Jesus is so much more ‘in your face’ then we often give him credit for when singing about ‘the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay’. That’s about as insulting as having people constantly refer to you as the cute little baby in diapers ‘you once were’ many years ago. But like us, Jesus grew into adulthood and the full purpose for his being on earth…. he was very conscious of that….
Sometimes I suspect we live as if this is ‘it’ – which is more short sighted than not worrying about insurance for accident, crash or theft. Funny isn’t it, how we save for retirement but question why it is necessary to ‘be saved’ for eternity… but that’s a whole other topic.
I’m thinking about the evening when Jesus had supper with Simon, a very respected and obviously influential man about town. Simon’s dinner parties were well known and to be invited was indeed an honor. He frequently opened his doors to visiting celebrities and despite Jesus’ protestations, that is what he was fast becoming – what with all the healings and miracles. Simon lived for the applause and accolades of his peers. If the truth be known these dinner parties were more about his need to ‘look important’ as a pharisee of means and influence then they were about appreciating the ‘guest of honor’.
So when Jesus dined at Simon’s table he picked up on this but politely said nothing – until that woman of questionable background and notorious reputation became emotional. She was standing behind Jesus – at his feet (they reclined while eating) when suddenly she broke down and wept, anointing his feet with expensive perfume and drying them with her hair. She couldn’t stop saying ‘thank you’ and Jesus didn’t interrupt her either. He knew what was transpiring in her heart and this outpouring of emotion was entirely appropriate – because she had been lost and was now found, she had been condemned and was now forgiven and accepted into the heart of the Father. Jesus knew what she knew – but Simon didn’t have a clue. All he could think about was how wicked she was and the awkward scene she was creating in his carefully planned evening.
Jesus also read Simon’s mind and expression of horror. Which is why he addressed it publicly and said that what the woman had done was far more authentic and hospitable than Simon’s superficial fawning and egocentric hospitality. The woman was set free that evening at Simon’s dinner party – Simon unfortunately remained imprisoned – he couldn’t see beyond himself. Maybe later he reflected on the events and had a change of heart – we don’t know. But that day a woman who had devalued her worth and lost her identity was loved by a man who did not use her or abuse her. Jesus touched the innermost depth of her heart that screamed, “Is there any hope for me, is there anyone out there who cares?” Jesus responded before she articulated thoughts she could not access or shape with her lips… and his response wasn’t a syrrupy spiritual ‘God loves you, smile, be happy’ sort of sentimental drivel. It was powerful and strong, stood up in the face of those who would shame her and with massive force behind his deceptive gentleness Jesus restored to her life, dignity, and respect.
I celebrate the fact that Jesus is not at all religious and he genuinely enjoys hanging out with people who are real and authentic. He is not politically correct and he loves to lift people up who have gotten down and lost for all kinds of reasons. He seems quite prepared to get in the face of important people (in their own estimation) and challenge them…. it’s so refreshing don’t you think?
He ended his conversation with Simon by saying that those who have been forgiven much love passionately. They weep and sing, they dance and shout, they laugh and cry – they express their relief and joy and delight. That does not mean we all have to be the same…. but for God’s sake if we have been recued from death surely something can be squeezed out of us that demonstrates gratitude and excitement….?
Simon liked to talk about theology, and what Jesus was up to, and how people were responding. He gave Jesus his dinner table, his conversation and his mind. But he withheld his heart. The woman had no table or home but she gave Jesus all she had… a heart filled with gratitude and the perfume – tools of her trade – to be redeemed. Jesus was moved, thrilled, delighted, and commended her in front of all who condemned her.
How’s your passion and what does Jesus have of you as you read this blog? I want him to have all of me…. I’m still learning how to walk into that truth…. but I know how he has loved me when others were far away… and he never abandoned me…… I love him for that….. with unspeakable gratitude……
Here’s to less politically correct dinner parties and more real meals with the Bread of Life …. 🙂