Summary: Sermon 2 of 5 on why we do what we do in church. At the Meridian Christian Church we don’t pass an offering plate. Did you ever wonder why?
Luke 7:36-50 (NCV)
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, so Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house and sat at the table. 37 A sinful woman in the town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. So she brought an alabaster jar of perfume 38 and stood behind Jesus at his feet, crying. She began to wash his feet with her tears, and she dried them with her hair, kissing them many times and rubbing them with the perfume.
What? No offering plate?
At the Meridian Christian Church we don’t pass an offering plate. Did you ever wonder why?
Before I address the question of offering boxes vs. offering plates let me address the issue of offerings and giving in general. A lot of people don’t understand the importance of giving… even in church. There are a lot of misconceptions that are taught about money by Christian preachers and not so Christian preachers.
Let me tell you a story about a woman who washed Jesus Feet with her tears and dried them with her hair
It could be called “The Good, the bad, and the ugly”
Jesus was the “good”. He was already being followed from town to town because of his powerful messages about God and for the many miracles he was doing. People were walking who had been lame. People were seeing who had been blind. People were even living who had been dead! This is the kind of person who can draw a crowd.
The woman was the “bad”. Some people connect this woman with Mary Magdalene but there is no way to know that one-way or the other. What is clear is that this is a woman who was known in that day as a harlot. Today she would be called a street prostitute. Not the kind of person that you would expect to hang around a great prophet and spiritual teacher like Jesus.
She came and washed his feet at a banquet thrown by Simon the Pharisee. He was the “ugly”. He was bad and didn’t know it. That’s what made him ugly. Ugly people are bad people who are proud of their badness. Really ugly people are bad people who don’t think they are bad. They are ugly inside and out yet they believe that they are beautiful people.
Simon, (let me clarify that this is not Simon Peter), was a Pharisee. A Pharisee was a religious person who believed in the resurrection of the dead based on their good works.
Now, what this woman did is important. She washed Jesus feet. That is not as weird as it sounds today. In those days it was a common courtesy given to those who were guests in a home. The shoe wear of the day was an open sandal and the streets were dry and dusty.
She washed them with Alabaster jar of perfume and her own tears.
She dried his feet with her own hair. That is severe. It is humbling. You know I get the impression that this was a spontaneous gesture of love. It was unplanned, unexpected, unscripted, and unrehearsed.
She was sitting at home wallowing in self pity and despair over her life when the man that she had heard of, who forgave sin and restored life, was rumored to be over at Simon’s house.
In a sudden burst of hope and faith she grabbed a jar of Alabaster and ran to Simon’s house. She had no towel so she used her hair to wipe his feet dry.
That is what she did. It’s important.
What Simon did not do is important, too. He invited Jesus over for a banquet. The honor was his - not Jesus’. His purpose was selfish and easily seen in that his actions were open to the public. He wasn’t giving anything to Jesus – he was using his presence to build up his own spiritual prestige as a religious leader in the community.
He didn’t wash Jesus’ feet. He didn’t even have a servant do it. By giving so little he showed his disdain for Jesus rather than his love. He questioned Jesus’ wisdom for letting a prostitute was his feet. "Don’t you know this is a sinner?" is what he said to Jesus.
What does this have to do with an offering plate? Well let me tell you the story inside this story. It was told by Jesus to Simon. Jesus was trying to get Simon to see himself.
The story was of two debtors. One who owed about $8.50, the other about 10 times the amount, some $85.00. Doesn’t sound like much but $8.50 is about a days wages. If you make, say $40,000 a year a days wages would be about $160.00. In other words one man owed about $8,000.00 and the other man owed ten times the amount, or some $80,000.00.