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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Anointing of Jesus -- Luke



          Prior to this, Jesus has saved the gentile centurion's son from death and has raised the widow's son from death. Jesus showed His power to heal and raise people from death to resurrected life. These miracles of Jesus filled some present with awe and prompted them to say of Jesus, “A great prophet has appeared among us. God has come to help His people.” Luke 7:16  No doubt Simon has seen or heard about Jesus' miracle so he invites Jesus to his house so He can see and hear first hand and judge for himself if Jesus is a “prophet” of God. There would be many more guests invited as well including other Pharisees. Jesus ate at the homes of the teachers of the Law as well as sinners and tax collectors. He was unbiased and accepted invitations from all who asked Him to come. His heart was open to save all and He wanted to reach all whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. He is no respecter of persons. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
          This event of Jesus' anointing by a woman occurs at the last week of His life in the other three gospels, but here in Luke, it takes place much earlier in Jesus' ministry,  The anointing of Jesus by a woman is in the beginning and at the end of His earthly life. Here in Luke, it takes place in the small village of Nain in Galilee. Luke is the only gentile writer of a gospel, so Luke may see through a gentile's eyes.
        In the midst of Simon's male guests, a woman appears and stands behind Jesus at His feet as He is reclining on a couch at table. His feet were bare because guests would remove their dirty, dusty sandals before entering a home. Normally the host of the invited guest would kiss an honored guest on the cheek in greeting, anoint the head of an honored guest with oil, and provide a basin of water and a towel to cleanse the dust off of his feet. This was common hospitality in biblical times. Washing a guest's feet was usually given to the lowest servant.
       In Luke, this woman is identified as a “sinful” woman, so she risked humiliation and rejection by coming into a Pharisee's house. A Pharisee would never allow one they thought was unclean, especially a harlot woman, to come into their house. They considered both gentiles and sinners unclean. (see Peter's vision in Acts 10 and the law regarding unclean in Leviticus 7:21; Romans 14:14) The Pharisees' idea of holiness was in separating from sinners and the unclean, but Jesus' way is to bring them into the fold. Simon wanted to keep away from sinners but Jesus came to seek and save lost sinners. First God gave the Law to show us that no human can live up to the demands of the Law because we have a sinful nature that is weak. Based upon the Law and the Prophets, Jesus would have to separate from sinners to remain holy. But Jesus invites sinners into His House. Out of His love for humanity, God in His love sent grace and truth through His Son, who could and did live up to the demands of the Law fully and completely.  Because of Jesus' sacrificial death, we can freely come and worship Him from the love in our hearts. Great love followed great sin in God's gift of His Son, just as great love for Jesus followed this woman's great sin that He forgave.
          The Body of Christ must be careful not to make the same mistake as the Pharisees. Jesus was moved with compassion for lost, hurting sinners who are dead in sin. We must be also.
        Simon wasn't concerned about “waste” as the others were in Matthew, Mark and John. He was more concerned about this sinful woman entering the house and touching Jesus! Because this sinful woman touched Jesus, Simon believed that Jesus was contaminated and, therefore, unholy! And to make matters worse for Simon, Jesus forgave her sinful life indicating that He was God. He could handle Jesus being a prophet and teacher, but God!!! No human could contaminate Jesus by touching Him. His divine holiness was within because He was sinless in His heart, mind, soul and Spirit. Christ-followers cannot be made unholy by a sinner's touch either. We can, however, be led into temptation and sin by the actions and sins of others if we are not careful. This is why God tells us to guard our hearts.


          This woman came to Jesus as a repentant sinner carrying her precious ointment in her alabaster jar. She knew Jesus well enough to know that He wouldn't reject her. Her focus was on her Savior whom she loved, but Simon's focus was on the sinful woman.
           As the woman stood behind Jesus, she began to weep tears of repentance and tears of love and gratitude. No doubt her sinfulness next to His sinlessness brought her to tears. Her flood of tears dropped down on the feet of Jesus. She washed His feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair. 1 Corinthians 11:15 shows us that a woman's long hair is her glory.  In other words, this sinful woman gave her glory to Jesus and wiped the dirt off of His feet with her long hair. In biblical times, a Jewish woman would not loose her hair in public. Doing so in public would be shameful. But this woman wasn't concerned with what the others thought. Her heart and mind were on Jesus. She would use her long hair (glory) to serve Him and cleanse the dirt of the earth from His feet.
