Encounter with Jesus - Guess who's coming to dinner?
Encounter with Jesus: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Luke 7:36-50)
We relate to and react to the Lord Jesus on the basis of our personal need and gratitude for Him. Those who feel no need have little gratitude. Those who feel great need demonstrate greater gratitude. You can evaluate your experience with Jesus by the spontaneous love you demonstrate toward Him. Everyone forgiven by the Lord Jesus demonstrates his/her forgiveness in open gratitude.
We Contact Jesus with Personal Sufficiency or Personal Need
Some contact Jesus who feel no personal need. Such only want to have a curious look at Him. Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his dinner out of curiosity at best or hostility at worst. Yet the Lord Jesus takes any opening we give Him. Out of supreme personal security He will be entertained by anyone who wants to consider Him. He has nothing to prove.
Some approach Jesus with a deep sense of personal need. Sinful failures are always welcome. The anonymous woman surprised everyone by approaching Jesus. It was not unusual for outsiders to watch Eastern banquets. It was unusual for a fallen woman to approach a famous rabbi. This woman was the notorious sinner in that city. Yet she knew where to find the Lord Jesus. Do the sinful failures in our city think they could find Jesus at our church?
The Lord Jesus wants our uninhibited gratitude. He always accepts the loving thanks of those He saves. This woman entered the dinner and stood behind Jesus, hesitating to act. She suddenly burst into tears. She expressed her gratitude to Jesus in three ways. She reacted emotionally. Her tears fell like rain on Jesus' feet. She reacted demonstratively. She untied her hair (considered shameful in public) and wiped His feet. She also repeatedly and fervently kissed His feet. She reacted substantially. She poured out on Him the most valuable thing she possessed. She had earned the perfume by and used it in her immoral life. She now gives it to Jesus.
The Jesus of the Gospels is approachable. Do sinners want to approach us? We represent Him. All that any of us can do is express our overwhelming gratitude for what He has done for us.
We May Misunderstand the Acceptance That Jesus Gives
He who sees like a Pharisee does not see Jesus at all.
Spiritual self-sufficiency cannot comprehend Jesus. "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" (v. 39). Simon the Pharisee thought the woman would infect Jesus with sin rather than Jesus cover the woman with holiness. "If Jesus did not know that woman, He lacked discernment. If He did know her, He lacked holiness." Simon was wrong. Jesus knew the woman, her faith, and her new life. He also knew Simon.
Only through Jesus can we understand unconditional acceptance. The little "Parable of the Two Debtors" presents God as the creditor, I as the debtor, sin as the debt. We do not have it in our power to pay God what we owe Him. He forgives us the entire debt freely as a gift. The more I feel He has forgiven me, the more I will love God. If I feel no need of forgiveness, I will feel no love. If I feel overwhelmed by God's forgiveness, I will love Him the more.
Simon felt no need and insulted Jesus. The woman knew His abounding grace and lavished love on Jesus.
We May Judge Ourselves by Our Response to Jesus
Do we respond to Jesus as the Friend to whom we owe everything? We can contrast two abiding attitudes toward the Lord Jesus by the reactions of Simon and the woman.
Are we considerate toward the Lord Jesus? Simon did not even give Jesus the customary washing of the feet that was done for every friend in the Holy Land. The woman washed Jesus' feet with her own tears. Do we even consider the Lord Jesus in our actions and reactions toward Him?
Do we express our friendship to Jesus? Simon did not give Jesus the customary sign of friendship in that culture, a kiss on the face. The woman repeatedly kissed Jesus' feet. In so doing, she showed true friendship. She was a better host than the host himself.
Do we give our best to the Lord Jesus? Simon did not anoint His head with inexpensive olive oil, a tradition for a distinguished guest. The woman poured out the most expensive perfume from a container that could not be replaced.
In short, does our love demonstrate the fact we have indeed been forgiven. Consideration, friendship, and our best given to Jesus demonstrate our love. Jesus confirms what had already happened when He exclaims, "Your sins are forgiven. . . . go in peace" (vv. 48-50).
The only peace to be found is at Jesus' feet. Would you join this woman there? An attitude of proud self-sufficiency stands aloof and never hears His word of peace. An attitude of humble need finds His love and His best gift, peace with God.