Who Let Her In Here; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

We had been invited to a banquet, and by ‘we’, I mean Jesus. We get to tag along and get a free meal. It was hosted by a local Pharisee named Simon.

When we arrived at his home, I looked around for water to wash the dust off my feet. Jesus was only shown the way to the table where others were stretched out. There were none of the basic courtesies for guests or teachers. A rabbi staying or eating with you is considered a great honor.

While we were eating, a woman slipped in and stood behind Jesus with tears streaming down her face. Jesus reclined with one arm propping him up and the other one was free to reach for his food. His feet were stretched out behind him.

The crowd was silent, save for the weeping woman, whose tears began to fall and hit Jesus’ feet. She knelt, tenderly wiping them away with her hair. Then she kissed them, and pulled out an alabaster jar of perfume, broke it open, and poured the contents on his feet.

Simon was turning red, and while Jesus watched her I heard Simon say 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.”

Jesus looked at him. “Simon, I have something to tell you.

Simon, choking back a bit of his arrogance, replied, “Tell me, teacher.”

Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

“500 denarii,” I thought. That’s more than a year’s wages. You could go to jail or be forced to sell yourself into bond slavery to pay that back.

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Jesus looked towards the woman while still talking 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. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

Simon didn’t take that very well. He turned red, not expecting to be called out for his inhospitality or to be used as a negative example.

Jesus sat up, meeting the woman on her level. “Your sins are forgiven.

The table grew loud. “Who is this who even forgives sins?” “Only God can forgive sins.” What’s he doing?” “This is blasphemy!”

Jesus, ignoring them, reached up and wiped her tears away, saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

When we left, Jesus led us from town to town while he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God. We twelve were with him, some other men, and a few women, all who Jesus had helped cure of illnesses and demon spirits.

Mary, also known as Magdalene, had seven evil spirits cast out. Then there was Joanna, wife of Chuza the manager of King Herod’s household, and a woman named Susanna, among others. They weren’t just following Jesus, but also supporting him through their money.

It’s not unknown or that rare to have female benefactors. I had heard more than one critic complain about it. Even doing good and healing people will still get you criticized. These ladies were all in though.

Luke 7:36-8:3

The Dangers of Pride

There is an underlying theme running throughout the Bible. It’s backward and counter-cultural from what we expect. It’s the principle of the proud being humbled and the humble being exalted–raised up and honored. It’s clear in the background of the book of Esther and Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels.

Pride Goes Before Fall

In Esther, Haman loathed and hated Mordecai. So much so that he planned to have him killed. The day he went to the King to ask for it to be done, this happened:

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.

His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”

“Bring him in,” the king ordered.

When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”

“Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”

So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,
Esther 6:1-12

Haman was a very proud man as you can see. God warns in Proverbs 29:23 that a man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will attain honor. That’s what played out here.

Haman also had a plan to kill all the Jews in the kingdom (Esther 3:1-15). He ended up dead and Mordecai became the new second-in-command. Psalm 18:27 says God delivers an afflicted and humble people, bringing down those with haughty looks. Psalm 147:6 says God lifts up the humble and downtrodden; casting the wicked down to the ground.

“I’m not as bad as Haman.”

You may be thinking that. I hope you aren’t that bad. The week I wrote this I was studying Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Do you look down on anyone? I do sometimes, I have to guard against self-righteousness. It comes from forgetting the sin and darkness in our own hearts. When we remember our own sin, we see that in the eyes of God we are no better than they are.

Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:24 says we can be redeemed as a gift by God’s grace through Christ.

The key is that you have to recognize your own brokenness first.

Forgiveness Is Hard

Burnout. Forgiveness. Betrayal. Three things that hit me in one week. It was a crazy mix of emotions that ran into another timely sermon.

First, the backstory. Two months earlier, I and some friends planned a day zip-lining. Before I paid the non-refundable $70, I asked someone if he’d work my Saturday if we were still working. He would.

The week of, the guy covering me backed out, taking a last minute vacation. This was on top of another planned vacation the next week. So I had to work both my Saturday and his the following week.

Fine, I’ll improvise, adapt, and overcome. I will zip-line a little and walk back to the truck and leave for work. My friend who’d done it before said I couldn’t do that, it’s zip-lining back to the start.

I text my coworker, practically begging that they would work in my place. In the end, I had to eat the $70 and miss it. Inside I was a storm of emotion. It wasn’t that I lost the money, it’s that I lost time with friends.

I thought, ‘my generosity in helping him is reaching its limits. I won’t be so accommodating anymore.’ Then something Pastor Rod said popped into my head.

“Forgiveness is refusing to get even.”

The next day I thought, ‘I won’t get even, but I won’t go out of my way.’ Then a verse from Matthew popped into my head.

If someone makes you go one mile, go two.

Chesterton’s quote on the Christian ideal is true. It’s found difficult and left untried.

How Can I Handle This?

Pastor Rod had it covered in his series, OUCH!

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:12; 14-15

Forgiveness leaves a bad taste in our mouths sometimes. I had to take what he taught though and apply it, step by step. First, he explained what forgiveness isn’t.

It’s not pretending that it didn’t hurt, or minimizing the wrong. When you do that you cheapen the forgiveness. Nor is it excusing the wrong, taking the blame for it, or overlooking it. Forgiveness isn’t an emotion, a feeling, or a reunion.

They broke my trust, now it has to be earned back.

What is forgiveness then?

It’s giving up the right to get even. Ouch. Pastor Rod said to pray for them, so my heart is softened towards them and I’m better able to forgive.

I have to treat them as forgiven. Speak kindly, act gently towards them, and speak about them as forgiven. That’s hard. It’s not natural, it’s supernatural.

Forgiveness is a choice, and it’s not instant. It’s a process.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:21-22

It’s not optional for a Christ-follower, it’s a command.

I’m working through it. It’s hard, and it’s only through God’s power in me that I can, and I still slip. Is forgiveness hard for you?