          Jesus abides in us. We are His feet on earth. When our walk is soiled with the things of the earth, He is dishonored. Jesus wants His feet kept clean by each follower keeping their own feet (walk) clean by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we do this, we bring glory and honor to Jesus. When we act in a manner unworthy of Jesus, we dishonor Him. Jesus would soon take the same position as this sinful woman as He washes His disciples' feet. Then He asked His disciples if they understood what He had just done. When Peter objected, Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part in me.” John 13:8  He further instructed that we are to wash one another's feet. The priests in the Older Testament had to wash their hands and feet before they could minister at the brazen altar of sacrifice. (Exodus 30:17-21) Their hands represented their ministry/work and their feet their walk. Jesus is the Laver that holds the water of the Word and the Holy Spirit that cleanses us. The Holy Spirit is the difference between a dead and a living sacrifice.  In the Older Testament, the animal sacrifices were dead sacrifices, but followers of Christ are living sacrifices because the Holy Spirit and Jesus live within us.
          The feet hold the whole weight of the Body. Our spiritual walk also supports the Body as Jesus the Chief Cornerstone supports the weight of all the others who become His Temple. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Satan is defeated under our cleansed feet. (see Acts 2:35)  Dust and flesh are the food of the devil. Jesus wants to wash away our fleshly ways and the dust of the earthly ways so we will walk as He walked in the power of the Holy Spirit. Although the feet are the lowest part, they are capable of crushing the serpent's head. (Romans 16:20)  Because of Jesus and the authority He has given us, we can put the devil under our feet.
         Revelation shows us that the feet are the place of worship and honor. John fell at the feet of Jesus in Revelation 1:17.  John knew that he was in the presence of God. The feet are also the place of humility. Peter tells us that we are to be clothed with humility. (see 1 Peter 5:5) This sinful woman was clothed with humility and worshiping Jesus. God chose this sinful woman to come to Jesus and worship Him. God established worship for penitent sinners. In the Older Testament, God instituted rules, rituals and sacrifices for sinners. He also instituted songs of worship and feasts. These were commanded under the Law, but in the New Covenant, God instituted worship through hearts full of love for His precious Son. Because God sent Jesus into the world to save it through His love and sacrifice, God wants all believers to now offer their worship of Jesus through a heart of love and a sacrificial life. God no longer demands it, but wants it to come from willing love in our hearts. The Bible says we are to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
          This sinful woman not only washed Jesus' feet, she kissed them and poured the most valuable thing she possessed – her sweet fragrance – on them. When we love and worship Jesus and walk in His feet/ways, we too are a sweet fragrance to Him. People will see the difference in us and want to know Jesus too. This woman poured her precious perfume that was reserved for her earthly husband over her spiritual Husband Jesus. Her worship and love for Jesus was a great cost to her. It cost her the risk of rejection, the judgment and condemnation of the others, the humility of kissing and washing His dirty feet, and her most valuable possession. She not only poured out her perfume upon Him but her heart also. Yes, there is a cost to loving and following Jesus. This woman adored and loved Jesus and kissed the lowest and dirtiest part of His body. Jesus may ask you to love the lowest and dirtiest sinner in His Body. Of all of the virtues, love is the greatest. (l Corinthians 13)
           Simon the Pharisee wanted to prove that Jesus was a phony and couldn't be a prophet of God as the people declared in v16.  Simon was well aware that the others in the room were watching him to see his reaction to this. Simon's religion blinded him to the truth. Those who are rigid and religious cannot understand a heart motivated by love.  Simon would have never let this sinful woman touch him because according to the Law, he would be considered unclean if he did. Simon said to himself, “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.” v39  Simon said this to himself, but Jesus knew his thoughts. Jesus responds with a parable about two debtors. Instead of openly exposing Simon's heart and humiliating him, Jesus concealed the truth in a parable and let Simon figure it out for himself. Simon didn't call Jesus “Lord.” He called Jesus “Teacher.” Jesus was not His Lord. Simon invited Jesus into his house, but not his heart.
