Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eye of the beholder

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.
Luke 7:39 (NIV)

From an early age, my children developed a huge affection for spending time on their grandparents' farm. My rather gregarious, outdoorsy-type daughter could barely contain her excitement as she waited her turn to hold a squiggly, bristly-haired piglet. Her more cautious, introspective older brother was a bit less taken with the squealing noises and strong odors of the farrowing house. He'd rather help drive a "four-wheeler" hauling grain to feed livestock.

Their fondness for country life grew out of different perspectives of their visits. Same experiences. Different viewpoints.

Such was the case of a woman in Jesus' day.

Jesus accepted an invitation from Simon the Pharisee to have dinner with him in his house. As He reclined at the religious leader's table, a well-known sinful woman in that town came.

Dinners like the one hosted by Simon were not private; it was common to allow others access to meals given in honor of a major teaching figure. Even so, it took a lot of courage for this woman to go to a house she knew she was not welcome. Unnamed, we're not told the circumstances of her life or about the choices she made. Whatever her sin, her reputation preceded her.

A she approached Jesus, Simon shuddered at the very thought of Jesus being touched by someone with such a tarnished reputation. A teacher in the synagogue, a religious example in the eyes of the people, a self-appointed guardian of proper Mosaic Law observances, Simon passed the verdict in his heart that Jesus could not be a prophet. If He were, certainly He would know "who is touching him and what kind of woman she is."

Filled with loving sympathy, Jesus embraced the woman's expression of lavish love. Turning toward the woman, the Son of Man who spoke with authority, the Word of God made flesh, the One who came to fulfill the law said to Simon, "Do you see this woman...You did not give me any water for my feet...she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair...You did not give me a kiss...this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet...she has poured perfume on my feet." (Luke 7:44-47)

The self-righteous Pharisee took into account the outward appearance of the woman's life. The One who searches hearts and minds saw deep into a heart of humility.

An I-feel-pretty-good-about-myself Simon perceived filthy living. The Light of Life understood the sorrowful tears of a desperate woman looking down into the abyss of a life of shame.

The smell of the woman's perfumed immorality filled Simon with loathing. The Fragrance of God breathed in the sweet aroma of repentance.

Embarrassed by the woman's stained reputation, the synagogue leader branded her an outcast. Overflowing with boundless grace, the Friend of tax collectors and sinners forgave the woman's sins and urged her to experience His peace. Where sanctimonious Simon damned a life not worth saving, the Lamb of God saved a soul that was drawn to new life.

Aaahh, yes. How people, events, or circumstances are perceived depends on the eye of the beholder.

Lord, by Your grace I want to be different. Please let me see through Your eyes. I want what you see in the value of a person to shape the rest of my life.

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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