Tuesday, 25 June 2013

What on is earth is SHE doing here? A talk by Peter Wright

Inspired by Luke Chapter 7.v.36 -8.3

Have you ever had someone turn-up at a meal or a party that you are afraid might embarrass you or cause trouble?  What if that person is known in the wider community as someone on the fringes of society?  Peter Wright, a Licensed Lay Minister explores such an event that occurred when Jesus was asked to supper …….

Luke describes a particularly tense situation at a meal shared between Jesus and Simon the Pharisee. As a Pharisee, Simon was well versed in the Old Testament law and all the succeeding rules and regulation that had been devised to meet every eventuality. Part of his role was as a teacher at the Synagogue where he would impart this wisdom to the men only congregation. Pharisees were respected by some as upholders of the Law but criticised by others for hypocrisy when their lifestyle did not measure up to their teaching. One person who was forthright in his criticism was Jesus of Nazareth. So, it is interesting to note that it was Simon who invited Jesus for a meal. Maybe he wanted to sort Jesus out and put him straight or maybe he just wanted to meet this man who was drawing the crowds. We don’t know, and maybe that’s just as well because the key point of the event is what happened at that meal.

An uninvited guest turns up – a prostitute, determined to see Jesus.  As if that wasn’t bad enough – a woman at table with Simon – she proceeds to cry over Jesus feet and then do what no self respecting Jewish woman would ever do – she unties her hair and uses that to wipe Jesus feet before breaking open a jar of perfume and pouring it on his feet.

Note Simon’s non verbal response – to see the event as evidence that Jesus could not possibly be a prophet as he would have known her history and condemned her. So Jesus, knowing what Simon is thinking says “Simon, do you see this woman?”  Well, of course he does because she’s standing right there in his house with her hair undone!  Simon just cannot see past the woman’s reputation and her brazen acts at his own table. He just cannot see a forgiven woman overcome with thanks to Jesus and the prospect of a new start.

With all this going on, we should not be surprised to find that a crowd has gathered. How do they react?  Simon would have been proud of them because they turn the situation into a debate about God.  “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Again, like Simon, they cannot see the woman as forgiven by Jesus and ready to make a new start.

I wonder what our reaction would have been. Would we react as Simon the Pharisee, judging solely on past reputation? Or would we react as Jesus did, seeing the person, valuing the person, offering love, support and forgiveness?

 

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