           The two debtors in Jesus' parable represent the Pharisee and the sinful woman. Jesus is the Creditor. One debtor owed 500 denarii and the other 50 denarii. Five is the number of grace, so these numbers represent greater grace and even greater grace to the one who was forgiven much.  Neither had the money to pay the debt so the Creditor cancelled the debts of both. As Jesus often did, He ended the parable with a question: “Now which of these will love Him (Creditor) more?” v42
          Simon thought that he was more righteous and less a debtor than this sinful woman. Both Simon and the woman were indebted to the Creditor because they are both sinners indebted to God.   It doesn't matter how much of a sinner we are in God's eyes. God hates any sin because He loves us and knows that sin binds us. Jesus paid the price for the sin of the whole world. Simon responded to Jesus' question saying, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus commends him for his correct response.
          Jesus then turned toward the woman and put Simon behind Him. Simon was being used as a tool of the devil. He then told Simon the difference between the hospitality and lack of love that he showed Jesus next to this sinful woman's love, gratitude and honor toward the One who forgave her sins. This sinful woman showed remorse and repentance for her sin, but Simon didn't think he needed forgiveness. Up to this point, the woman is behind Jesus. Now Jesus turns his back to Simon and turns toward her. Jesus knew both of their hearts. The sinful woman's sincere love and devotion to Christ was greater than the reactions and scorn of the self-righteous. Simon trusted his religion, but the woman understood Jesus' love, forgiveness and grace. Jesus will reveal Simon's lack next to this repentant woman's extravagant love.
           When you invite a person into your home in the Middle East, he is an honored guest and there are certain customs regarding hospitality that the host of the house would do. This repentant woman did what Simon the Pharisee omitted. Not only did the woman do what Simon didn't, she surpassed the custom requirements.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."  This sinful woman is surpassing the usual custom requirements of the teachers of the Law.
  • You did not give me any water for My feet,, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.”
  • You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet.
  • You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet. To anoint one's head is a mark of honor. To anoint one's feet showed humility, submission, and respect. Her anointing was more valuable than the ordinary anointing! F. B. Meyer says that we have to go down lower to give our best gift and receive His best gift.
          Simon didn't give Jesus the bare minimum of respect and honor. Simon was trying to prove Jesus wrong. His motive was impure. Love for Jesus was missing in Simon's heart.  He didn't give Jesus a basin of water, but this saved sinner poured out her tears of remorse and repentance on His feet and wiped them with her hair instead of the usual towel. Simon didn't give his honored guest a greeting kiss, but this woman didn't stop kissing His feet. Simon didn't put any oil on Jesus' head, but the forgiven woman poured her precious and expensive perfume on Jesus' feet.
          “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” v 48   Her heart at that moment was fully loving, devoted, generous and fully belonged to Jesus. This woman was a sinner saved by God's grace through Jesus Christ.-
         Jesus came to bear the sin of both Simon and this sinful woman. The one who thought himself righteous – Simon – went away unforgiven, but the repentant woman was forgiven. Recognizing the severity and amount of sin in us next to our Lord's holiness should instill much love and gratitude toward our forgiver Jesus. Those who have a shallow understanding of their own sinfulness will probably love Him less because they don't comprehend how much they have been forgiven. And, the self-righteous will also love Him less because they see themselves as righteous already and need no forgiveness.
        The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sin?” The Pharisees knew that only God could forgive sin, so Jesus by doing so is claiming to be God. This was blasphemous to them. (see Matthew 9:2-3) Blasphemy was punishable by death in the Law. (see Leviticus 24:11, 16) In John 10:33, the Pharisees picked up stones to stone Jesus to death “for blasphemy, because you a mere man claim to be God.” Jesus escaped them this time because His time had not come to die.
          Jesus said to the repentant woman, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Her faith in the grace and mercy of her Lord and Savior Jesus saved her. It wasn't her works that saved her. Her works for Jesus emanated from her deep love and devotion to Him for all that He is. Knowing that her debt of sin was forgiven gave her peace.

         We worship God as sinners on earth, but we will fall down to His feet and worship Him sinless in heaven.  
                              (Next week John -- Mary anoints Jesus' feet)

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