Summary: When we look through the eyes of God at the people around us, we don’t see the surface. We don’t see the socially acceptable or expected. We don’t see just the past and the mistakes. We see a lost child of God, and we see an opportunity to share a stor

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Do You See? Breaking Boundaries 4

Feb 8, 2009 Luke 7:36-50


Charlie chaplin face illusion:

The British guy narrating the clip makes a fascinating statement: “Your brain refuses to see it as hollow… and this demonstrates the immense power of top-down knowledge, which will actually counter signals bottom-up from the senses, and force an extraordinary illusion in which the sensory information of the present is cancelled by immense knowledge derived from the past.”

Jesus had the exact same impact on his society. He came into a world where there was an “immense knowledge derived from the past”, which completely determined the way many people chose to see and understand their present, and Jesus spoke truth so that people would have the opportunity to see reality from God’s point of view. An optical illusion, such as the one we just watched, is at best intriguing. When Jesus reversed things, many found it offensive, base, unacceptable, and simply wrong. Today we are going to see another example of that as we continue our journey through Luke 7.


Last Sunday we heard Jesus speak the words, “34 The Son of Man… feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!” And then, to make the point even more obvious, Luke tells another story.

But before I read the story, we once again need to step into a far different time and culture, so that we understand what is happening. In Jesus’ time, wealthy people would, from time to time, throw a banquet in their homes, and they may invite a visiting teacher as an honoured guest. Now, on these occasions, the meal was a semi-public affair: the door would be open for any who wanted to come and watch the meal. Invited guests would be served food, and others would simply be allowed in to listen to the conversation to follow, which often included a time of debate, discussion, or teaching. At these banquets, the guests would lay on their sides, with their heads towards the extremely low table, feet out behind them.

We also must remember that there were very strict guidelines governing male-female interaction. Women were treated poorly – they were to always keep their heads covered, they were not to speak to men, there would certainly be no touching unless established roles demanded it, such as a female servant washing the feet of a guest. There were no public displays of affection. One of the leading schools of thought (Hillel) permitted a man to divorce his wife if she burned his dinner. I had a Bible prof who once explained that in Jesus’ day, the social ranking went: men, dogs, women. Now imagine how much further dismissed would be a woman who was a prostitute. That should be enough to shed beginning light on the story:

Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)

36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

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