Monday, January 11, 2010

Jesus and Simon

Luke 7:36-50 36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 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.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “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. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Good manners in that day required the host to have his servant wash the guest’s feet. He was expected to greet his visitor with a kiss on the cheek and anoint the guest’s head with oil.

Simon did none of these things, and it is apparent from our story that his actions (or lack thereof) were deliberate.

Imagine going to a party and extending your hand to someone, only to have them subtly refuse to extend their hand in return…They may even smile as they refuse, but you know – and they know – it’s intended as an insult. It’s meant to offend.

That’s pretty much what Simon intended in his behavior. BUT WHY? Why go to all the trouble inviting this new teacher to your home, putting on a lavish meal and perhaps even opening your home to the community so that they can come and observe him?

I believe Simon’s objective was to exasperate Jesus, to get under His skin, to throw Him off balance. He intended to goad Jesus into making a statement, or behaving in such a way that he could then use to embarrass Him and use against Jesus.

When we are off guard we often make verbal mistakes. These can then be used against you.

I believe that was Simon the Pharisee’s objective with Jesus. And it could have worked.

Hebrews tells us Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus knew Simon’s behavior was intended as an insult. He knew Simon’s heart. In my own experience, I’ve had people treat me rudely too - and I haven’t always responded well to it.

Even though I was a Christian, there was something infuriating about being mistreated in this way and my anger took over.

We’ve all encountered this at one time or another and we’ve said things we shouldn’t
or behaved in a less than gracious manner.

When reading of how Jesus behaved in this setting, it’s valuable for us to remember that Jesus not only came to give us life… He also came to show us how to live that life.

He was a bigger man and a better man than any of us would ever hope to be, and He showed us by His behavior how we who are His followers should treat people like this Pharisee.

In this situation, He simply ignored Simon’s behavior. He refused to give Simon the satisfaction of even commenting about this treatment.

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