We looked at the awkwardness of the Woman Washing Jesus’ Feet Part 1 and why she was compelled to do that in Part 2 . Now what about Simon the Pharisee whose house an immoral woman invaded? The story (Luke 7:36-50) about him, this woman, and Jesus is brimming with fullness and potential fullness. That ‘potential’ was there for Simon!
Simon had invited Fullness (Jesus) over for dinner. Then add to that, another ”full’ person had come into his house. Talk about opportunity to dig in and indulge! But Simon the Pharisee didn’t and couldn’t. Why?
Pharisees of that day were committed to following all the laws and traditions in order to show God (and others – get that?!) how much they ‘loved’ Him. Sadly the Pharisees had no idea how far removed they were from knowing God and His love. Come to think of it, maybe they weren’t so much about the ‘love’ thing but more about dutiful ‘obedience’. At least that can be measured – like checking off a list – so success seems more likely.
God is not anti Pharisee the person, He is anti religion – with all its structures, hierarchy, rules, requirements, obligations, agendas, good works, performance, and guilt-laden expectations. These kind of things, and our effort that they demand, cannot find or please God. (Been there, done that!) None of these can ever reveal God’s love, earn His love, or enable a relationship with Him. How quickly we forget or don’t even know He chooses us, we don’t choose Him (John 15:16). And He doesn’t choose us because we are good or try to be good. In fact, Jesus was known as the friend of sinners. God is the great initiator, the great pursuer. Gosh, God so loved the world! That sounds like everybody to me, even those who try really hard to do it right and think they are right. That is why a Pharisee type person has a harder time grasping His unconditional love.
Since Simon was all about duty, performance, and appearance, that made him very good at judging and judging rashly. This painting by Rueben aptly portrays Simon’s intense self-righteous and judgmental posture. Can you pick him out of the crowd?
Simon who thought he was in the light was actually the one ‘in the dark’ at this meal. The artist Reuben portrays him as such and the immoral woman who used to be in the dark is now the one in the light and near the Light. Simon was so sure she was the prostitute of the city (Lk 7:37,39), but when she came into his house that is not who she was! (See previous post.) His small religious heart, blinded by his dutiful works, kept him from seeing clearly and sensitively.
It is sure easy to be like a Pharisee and only look at the present outward actions or looks and not consider seeing deeper. How easy it is to forget this truth – “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” (1Sam 16:7).
- Let’s not be dutiful in our relationship with God – it’s bondage. Take inventory – are there some things we do or we think we should do that actually keep us from really knowing God and His magnanimous love? Get free from them!
- We might invite Jesus to a nice ‘meal’ – a situation or happening. But then it unfolds into something really messy. Perhaps God has turned the table and invited us to potential fullness. We then have the choice to indulge and grow or be critical and stay small.
- We can rest assured God looks on our heart. He’s not into appearances. So relax, rest, and enjoy this unconditional love and acceptance found only in the light of God’s Son, Jesus. And may we too become those who look on the heart, not outward appearances.