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Jun 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 1, 2014 – Luke 7:36-50

Through His Eyes

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner, and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”  Luke 7:36-39

As we begin this story it will be helpful if we first look at a snapshot of Jesus

So let’s step back to the previous episode
– in prison, John the Baptist was having second thoughts about his endorsement of Jesus
• Jesus reassured John’s disciples everything was going along as it should
• he then talked to crowd about John and some of the differences between them
– Jesus explained that their target audience proved to be frustrating
• John was a stern ascetic, but they didn’t like that — “He has a demon” (v. 33)
• Jesus was sociable and engaging, but they didn’t like that either (v. 34)
“Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”
○ now this is how Jesus characterized himself in their eyes
– these descriptions weren’t accurate representations of either John or Jesus
• but if a sinner ever needed a friend, Jesus was there

Luke introduces two new characters

He likes working with contrasts and especially when it entailed a male and a female
– at first, the Pharisee and sinner appear as stereotypes
• stock characters – predictable (representative of a mind-set or class of people)
– but both are given the opportunity to change
• and thereby becoming more interesting characters — more like real people
○ Jesus will give them the chance to see themselves as something else
○ to become something else

We have already followed Jesus into Matthew’s home
– as a tax collector, he was on the opposite end of the social ladder
• Pharisees stood outside Matthew’s home criticizing Jesus
– this time, it’s a Pharisee who gave the invitation
• if you were to ask Jesus, “Do You favor Pharisees or sinners?”
○ his answer would be, “Yes”
• he was not distracted by labels – he saw human persons–in fact, their true selves
○ the point of this story will have to do with seeing others through his eyes

Suddenly an uninvited guest was standing behind Jesus
– “a woman in the city” – we can assume that most people knew her – and her reputation
• it is obvious that she came with a purpose in mind
○ but when she saw Jesus, hesitated and then fell apart
• why? nervous tension? fear? risk of public shame?
○ she was past caring what others thought of her
○ I will never be free to be myself if I live in fear of the opinion of others
– perhaps she noticed her tears falling on Jesus’ feet
• she had not meant for that to happen
○ with nothing to dry them, she undid her hair and letting it fall, began to dry his feet
○ and now that she was already touching him, she began kissing his feet
• it’s possible that the perfume had been meant for his head, but she poured it on his feet instead
○ whatever else she adds to story, she brings a sweet fragrance
– and the whole time, Jesus just sits there – he didn’t budge or speak a word
• and the woman did not say a word – perhaps the whole room went silent
• except at head of table, the Pharisee who hosted the luncheon was talking to himself

This is Luke’s way of shifting the point of view so we’re looking at scene through the Pharisee’s eyes
– he had already made his judgment regarding the woman
• now he was forming his judgment regarding Jesus
○ he might very well have said to them both, “Nothing personal; it’s my religious nature to judge”
○ and he kept it impersonal: “If this man . . . this woman
• he made an assumption about Jesus – “If He were a prophet, He would know”
○ and he assumed Jesus would react in a particular way
○ for example, the Lord would have been greatly offended and perhaps show hostility to her

The Pharisees did not have any official religious authority
– but they acted as self-appointed gatekeepers
– they did have social influence, however, and could greatly damage a person through shame

David Flusser, who was for some time a professor of history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem observed, “The term ‘Pharisee’ in Hebrew usually bore a negative connotation. In those days, if one said, ‘Pharisee,’ one immediately thought of a religious hypocrite. . . . Jesus identified the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in the discrepancy between their doctrine and their deeds, ‘for they preach, but do not practice’ (Matt. 23:3). It is worth noting that this same anti-Pharisaic polemic also occurs in rabbinic literature . . . .”

