You know that moment you realize you don’t want to be associated with that person. You are happy to reach down and help them, but you don’t want to be lumped in with them. In public you try to show somehow that you are not on their level.
Maybe you haven’t. With sorrow, I admit I have found myself hoping the person I want respect from sees me differently than the person beside me.
Reading the account of the sinful woman who anoints Jesus, my heart is rent with conviction and wonder at the heart of God.
If there’s a time Jesus should have wanted to distance Himself from some one, it was now. Already, tension hung thick between Jesus and the religious leaders, but tonight Jesus was dining at the home of Simon the Pharisee. It would have been a great opportunity to secure an in with the who’s who of the day and create some report with His host.
Except that SHE comes in, and begins to make a scene over Jesus’ feet. Everyone in the community knows her – she is infamous for her misdeeds and scorned for her past.
As a pharisee or a teacher, to be seen or associated with such a person was to be unclean, casting a dubious shadow on your character, and Simon immediately discredits Jesus as a prophet.
I love Jesus’ response:
Simon, look at this woman. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash my feet, but she has washed them with tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins – and they are many – are forgiven, so she shows much love. But a person who is forgiven little loves little. (Luke 8:47)
Two things impact me deeply. One is how Jesus sees each person according to the spirit, not the flesh. We too are called to evaluate others this way. (2 Cor:16)
Rather than rebuffing the woman, Jesus truly sees her and elevates her to His level. He places the greater honour on someone no one valued.
The second is this: the chapter before tell us the religious leaders refused to partake of John’s baptism of repentance. Jesus sees that Simon comes with a critical and judgemental spirit, but the woman comes in repentance. He tells Simon rather than judging her, he needs to be like her.
Do I strive to be perceived as a leader with everything together and no need for repentance, or do I walk in humility with a contrite spirit before Jesus and men? Am I the pharisee, reclining in judgement, or am I the woman, weeping at Jesus’ feet. Only one of them went from that table full, and it was not Simon.
How do you see those the world has discredited and shoved aside? How do you come to the table, as Simon, or the woman?