Luke 7:36-39

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.

And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:36-39

Evidently not all Pharisees were as close-minded toward Jesus as others. At least one of them was willing to give Jesus a chance. He invited Jesus over for dinner.

Who do you think stands to lose the most regarding the guest list at this particular dinner party? The Pharisee, risking becoming the target of gossip amongst his neighbors? Or Jesus, given that his followers already realize the extent to which the Pharisees see him as a threat?

You know the answer. We all think that it is the Pharisee who is taking the biggest risk. Why? Maybe because, in our minds at least, we think the Pharisee has the most to lose. The Pharisee has power.

We hear much talk these days about the social divisiveness in our country. Where is that divisiveness coming from? Just yesterday politicians in Tennessee raised objections to a basketball team kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. The politicians said their actions disgraced the flag, and those in uniform who have fought for our freedom. The players said it was to generate a deeper conversation about the pervasiveness of racism.

What is a bigger problem in our country? A lack of respect for our flag/military or racism?

Just yesterday, the North Dakota legislature heard a motion to repeal the state’s decision in 1975 to support the Equal Rights Amendment. Is that really, given all that is going on today, such a hot button topic? And why would they consider repealing it? Who wins on that one?

Yes, those last two paragraphs were “political.” So was the Pharisee’s decision to invite Jesus over for dinner!

But what no one expected was the intrusion of a woman with her jar of ointment, her hair, and her tears, honoring Jesus. Or the way that Jesus welcomed her touch.

Because then the true colors flew! The Pharisee was morally APPALLED to see such behavior. SURELY Jesus must have known “what kind of woman that was.” (We can only wonder how HE already knew who she was even as he thought that Jesus ought to have known.)

We’ll give the Pharisee credit for trying but our reading only reveals what kind of hypocrite he proved to be. Why? To protect his own power and privilege. It is always about that, isn’t it?

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, you were twice honored that day. A dinner invitation from a Pharisee and the devotion shown by a woman. You welcomed them both. The breadth of your love has room for all of us. May we never fall prey to the temptation to reject people in order to preserve power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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