• Flusser also pointed out that the theology of the Pharisees was very close to that of Jesus
○ yet “he did not identify himself with them”
• they were the fundamentalists of their day
○ they were preoccupied with the beliefs and behavior of others
○ it was typical of them to reduce people to labels

I’m sure that opinions here are divided over the next issue I’m going to raise
– just know that I’m not taking sides regarding a particular interpretation of scripture
• what I’m concerned about is the problem of gatekeepers
• that is to say, people who want to censor what other Christians may or may not read
– Convergent Books publishes the works of Christian authors
• they recently published a work that reexamines the biblical teaching on homosexuality
○ in response, the National Religious Broadcasters issued ultimatum: either they separate their staff and offices from two of the other Christian publishers under the same leadership and roof (WaterBrook Press and Multnomah) or the issue would be turned over to the NRB’s ethics board to determine if they would be removed from NRB
• this not simply a matter of entering a discussion already knowing you won’t change your mind regardless of what you hear or learn, but it is a refusal to even allow the discussion to take place or to allow people to reconsider how the Scriptures have been interpreted
– it is not typical for gatekeepers to give God much room to work

Vv. 40-47, Jesus tells a story

In light of how the Pharisee just now depersonalized Jesus
– it is worth noting Jesus addressed him by name, “Simon”
– Jesus is the one who personalizes this story
• these people were not merely a “Pharisee” and a “sinner”

Jesus did not immediately attack Simon and begin judging him
– he told a story and let Simon make his own judgment
• so when Jesus asked which person in the story would love their creditor more
○ Simon’s response was, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more”
○ “I suppose this is what You’re getting at, Jesus. I suppose this is what you want me to say”
• Jesus could have asked (but did not), “Where do you see yourself in this scenario?”
– Simon’s primary concern was the sort of person the woman was who touched Jesus
• for Jesus, the primary concern in that moment had to do with love and forgiveness
○ with removing a debt

It is ironic that Jesus would say, “You have judged correctly”
– set in context of story, the message was clear enough
• but Simon had not judged correctly regarding Jesus and the woman
– “Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon”
• we need to pay attention to Jesus’ body language here
• “Do you see this woman?”
○  “Really see her? Or does she not exist as a human person to you? ‘This woman’ did for Me everything you failed to do”

Vv. 48-50, It is the woman who won the prize

She had been stuck in a life that was not her
– a reputation that wasn’t her true self
• but she lacked power or means to get free
• her social world held her in an invisible prison
○ she lived in a community that wouldn’t allow her to change
– I once met with a young who had been accused of sexual assault
• the local papers reported that the police brought him in for questioning
• but even though he was exonerated, he was never cleared in eyes of his community
○ he had been stigmatized, so that people constantly mistreated him

We’re all affected by social constraints to one degree or another
– family, neighbors, coworkers
• it can be our social and personal disability
– these disabilities arise from stories we tell ourselves
• or stories others tell about us
– that is what the woman who washed Jesus’ feet was saved from
• her personal and social disabilities were healed
• those things were entailed in Jesus’ reassurance, “Your faith has saved you”

Conc: Did you hear Jesus clearly? He said, “A moneylender had two debtors”

This is the view through Jesus’ eyes — both the Pharisee and the woman were debtors
– true, her sins were many, but they were forgiven
• so even if Simon’s sins were few, if he was not forgiven then she was in the better place
– why did Jesus tell this story? or accept Simon’s invitation for that matter?
• he wanted to save Simon, who was also trapped

Where this brings us today, is that this week we would look at others through Jesus’ eyes
– that we would not “judge according to appearance,” but look deep
• to look through Jesus’ eyes is to look with concern, compassion, and kindness
• we may ask Jesus to help us see other people through his eyes

But do this also: Ask Jesus to let you see yourself through his eyes too

Now “go in peace”

One Comment

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  1. Paul Udell / Jun 10 2014


    Seeing others and ourselves from the eyes of Jesus is easier said than done. Our thinking needs to be transformed. This is a slow, life-long process of becoming.We simply don’t recognize the truth when we see it. (We see it from our limited and misguided perspectives.)

    To recognize is to re-recognize ( to re-think and see from a new perspective). By doing this we become empowered by the quality of our perspectives. This is what helps create transformation.

    University of Virginia moral psychologist John Haidt said, “Powerful moments of elevation sometimes seem to push a mental ‘reset button, ‘ wiping out feelings of cynicism and replacing them with feelings of hope, love and optimism and a sense of moral inspiration.” I have seen this happen. I have seen lives transformed when the button is reset and people see from the eyes of Jesus.
    I have often wondered how and when exactly did Jesus awaken and evolve to an understanding of who He was an who He was to become. Was His realization similar to the way we have to come to our full realization of Him?

    Thanks for your ministry


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