Meals with Jesus: Anointed @ Simon’s

Please read: Luke 7:36-5

 

Kisses form many kinds of greetings. There is the kiss of first love that is often glorified in the Disney movies. In the Mafia, a kiss can mean execution but it must be distinct because they kiss each other all the time too. The other gospels place this meal not long before Jesus was arrested, tried illegally and sentenced to death. In this time 2 kisses were given to Jesus, one is beautiful and one is treacherous. One is of adoration and one is of betrayal. Today we will look at the first.

A couple of days before Passover Jesus was dining at the home of Simon, a Pharisee and as he was reclining at the table, (the old Jewish method of eating was to sit cross-legged on the floor or on a divan, but the Persians, Greeks and Romans reclined on couches, and the Jews, after the exile, borrowed this custom.) Homes in the time of Jesus, especially large homes had semi-public areas often opening out into a courtyard where anyone could enter. As Jesus was reclining a woman came to him with an alabaster flask full of perfume, stood behind him kneeling at his feet weeping and wiping them with her hair. A kiss and a foot washing were the ordinary, customary greetings given to a guest, yet, the host has neglected to offer Jesus this common courtesy. Although that greeting was common it was not usual for an unknown woman to do this so intimately, he does not stop her even though his reputation is at stake. The woman had graced the feet of Jesus with those honours which Simon had withheld. Luke’s focus is on the fact that she loved much, as he presents her actions of love in stark contrast to Simon the Pharisee’s lack of love and lack of propriety toward his guest. When does your reputation prevent you from associating and even receiving from those whose lifestyle you may not approve of? Don’t be a graceless, sinful Simon. Jesus was ministered to by a ‘sinful’ woman, who is perhaps a party crasher but unlike Simon, she is forgiven and she is the ‘host’.

Simon, who as a pharisee would have guarded purity, sarcastically says if Jesus was a prophet he would have known the sort of woman who was touching him, a sinner. By this readers often assume she was a prostitute which may not have been the case as in Luke’s culture “when respectable women appeared in public, their silence was expected. This was not the case with prostitutes, who were expected to be verbally entertaining…  The woman’s silence suggests that she did not have this freedom precisely because she was not a prostitute.” No one is surprised at her presence at the meal, women were often around “it is not the presence of the woman which causes anger” at this meal it is what she does.

AND what she does is extravagant; the perfume she pours over Jesus is worth a whole year’s wages. Can you imagine one jar of perfume that cost several thousand dollars? Thousands of dollars evaporating into thin air — gone forever. A year’s worth of manual labour, gone, just like that. This shows us something of the intensity of this woman’s love for Jesus. How do you show your love for Jesus? What are you willing to pour out for Him? The amount of perfume she had was the exact amount used for burial. This woman possibly gave Him the honour of properly and nobly preparing Him for that death. She had no idea how much this act of worship meant to Jesus, and clearly, it meant a great deal to Him. Perhaps her extravagant, loving sacrifice helped Him face the cross for all of us.

PRAYER: Spend some time pouring out to Jesus your love for Him and ask Him to show you how else you can declare your love for Him and devotion to Him?

(Written by Ange van der Leeuw)

SONG: Alabaster Jar by Light of the World (www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6GeVG1CNso)