December 5, 2020

Sunday’s Gospel: Teaching One Another

By Chaplain Mike

I’d like to start a new feature on Internet Monk today. We’ll call it “Teaching One Another.”

Each Sunday, I have been posting the lectionary readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. Then I have taken one of the passages (usually the Gospel reading) and given a devotional message from the text. I will continue to do this on some Sundays.

On other Sundays, I will give YOU the opportunity to read and comment upon the passage. As a community, we will ask God to help us “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly;” to “teach and admonish one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). I’ll introduce the text and then it is your turn to add your observations, interpretations, and applications.

My only request is that you be as brief as possible. Don’t think you have to do a full Bible study or sermon for us here. Give us one or two pertinent points from the Biblical passage that you think would be edifying to the iMonk community.

We will begin today with Luke 7:36-8:3.

Introduction
Today is the third Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). Today’s Gospel reading is from Luke 7:36-8:3. This passage includes two sections:

  1. The story of the sinful woman at Simon the Pharisee’s home (7:36-50)
  2. A summary of Jesus’ ministry and the disciples who followed him, including women who provided support (8:1-3)

One prominent theme I observe in this passage: Jesus, breaking social and religious conventions, forgives sinful women and welcomes them into the company of his disciples.

Now, there is obviously a lot more in this passage than that one simple observation. But I leave that up to you today. Ask the Spirit to teach you, focus on Jesus, think about the meaning of the passage, meditate on its implications, and share a few thoughts with us.

Here is Luke 7:36-8:1-3 in the Good News Translation:

7:36 A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus went to his house and sat down to eat. 37 In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life. She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee’s house, so she brought an alabaster jar full of perfume 38 and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him; he would know what kind of sinful life she lives!” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Yes, Teacher,” he said, “tell me.” 41 “There were two men who owed money to a moneylender,” Jesus began. “One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. 42 Neither of them could pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Which one, then, will love him more?” 43 “I suppose,” answered Simon, “that it would be the one who was forgiven more.” “You are right,” said Jesus. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your home, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You did not welcome me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing my feet since I came. 46 You provided no olive oil for my head, but she has covered my feet with perfume. 47 I tell you, then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The others sitting at the table began to say to themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 But Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

8:1 Some time later Jesus traveled through towns and villages, preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of God. The twelve disciples went with him, 2 and so did some women who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (who was called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had been driven out; 3 Joanna, whose husband Chuza was an officer in Herod’s court; and Susanna, and many other women who used their own resources to help Jesus and his disciples.

Now it’s time for us to “teach one another.”

  • What do you observe in this passage?
  • What do you interpret its message to be for those who read it?
  • How might we apply the message of this passage to the life of the church today?
  • Most importantly, what does it tell us about Jesus?

Comments

  1. Chris K. says

    Mike,

    Thanks for initiating this feature. Here’s my brief remarks: I see a contrast between perceived righteousness and acknowledged sin. The result is the woman loves much because she realizes her need for forgiveness, while Simon does not love much because of his perceived righteousness in keeping the law. This is demonstrated by their respective interaction with Jesus. Jesus shows that our faith demonstrated through our actions toward Him shall save us. This salvation is for all people!

  2. Ben Meyer says

    Simon thinks that he is respectable, the woman has come face to face with the reality of her sin.

    C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Problem of Pain,”When we merely say that we are bad, the ‘wrath’ of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God’s goodness.”

    She understands what she deserves and thus, the value of Christ’s forgiveness while Simon still thinks of himself as essentially good and deserving of good from God.

  3. We ought quit being so cotton-pickin religious (what we DO) and have a little more trust in His goodness (what He has done…what He is doing…and what He will yet do…for us).

    • If we truly have faith in Jesus, in His forgiveness, which is the aspect this story unfolds, then it will show forth in our actions. As St Paul stated “faith without works is dead.”

      • Jo Ann Peterson says

        I don’t think it was Paul who said that…James?

        • Thank you Jo Ann !
          I was in such a hurry this morning getting ready to go to my grandaughter’s graduation party I didn’t take the time to look it up. Glad you picked up on it.

