Thursday, January 20, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39
As I read about this Pharisee’s honest thoughts, I cannot begrudge him for it. The blinding reality is that I might react the same way. I’d like to think I wouldn’t, but my own preconceptions flare up when I don’t want them to, and I catch a glimpse of my own judgmental being.
I do not know what sorts of sins this woman had committed, but in verse 37 the author says about her that she was ‘a woman who had lived a sinful life,’ indicating that this was a well known fact about her. Maybe this Pharisee was looking down on her due to his own self-righteousness, but it doesn’t negate the fact that she had done enough to get her noticed as a sinful woman. Yet there was also something in her that recognized her own depravity and was repentant for it. No one told her to ask Jesus to forgive her, but her own realization of her unholiness compelled her to weep at His feet. To offer the best she had in remorseful apology. In this “clean-freak” society, over-ridden with religiously zealous and fanatical people, even being touched by someone who hadn’t undergone the correct religious ‘cleanings’ was abhorred. Being so focused on the law the Pharisee was obsessed with the fact that she was touching Jesus. It was not only against the cultural norm, but it was also unlawful. Thankfully, however, God was not intimated by her uncleanliness. Just the same as today He is not appalled by our dirty, messy lives. He doesn’t wear bright white clothing and run away in disgust as we approach Him with muddy, gooey hands. He embraces us and loves on us. Forgives us and welcomes us.
I imagine it as something like this scenario. A mother dressed in a her business suit, complete with a white blouse, ready to hop in the car and go to a business meeting. Her son is called in to grab his things so he can be dropped at school and to her great surprise he has spent the morning making mud pies, getting much of the “filling” on his clothing, face and hands. In excited triumph he presents to his mother his masterpiece. Two outcomes may come.
The first: a screech of horror and a reprimand at his irresponsible behavior and actions. Didn’t he know better? Didn't he understand that they would be late because of his antics, and even more than that, he would stain the carpet with his muddy footprints? She barely touches her son, keeping his dirty figure at arms length as she orders him to the bathroom to wash up. His excited countenance slowly drops, as he walks away dejected and painfully embarrassed. He had just been playing, making something that he thought was pleasant and good. He had done the best he could, but it wasn’t good enough for his mother’s expectations.
The other choice she has: a delightful laugh and embrace of this beautiful gift her beloved has presented to her. Her clean white shirt, prepared appearance and put together day would just have to wait. Her child has offered her the best he had to give, and loving and accepting that best was much more important than keeping face with those ‘higher-ups’ she was meeting with today. This moment was about loving on her boy, no matter how messy, muddy or grimy he was. She saw through that dirt covered face to a piece of her very heart and she adored this little child in front of her. Instead of anger for the mess he’d made, she lovingly inspected the art work, inquiring about the ingredients and process to create such an incredible offering of love. His eyes brighten, recognizing her acceptance, and he begins the joyful task of telling his mother all about the adventure he’d been on. He excitedly cleans up and gets ready for the day, not wondering at whether he is liked, but knowing in the deepest parts of himself that he is deeply and graciously loved.
Often I’m afraid I treat people like the first scenario, wondering why they have made such a mess of things. Didn’t they know better? Why would the continue to make such poor decisions, getting more and more grime splattered all over their lives? I judge and ridicule, demanding they march right to the bathroom and fix the mess. And they had better not stain the carpet on the way. And yet, in stark contrast, Jesus extends love and grace. He treats us as the second scenario describes, seeing the mess we’ve made, our childish attempts at making or doing something lovely, and instead of rejection because of our dirty hands, he scoops us up in a joyful embrace. He accepts us as He patiently teaches us the things we have yet to learn. He is patient and kind, and sees through our grimy, mud-spattered faces to the sons and daughters He immensely loves. It is a love that did not make sense to the Pharisees and religious zealous of old, and continues to challenge us today. And I am thankful for such a love as this...
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
When Simon Peter saw this [huge catch of fish] he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:8