I know a lady who told me a funny story. As best I remember her story it goes like this: One day, she was walking down the street when she passed a guy walking in the opposite direction. He had a camera around his neck and stopped her, telling her that he was taking pictures of people’s feet for a photo assignment, he asked if she would mind taking off her shoes.
Flattered to be the subject of his assignment, the woman took off her shoes for the photo. As the guy bent down with his camera, he got closer and closer to her feet and quickly licked her feet. As he tried to explain how it was about “lighting” she quickly scooped up her shoes and took off.
Had it been me the guy would have had a few teeth knocked out, after I punched his lights out! Most of us have this thing about feet—for just being feet they are an intensely personal part of our bodies. They also get dirty. The idea of choosing to dote on feet seems…well…less than normal. And that brings us to:
The word of the day: Gross
So Jesus had an interesting thing happen to him, too.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
We’re used to seeing Jesus interact with the outcast people but here he shows he is just as comfortable in the presence of the religious elite. He accepts the invitation to eat with Simon, a Pharisee. (While not the main point of Luke’s story, we would do well to realize that Jesus’ call is for everyone.)
But Simon probably doesn’t want to become a follower of Jesus. I think he’s looking for a chance to challenge Jesus. Thus we don’t see a private dinner between Simon and Jesus—we see a public event. The house was likely open to others to come and observe the interaction between the Pharisee and the rabbi. This is exactly what the unnamed woman does.
Dealing with people’s feet was a job reserved for the lowliest of servants. Feet were dirty and smelly. Giving someone a footbath was not something people chose to do. And here this woman willingly puts herself at the lowliest place before Jesus. This doesn’t sit right with the religious guy. Simon is upset that this kind of woman would be at Jesus’ feet. Luke never tells us what sin the woman is involved in. We can guess, but that’s it—a guess.
Whatever her offense is, Simon thinks it’s enough to make righteous people keep her at arm’s length. Funny enough, many religious people still feel this way about sinners today. When we know what offense people have committed against God we keep them at a distance. It’s as though we think their sin will taint us before God. Heaven forbid we keep company with people who need Jesus, too. We forget what we were like before God began working in our lives.
As a pastor, I’ve heard Christians talk about “sinners” in this way before.
“Pastor, he’s a drinker.”
“Pastor, she’s a smoker.”
“Pastor, she’s living with a man who isn’t her husband.”
It really goes on without end. To Simon, the fact that Jesus would allow such a person to touch his feet is proof that Jesus is NOT a real prophet. But then Jesus does something cool.
He demonstrates his prophetic prowess by answering the question that Simon is THINKING.
And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Jesus’ story to Simon is something that most of us can understand. He puts forgiveness in a practical setting—monetary debt. I think most of us know what it’s like to owe money on something. When someone forgives or pays off the debt for us it’s a pretty cool thing. But someone paying off a $5 debt isn’t quite as momentous as someone paying off a $5,000 debt.
So it should come as no surprise to us when people who have come a long way to Jesus become exuberantly expressive in their love. There are two ways to take this. 1: when we come to Jesus it is perfectly acceptable to be extravagant in expressing love and devotion. There is no one right way. Do what your heart moves you to do in response to Jesus. 2: for those of us who are already with Jesus we must not exclude others from joining – no matter what we think of their background. We love grace and forgiveness until we have to extend it to people we disapprove of. But we all come from somewhere, and Jesus loves us all.
And being at his feet is where we all should be.
_ _ _
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called Come As You Are. It’s one of my favorites and has an incredible message about coming to God regardless of our past. We’re not good enough for God. In fact, none of us could ever be good enough for God. Fortunately, it’s not about being good enough.
Lay down your burdens, lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face
O wanderer come home, you’re not too far
So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart
Come as you are
God accepts us as we are.
Our second song this morning talks about worshipping God with everything we are. The song is called From the Inside Out and says:
My heart and my soul, I give you control
Consume me from the inside out, Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love you from the inside out
Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
From the inside out Lord my soul cries out
It means we don’t just give God lip-service, saying we love him but inwardly loving something else more (ourselves, our wants, our jobs, our kids, etc.).
Let’s stop giving God part of ourselves and holding back part for something else. Let’s love him from the inside out.
– What part of my past do I need to let go of in coming to Jesus “as I am?”
– Am I willing to embarrass myself in front of others to demonstrate my love for God or am I bound by rules of appropriateness?
– What kind of people and background do I find it distasteful to interact with?
MAKING IT REAL:
– This week, do something out of the ordinary and extravagant to demonstrate your adoration of Jesus.
– Identify someone who is normally considered a religious “outsider” and welcome him/her to worship with you.
– At the end of the week share your God moments with us here on the site or on our page at Facebook.
– If you’ve never come to the place in your life where you have decided to be a follower of Jesus and want to know more, please shoot us a message and we’ll be glad to talk to you about what it means to be a follower!
If you’ve been blessed by Pastor Linzey’s ministry, please consider donating to The Church Plant by clicking here.