Monday, October 14, 2013

The Ladies of Luke - The "Sinful" Woman

Loving God with my today and tomorrow - not being defined by who I was or what I have done. This scripture is deep end of the pool stuff and what God is laying on my heart today isn't necessarily the rose petals and rainbows promises of His word. Today I want to unpack her story - but it intersects Simon's story too.

Luke 7: 36-43 One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner. Jesus replied, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher, speak,” he said. “A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work. The other owed enough money for fifty.  When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.” Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”

Jesus was invited to share a meal with some "Bible knowing" and "God loving" people. While Jesus was there, a woman with a well known reputation of sin came for a visit. She brought what she had to offer Him. This woman brought her best gift. This gift cost the woman; there was financial sacrifice and the sacrifice of her pride and personal interests to minister to the need of Jesus. It was not a glamorous act of service, in fact most would have avoided the task. The Bible records no spoken words between them, but it does record her tears. She was wounded, she was broken, she faced judgement and condemnation. And yet, she placed herself at the feet of the Savior. They called her a harlot. Today what would her label be: whore, prostitute, adulteress, post-abortive, or maybe even lesbian? To the "Bible lovers", she was too dirty to ever be made clean. Her disgrace was too significant, the stains of her sin were too permeating.  She was ruined - permanently.

How did Jesus address the hardened heart of His audience? With a story of course. Two men owed debts. The size of the debts were different but there was one thing in common - neither man had any hope of successful repayment. Knowing that they could never repay the debt, the lender forgave both debts equally and fully. Jesus then asked, who was more grateful? One of the men answered it was the man who owed more - and Jesus expressed that he was correct.

Luke 7:44-50 Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair.  You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in.  You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other table guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this person that even forgives sins?”  Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Here comes the slap for the someone. Jesus wasn't cruel - he was honest with a "Bible lover" that should have known better. Simon had invited Jesus in, but there wasn't much sincerity. Simon didn't extend comfort or kindness to his guest. Simon had basically said to Jesus "you can come in for a nice little meal and a fun little visit, but your presence in my home isn't going to make me uncomfortable, in fact your presence Jesus, wont be an inconvenience for me at all. Simon had little gratitude or  love. I am a Bible knower and a God lover. Do I ever do that? Do I want to love and serve my Lord in ways that are easy and convent? Do the gifts I offer cost my anything at all? 

Then there was this "sinful woman". The woman had been forgiven of much - and she was grateful for much. She didn't care what anyone thought; no cost was too much. This woman understood the depth of her sin and thus understood the depth of  Jesus' mercy, love and grace. She was both forgiven and given peace. A cleansing from the inside out. No longer bound by regret, remorse, judgement, embarrassment, shame - she was given peace. No longer defined by who she was - her peace came from who Jesus is. Her story is not exactly my story; but I understand judgement, sin and shame. I understand how Satan can try and use my past failures to haunt me. I can relate with the condemnation of people who can't or wont look past who I use to be. No mater what my label was - my identity is now secure. I am a daughter of the Living God, forgiven and "in peace". 

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