There has never been a teacher like Jesus. He spoke the words of God with such power and authority that everywhere He went people marveled at His wisdom. Whether he was teaching in the synagogue or telling parables on the road by a vineyard, Jesus could hold a crowd in rapt attention. One of His favorite settings to impart the truth of God was around the mealtime. Reclining at a low table, dusty feet extended away from the table, Jesus was always winsome and wise, sharing life altering lessons as He ate with new friends. Can you imagine having dinner with Jesus?
Luke 7 records such a scene. The dinner host, named Simon, welcomed Jesus to a meal, but thoughtlessly extended none of the common courtesies expected in a culture with a high view of hospitality. As a privileged man, a Pharisee, he provided an impressive meal. But by his neglect of Jesus, he shows his intention to impress his friends more than to be appropriately hospitable. He doesn’t mind being seen with Jesus but keeps Him at arm’s length. He offered no kiss of welcome. No provision was made for the common washing of dusty feet before a guest of honor reclined to eat. There was no blessing given. Simon was polite but guarded. He was open to having Jesus in the house but reluctant to be drawn into serious spiritual conversation.
Simon is not unusual; his is a common response. Many people are open to having Jesus around but never come to make up their minds about Him with any sense of true conviction. He’s there in the house but they remain on the periphery, never quite honoring Him with the appropriate response. They hear Him speak, but don’t listen. They remain polite around His spiritual claims but have never appropriated them personally. They are at church, but they never join in. They allege token respect but never give sacrificially of themselves.
In stark contrast a broken but grateful woman slipped into the house quietly and took her place at Jesus’ feet, washing them with her tears, wiping them with her hair. She worshipped with gratitude and served Him with joy. Hers was the response of a Kingdom follower. Poor in spirit; overflowing with repentance. Then she gave of herself because she knew she was both loved by Jesus and forgiven of her sins. She could not hide her love nor hold back extravagant gratitude – no matter what others would think or say.
Jesus promised her: “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” He said it again and again. She is the dinner guest Jesus blesses with peace and full forgiveness. She could not express her gratitude too much or too often. He sends her out in peace and on mission. So he does with us as well. Let’s be good dinner guests with Jesus!