such great devotion and love as the “sinner” woman showed Jesus. I am pretty sure we wish we are given such immense grace Jesus extended to her also. I am sure we would also love to hear the word of forgiveness Jesus spoke to this woman: “Your sins are forgiven.” And let me tell you, Jesus is also pronouncing those very words to us: “Your sins are forgiven.”
We also wish, although with much hesitation, that Jesus would confront our moral blindness in the same way he confronted Simon’s. And Jesus wants to confront us too. Just as Jesus said Simon, he tells us: I have something I want to tell you.” Let us open our ears to listen to his voice. Let us surrender to the Lord and respond with humility. Let us respond: Tell me teacher! Amen.