Sunday 13 June 2010

Bible Book:

"Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (7:50)

Luke 7:36 - 8:3 Sunday 13 June 2010


Jesus is the invited guest of Simon the Pharisee (a Jewishleader) at a meal which has been interrupted by the appearance of awoman described as a "sinner". The Gospel-writer Luke places thestory immediately after the eulogy to John the Baptist (Luke7:24-35) and there is some agreement that Luke deliberatelyinfers she had been affected by John's ministry. Assuming that tobe the case her manner is one of gratitude rather than direpenitence. She comes in unobtrusively, apparently taking theopportunity to approach Jesus while at the home of a significantfigure. Was her presence a scandal to Simon, or did she comebecause this was known territory for her?

Jesus is reclining at the table, leaning in such a way that hisright hand could reach for food, with his head and shoulders to thelow table. His legs would be stretched out behind him. The womanbrings with her a jar of precious anointing oil fit for the head ofa king. She only has access to his feet and, standing, she bows toanoint and wipe his feet with her hair. The tears are not of sorrowbut of grateful affection.

Whatever her past life we are not given a clue here, although manycommentators paint this "woman in the city" as a prostitute andrelate her to Mary of Magdala or to Mary the sister of Lazarus (John12:1-8).

The parable told by Jesus and to which Simon responds cautiously -he suspects a trap - is one in which the gratitude is in proportionto the grace received. In Jesus' explanation the woman is elevatedfrom intruder to host at the meal. Simon had been a perfectlycorrect host but she had made a profound expression of love andgratitude for the forgiveness she has received. The introduction toJohn's Baptism points her to find faith with its focus in Jesus andhis teaching. Her persistence and adoration is profoundly rewarded:"Go in peace".

To Ponder

How do we treat those who 'intrude' into ourworship and events?

Where are you at this meal? Scandalised thatthose we know as sinners are so overwhelmingly welcomed by Jesus?Observing? Or maybe weeping with gratitude? What are your thoughtsand feelings about what is taking place?

Our devotion may be 'perfectly correct' but is itdeeply grateful in the extravagant way that we see here? How doesthe extravagance of grace affect you?

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