Why Wasn’t Simon the Pharisee Hospitable?

Luke 7:36-50
Simon asked Jesus over for dinner. They began to eat. Jesus makes no mention of Simon’s lack of normal hospitable etiquette towards Him. Not until the immoral woman shows up to express her profound appreciation of Jesus, did Jesus say something to Simon. I don’t think Jesus was offended at the lack of customary guest care. He was more concerned about Simon’s small heart and trying to help him see the size of his heart. Simon was missing out on fullness.

What did Jesus point out to Simon that he did not offer in the way of hospitality?

  • No water to wash the guest’s feet – either a servant would do that for the guest or the guest would wash their own.  To elaborate: washing feet is a humbling act – perhaps Simon didn’t want to give any indicators of humbling himself before Jesus.
  • No oil for the guest’s dry skin on one’s head.  To elaborate: oil can be symbolic of an anointing from God on someone’s life to empower them in God’s kingdom work. Maybe Simon didn’t want to acknowledge Jesus’ anointing by adding any more oil! In addition there might be the thought – Hey, where’s my anointing? Someone needs to give me oil!
  • No kiss for the guest – a kiss represented an affectionate or respectful form of greeting.  To elaborate: Simon might have thought Jesus was already getting enough honor from the crowds. The problem – he was not even sure Jesus deserved it. Mind you, He keeps breaking the law on the Sabbath! In addition Simon might have mulled – where is the honor I should be getting, doesn’t anyone notice all my hard work for God?

What motivated this lack of common courtesies?

  • Had Simon judged Jesus? He certainly did when he thought 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?” (Lk 7:39)
  • Was he jealous of Him? Surely Simon was aware of, perhaps even witnessed, the many healings and deliverances from unclean spirits that Jesus was doing. If so, he would have seen the masses running after Jesus. What a threat to someone who wants to be important.
  • How about competition? Of course in this situation it would be one-sided – obviously Jesus is not in competition with anyone. But Simon was used to competition among his peers – who could keep the rules the best.

Some might consider Simon’s behavior Passive-aggressive. I’d like to call it Simon-withholding behavior. Ever had Simon-withholding in your personal life? Ever seen it in today’s church? In the church we might recognize it as competition and jealousy – among denominations, within a denomination, within local churches, or among ministry leaders.

This jealousy and competition can manifest itself in the church by:

  • Boasting about and comparing attendance or offerings
  • Comparing who has the best preaching/teaching anointing – then striving to be better than…
  • Determining who moves best in certain gifts of the Spirit – thus exalting some, limiting most
  •  Vying for more ‘air time’ or ‘platform time’

Isn’t it something that because of jealousy, comparisons, and competition we can knowingly or unknowingly withhold affection or support, use flattery with a hidden agenda to move ‘upward’, fall into fault finding and criticizing, and succumb to complaining and murmuring? The result – no fullness.

Dig In

  • It’s good to remember that Jesus is always extending grace to all – He wants sinners and Pharisees (who are also sinners, they just don’t know it) to receive His fullness.
  • When we want to be important or really spiritual (like Simon) then we open ourselves up to jealousy, comparison, and competition. Sure things that will deny us fullness. By the way, we were made for importance but not by the world’s standards. The kind of importance He has for us is ‘out of this world’ and truly fulfilling!
  • Lord, free us from Hospitality That Gives FullnessSimon withholding. Free us from our selves that we may reach out and be givers. Freely we have received, freely we are free to give. That is fullness!
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