  4. This passage makes me wonder if most Christians are more like the Pharisee than the woman of this story. Are we busy living holy lives, and pointing out the sins of others? Do we assume we are better than others, and somehow deserve to be in our position of God’s love and care? Or do we let our guard down, and show with transparency that we too are self centered, messed up, and hurting… yet deeply in love with the one who heals.

    And then there’s a reference to the good news about the kingdom of God. God wants to reign in our lives now and into eternity. Did you know God’s power is available to you? You don’t have to do everything in your own strength and wisdom. Like the women listed in this passage who were healed, if you allow God to rule in your life, instead of your selfish ambitions He will restore your life to what it was intended to be.

  5. God does not judge as we judge. We see the sinful life and condemn, but do not forgive. However, we do not see the moment of repentance – or we do not recognise it when we do see it.

    Both needed forgiveness; the one who owed the fifty and the one who owed the five hundred. The one who only owed fifty should not think this proves greater thrift or more respectability. He could not pay any more than the one who ran up the huge extravagant debt.

    On the other hand, the size of the debt isn’t what matters so much as the inability to pay – for both.

  6. While Simon the pharisee was so carefully guarding the ceremonial cleanliness of his house and person, the perfect son of God had from glory into our unclean world. Simon missed out on the wonder and awe of having God incarnate in his home, he had not even been polite! His vision was so self-centered that he was blind to the biggest opportunity of his life. The woman broken by her sin had clear eyes and a transparent heart and went home immeasurably blessed. I also imagine that tears and hair, while sincere, are probably not the most effective footwashing tools, but I am encouraged that Jesus takes the offering in the spirit it is given.

  7. There is a strange balance between men and women in the text. I think this is intentional, a way of stressing that the enormous traditional distance between men and women epitomized by Simon’s judgments is erased by forgiveness. It’s an undoing of the fracturing of Eden’s mutual shame.

  8. david carlson says

    worship is about who Jesus is, not our expectations of Him. We do not get to define him based upon our theology, works, background, status, or anything else.

  9. God’s unfathomable mercy has so overwhelmed and flooded my heart, soul, mind and life over the years that it is not possible to see the effects of this in the way I live. I have often seen myself in the place of this woman. Bringing my alabaster vase of all that I am, breaking it before Jesus with tears flowing, putting my life before Him. When I allow this merciful love to invade my being it always has widened my heart to become more patient, more forgiving, more generous, more loving and kind towards those I would be inclined not to be loving to. Basically it does what grace ultimately works in the soul; to make us more like Jesus.

    Merciful Trinity, fill us to overflowing with Your Grace, Your Mercy, Your Love, that, we may be transformed in every aspect of our being, the very Image of You, in which we were created, may be “perfected in Love”. May we become more and more Love in this world of hate and live lives doing good to all as You, Jesus, did on the earth.

  10. For the Pharisee, Jesus is a peer and a curiosity, someone with whom to share a meal and conversation. There is no sense that he understands Jesus outside the role of teacher. The woman recognizes Jesus as something precious, a gift unasked for, perhaps a last chance as those who claim to represent God in her community clearly shun her. The woman sees God in Jesus.

    Jesus accepts both responses to his presence. He does not chastise the Pharisee for a lack of faith, but he also does not offer the fullness of his blessing either. It is only when the teachable moment arrives that he gently rebukes his host. This passage reminds me that I miss the mark — widely — if I expect to sit with God on my own terms. I am both the Pharisee and the sinner in my walk with God. When God comes to me and I think I know who I’m dealing with, I am humbled to discover so much more.

  11. In both this story and another instance in which a woman pours expensive perfume on Christ, women are faulted either for inappropriate behavior (“who does she think she is?”) or for extravagance (“why doesn’t she sell that perfume and give the money to the poor?”). In both cases, the women are in the right because their gesture is an deep act of worship rooted in their understanding of God’s gracious action in the world. Their act confounds and offends those who are demanding that they conform to established rules or restrict their actions to narrow functionalism — both women worship; both are told to mind themselves or do something ‘useful’ instead.

