Summary: When would the kiss of a prostitute EVER be acceptable? When it honored the man who forgave her sins.
Alan Calhoun of Bristol, Connecticut told of a tag sale (garage sale) he and wife had several years ago. They had decided to put out a mirror they’d received as a wedding gift. The reason they were selling it was that it had a gaudy aqua-colored metal frame and they just couldn’t find a room in their house where it looked good.
Shortly after the tag sale began, a man (who was looking to decorate his apartment) bought the mirror for one dollar. He was all excited, and he said as he bought it: “This is a great deal - it still has the plastic on it.” Then he peeled off the aqua-colored protective covering… to reveal a beautiful gold finished frame underneath.
Lots of people go to garage sales looking for bargains just like that.
Some people have a saying about garage sales:
"One man’s trash is another man’s (pause) treasure,"
The belief is that once in a while you’ll stumble upon a treasure that the owner doesn’t know the value of.
I. Jesus had been preaching Galilee for nearly a year now and He’s a very popular man, particularly amongst the common people. Already He has healed a leper, a paralytic and dozens of other people. He has even cast out demons and raised a widow’s son from the dead. And all this has taken place before the event we see recorded here in Luke 7:36ff.
Everybody loved Jesus. Well… almost everybody. The Pharisees actually hated Him. He didn’t pander to their crowd, and occasionally He said things that ruffled their feathers and challenged their man made rules.
They don’t like Him, but they’re not sure how to handle Him.
They’ve tried ignoring Him.
They’ve tried publicly opposing Him.
And they’ve tried entrapping Him in doctrinal disputes
Nothing seems to work.
But now - Simon the Pharisee believes he’s found the way to take Jesus out. A way he believes will humiliate this new teacher and render His influence useless.
II. Simon invites Jesus to a meal – and then he snubs Him.
Good manners in that day required the host to have his servant wash the guest’s feet. That servant was then expected to anoint his visitor’s head with oil. All that was handled through a servant
But the host himself did something special for this guest – he would greet his guest with a kiss on the cheek. This kiss was a special honor that a host gave his guest. The host was essentially declaring that he regarded his guest as his equal. It was a signal that this honored guest was like one of the family.
Simon not only didn’t think of Jesus as “one of the family”, he held Him in contempt and didn’t care who knew it.
But why go to all the trouble invited this new teacher to your home, putting on a lavish meal and perhaps even opening your home to the community so that they can come and observe him… and then insult Jesus in front of everybody?
I believe Simon’s objective was to get under Jesus’ skin. To throw Him off balance. He intended to goad Jesus into making a statement or behaving in such a way that he could then use to embarrass Him and use against Jesus.
Illustration: A few years back President Clinton was being challenged by the Republican congress which was then led by Newt Gingrich. Some believe that the President successfully humiliated Congressman Gingrich and then used the situation against the congressman.
Gingrich had been traveling on Air Force One and felt that he had been snubbed and relegated to the back of the plane. If insulting Gingrich had been what the President or his aides intended – it worked beautifully. Gingrich rose to the bait and openly complained to the press about his supposed mistreatment. The result was that the congressman was publicly viewed as a spoiled child and the President became portrayed as a misunderstood statesman. It was the beginning of the end for Gingrich’s career and his threat to President Clinton.
I believe that was Simon the Pharisee’s objective with Jesus. And it could have worked. Hebrews tells us Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin” (He 4:15)
Now, Jesus knew Simon’s behavior was intended as an insult. He knew Simon’s heart.
In my own experience, I’ve had people treat me rudely too, and I haven’t always responded well to it. Even though I was a Christian, there was something galling about being mistreated in this way and my anger took over.
We’ve all encountered this at one time or another and we’ve said things we shouldn’t or… behaved in a less than gracious manner. I’m sure Jesus was “tempted” to respond badly to this pettiness by Simon, too. But Jesus was more gracious than I have often been.