Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

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

Do You See? Breaking Boundaries 4

Feb 8, 2009 Luke 7:36-50


Charlie chaplin face illusion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_vtZXELRK8&eurl=http://www.moillusions.com/2006/06/charlie-chaplin-hollow-face-illusion.html&feature=player_embedded

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.

39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he 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."

40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Tell me, teacher," he said.

41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,(one denarii equaling an average day’s wage) and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

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