There are few accounts more poignant and revealing then the one described in Luke 7 when a prostitute crashes the house party thrown by the upstanding Simon who invited Jesus over for a meal and conversation.
Simon was a Pharisee. He moved among the wealthy Jewish upper-class. Enjoying a meal at his house with Jesus, the new celebrity prophet, would be a highlight on his social calendar. Little did Simon know that on this day his dining table would be the backdrop for one of the great, all-time lessons of love. It’s a lesson we would do well to heed.
No one had anticipated this dinner scene. As they were reclining around the table, suddenly a harlot with a reputation in the town for sinful living pushes her way in and crashes the party. She too wanted to see Jesus, for she had heard of his teaching about love, his care for others, and his welcoming heavenly Father.
Nothing was going to deter her. Oblivious to the horror stares of Simon and his shell-shocked dinner guests, suddenly there she was on the floor, pouring her expensive flask of perfumed lotion on Jesus feet. The perfume mingles with her tears. In an unmatched act of utter humility and devotion, she wipes Jesus’ feet with the perfume, the tears, and her hair.
For a moment time seems to stand still. Simon must have been utterly mortified. He can’t bring himself to say it, but he is horrified by the obscene act that has just played out in his dining room, and he thinks 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.”
Here’s what Simon was really thinking. Righteous Jewish men don’t allow women to touch them, certainly not a degraded prostitute. To be defiled in this way is to bring disrespect to Yahweh. Some boundaries must never be crossed. Some sinners will forever be outside the kingdom of God. Jesus, you must be a charlatan.
But Jesus knows what he is thinking. (Doesn’t he know what we are all thinking?) And then he brings the lesson home, for Simon and for us. He tells a simple story of a man who lent money to two people, say $100,000 and $100. When they couldn’t repay, the man simply forgave both their debts. “Now Simon,” Jesus asks, “which one will love the man the most?” Simon replied that it would be the man who owed most.
And then Jesus positions Simon and the streetwalker side by side to compare their hearts.
“Look at this woman,” he said. “When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You refused me the customary kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the usual courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has covered my feet with perfume.
Therefore, her sins – and they are many – are forgiven, for she loved me much; but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.” (Luke 7:44-47, Living Bible)
What God cares about is love. “Loved me much,” Jesus said. Entry into his kingdom where the rule of God, the rule of love, wins the day, is not conditioned upon the customary proprieties which coloured Simon’s life.
Simply put, those who are forgiven and welcomed into God’s kingdom are people of faith and of love.
Notice the connection in this story between faith and love. The woman recognized Jesus for who he was and who dwelled in him. She sensed that Jesus was forgiving and accepting her, ever before he said, “Your sins are forgiven.”
She knew because she had encountered a goodness in Jesus that could only be explained as “God in him,” and her heart was overwhelmed with gratitude, with love, with a profound emotional and personal expression of devotion and worship to him.
Love reveals the condition of our heart. And her heart was so overwhelmed with love, that as Dallas Willard describes it, “she went nuts about Jesus.”
When people encounter Jesus, whether in a sermon, a book, or a faith testimony, two things happen. For whatever reasons, they are repelled by him, reject him, and turn away.
Or as was the case with the harlot, they are drawn to him, enticed by his divine love, and eventually they come to unashamedly adore him and serve him.
And so today, can we as Corpath members follow the example of the harlot and go a little nutty for Jesus?
Can we allow his majestic love and forgiveness to so wash over us that like the courageous party-crasher, we too will devote our best for him?
May it be ever so.
Blessings for a good week of expressing your unadulterated love for Jesus.