  12. Steve Newell says

    I also see the story of good works: good Works that are gain our salvation and good works that are the result of our salvation. Simon’s good works were to gain favor with God. Simon was focused on having the “right” relationships, the “right” views, the “right” behavior. He did not see himself as a sinner in need of forgiveness. His statement “If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him; he would know what kind of sinful life she lives!” shows that that he did not understand how sinful he was.

    The women came and performed a good work based on what has already happened to her when Jesus said ” I tell you, then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven.”. The love of Jesus, she experienced was great, since she knew that her sins were great.

    Do we see ourselves as great sinners who need to hear the words of Christ that our sins are forgiven? On Sunday morning, to hear the Pastor proclaim that our sins are forgiven in Christ is truly Good News.

  13. I wonder if the tepid love that we often experience for God is actually caused by our lack of realization of just how much we have been forgiven of, redeemed from, and saved unto? May God open our eyes to know that we have been forgiven of much, and therefore cause us to love much.

  14. Just a few years ago something struck me that I’d never seen before in this passage. The Pharisee was concerned about Jesus interacting with this woman, yet she was in this very Pharisee’s house! How did she gain access? The Pharisee obviously knew this woman was in his house, yet there seems to be no problem on his part, especially considering who she was.

    Could we see this in modern day America? An unclean woman in our house who was a member of our community? What does this say about our sense of community in America in comparison to the sense of community that even the Pharisees had in ancient Israel? Shouldn’t our righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees?

    • Steve writes, “The Pharisee was concerned about Jesus interacting with this woman, yet she was in this very Pharisee’s house! How did she gain access?”

      That’s a good question, Steve. Did she just follow along with Jesus to the gathering and the pharisee felt he couldn’t ask her to leave since she seemed to be with Jesus?

      I also wish we had more in writing about Joanna and Susanna, but I think it is wonderful and amazing that we even have their names! (Though I know those names are Anglicized from what they would have really been.)

    • We probably shouldn’t think of houses in the modern sense, fully enclosed and having no access to outsiders. With open courtyards and patios, the houses probably were adjacent to neighbors’ homes and the street itself, and thus it would have been easy for the woman to gain access to where they were having dinner.

  15. Tim Becker says

    When Jesus said to her, “your faith has saved you”, I wonder what that meant to her? Saved from hell as most evangelicals would maintain, or something else?

  16. Jesus Christ: “I tell you, then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.”

    Paul McCartney: “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

  17. David Cornwell says

    The Pharisees told Jesus that he should know this woman was a sinner. Ever heard a similar remark? Jesus in his response proved that he knew her better than anyone and that he knew her by her actions and love.

    The general context for his teaching and preaching was “the Good News about the Kingdom.” Those accompanying him were not only the disciples, but a group of women who had been healed by him and the wife of a member of Herod’s court. The Kingdom was casting a wide and improbable net.

  18. 1. The Pharisee invited Jesus into his home, the woman invited Jesus into her heart by faith.
    2. How scandalously awesome is this story?

  19. Sorry I’m posting outside the guidelines. I’m not offering commentary, just feedback.
    Chaplain Mike, you’ve outdone yourself again. This is a brilliant idea and I’ll look forward to it each time.

  20. I actually preached on this. It took nearly half an hour, but here’s the condensed version:

    It’s a Tale of Two Sinners.

    One self-satisfied, thinking that the problem is the sins of others. Jesus is perhaps an opportunity for a fix for Israel, hence the invitation to dinner, to be measured up and judged.

    The other repentant, knowing that the problem is her own sin. Jesus is her only hope of forgiveness, hence the prostration at his feet. Once forgiven, no devotion is too extravagant.

    Which are you? Whose sins grieve or offend you? And who is Jesus? Someone you may invite to your life if that suits you? Or do you heed His invitation to His banquet — a banquet for penitent sinners?

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  22. Olive oil is very tasty and has some nutty taste too..:,