All of a sudden and from out of nowhere
All of the sudden and from seemingly out of nowhere, “she” showed up and walked in on the dinner party. Perhaps dirty, perhaps disheveled – we don’t know – but certainly disrespected, and surely unwanted in the midst of Simon’s elite little group of gathered, polished, and definitely familiar religious faces. Did the crowd part like the waters of the Red Sea before Moses’ staff as this “sinful” woman walked unwanted into their midst? Did the whispers which stirred in the shadows and electrified the onlookers cause her humble heart to break as she broke through into the unfamiliar territory of this upscale neighborhood and even on into Simon the Pharisees’ well-furnished home? After all, she was quite likely far more uncomfortable and out of place in this neighborhood and situation than any of those who saw her there. But she wasn’t there for them. She was there to see Jesus… and see Him she did… and see her did He!
As this account as recorded in Luke 7:36-50 unfolds, Jesus immediately sees something far more sinister, satanic, and unnerving in the room than this woman’s sinful reputation… and that is the hideous hypocrisy of the pride-hardened religious hearts all around Him who seemed completely incapable of loving, accepting, and reaching out to the hurting and lonely lost all around them; to those who so desperately desired and needed their love, acceptance, ministration and inclusion the most. And so, Jesus addresses Simon the Pharisee first…
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:40-50).
She loved much; they did not. Her sins were forgiven; theirs were not. She was saved by her faith; they were not. By their exclusionary religious elitism they were condemned. Blind, ugly, pride-driven and detestable, hypocritical and socially excluding religious elitism. This is what it does. It possesses, drives, and destroys those who choose to embrace, and then are inevitably, eventually, enslaved by it (2 Ptr. 2:18-22).
Other examples of this diabolical degeneracy in God’s people – of all people (?!?) – both permeate and pollute the sacred pages of the New Testament. We see it’s ugliness evidenced in the account of the Pharisee and the publican who went up to the temple to pray as recorded in Luke 18:9-14, where once again it was the pious and self-righteous religious leader that was so exclusionary who was summarily condemned, while the “sinner” in the story went away justified according to Jesus. We see similar in the story of Blind Bartimaeus when those following and celebrating Jesus sought to silence this poor, blind, probably grimy and dirty “bum’s” request for relief (See: Mark 10:46-52). Jesus, surrounded by supporters and encircled by disciples; headed for His ages-old prophesied date with the devil; on His way to Jerusalem to shed His blood for the sins of the entire world, thereby fulfilling the plan put in place before the beginning of the world to free you and I from the eternal flames our sin-wracked souls deserve in the face of a holy God’s wrath… stops, stands still, and serves the need of this one, dirt poor, desperately lost and hideously hurting sinner.
The bible is very clear. Religious people can often be – and have often been – the most compassion-less people on the planet if they’re not continually careful. I am reminded here that religious elitism and egoism is often the downfall of those who should know best not to be that way. It was not with the common people of His day to whom He often ministered when no one else would that Jesus had the biggest problem… It was by far, more often with the scribes, Pharisees, lawyers and Sadducees – the very leaders of God’s own people at the time – that Jesus struggled; and by whom, Jesus was eventually, summarily rejected, and carelessly, callously, and compassionate-lessly crucified.
Let us, who claim to be God’s people today – and especially those who lead (1 Timothy 3:6-7; 3 John 9-11) – be very clear, very careful, and ever aware and extremely cautious, that we not ever become like them, by succumbing to the hideous and abominable sins of pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. Sins which will absolutely consume our souls, and consummate in the loss thereof at the end if they are allowed entrance into our lives.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:3-9; all emphasis mine – DED).