Monday, January 01, 2007



Here in this last story of Luke 7 we come to a scene that simply begs to be read, because it takes little commentary to understand what is happening. Check it out:

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." 
"Tell me, teacher," he said.

"Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

I love this story. Through this openly recognized, sinful woman Jesus illustrates His message most clearly.

There in the home of one of the Pharisees Jesus is being treated to dinner. In the Pharisee’s home, you just know that he is looking for the opportunity to impress Jesus with his religious purity and righteousness. Most likely, others knew of this special dinner meeting with Jesus and there was somewhat of an anticipation, if not a tenseness about the evening they were to spend together.

But at this most holy performance, a party crasher has just appeared in the house, definitely not on the official invitation list. But this wasn’t a socialite barging into this party, this was a woman-of-the-night kind of woman—a sinner in most every respect.

NOTE the following observations:
1. The pure Pharisee is upstaged by the impure woman. The Pharisee was the host and expected to be seen as the prominent focus of attention. Yet this unrighteous, sinful woman took center stage and became the focus of attention for the evening.
2. Not only her presence at the dinner party was offensive, but her touching and washing the feet of Jesus with such extravagant perfume certainly posed a great offence. It was unlawful to be in the presence of such a woman, let alone have contact with her. Yet, Jesus allowed her to express herself.
3. The performing Pharisee was out performed by this sinful woman. The Pharisee embodied the performance mentality of keeping the Law and the traditions. But the sinful woman’s performance was in the spirit of gratefulness and servanthood.
4. Jesus affirmed what was at the core of this woman’s masterful performance. It was her faith that set her performance apart. She performed alright—even more than the Pharisee—and her performance was an overflow of her faith and devotion to Jesus.

This scene in the life of Jesus is about people who need forgiveness and know it.
 It’s about people who receive forgiveness and are grateful for it.
 It’s also about people who need forgiveness and don't know it.
 It’s about religious people who absolutely, totally miss the point!

Jesus demonstrates that God wants a personal relationship with people, no matter what they have done or haven’t done. Life isn’t a checklist for following a religious system of do’s and don’ts, even if it is a good religious system. It’s all about a relationship of faith (personal trust) and forgiveness (personal acceptance of God’s grace).

The woman is totally acceptable to Jesus and completely unacceptable to the Pharisee. Jesus more freely accepts the sinner, the broken one, and stands a distance away from the self-righteous Pharisee. So, which are you? The person who is in need of forgiveness and knows it and is grateful when it is received? Or, the person who needs forgiveness and doesn’t know it, therefore missing the point of Jesus’ message altogether?



The Top 10 New Year’s resolutions as reflected in most polls in the USA are:
1) Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2) Fit in Fitness
3) Tame the Bulge
4) Quit Smoking
5) Enjoy Life More
6) Quit Drinking
7) Get Out of Debt
8) Learn Something New
9) Help Others
10) Get Organized

I’m sure most of us are able to claim one or more of these as our own personal resolutions. I know I can. I have kept only a few of my New Year’s resolves. It certainly makes me a better person just to reflect on and evaluate my life each year and for that there is no doubt a little improvement in some areas.

However, I am through with any medium to high expectations that may come through my New Year’s resolutions. Life is too short to count on resolutions to make significant changes in my life. Resolutions can only REFORM what I already have going for me or not going for me. In 2007 I am for revolution. Revolution can TRANSFORM my life.

In Diana’s favorite verse, Psalm 51:9, it is very clear what David is asking for. He says, “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.” He isn’t making a resolution to change his heart nor is it a prayer for God to change or reform his heart, but to create in him a new heart. I don’t want Jesus to change or reform my old heart, filled with habits that just aren’t working or moving in the right direction. What I need is a TRANSFORMATION—a new heart altogether. I want my heart to be beating with the heart of God. I want to be transformed. By the way, I've seen this work in Diana's life and it's not only transforming; it's beautiful!

RESOLUTION is just another DO-OVER, reforming and refashioning my old stuff. What I want and need is a REVOLUTION—a spiritual heart transplant by the best heart surgeon in the universe. His name is Jesus.

1. Place your name on God’s heart transplant list. Pray continually for God to “Create a clean heart” within you and mean every word of it. You have to be totally desperate to be put on the list for a heart transplant as my friend Don was. But for God’s heart transplant you must not only be desperate (that’s a given); you must want it with everything that is within you.

2. Plan a daily transfusion. A transfusion literally is to pour something from one container to another—to spread throughout something and affect every part of it. You need to transfuse your life every day (preferably morning) with Jesus. He is the one who has created everything and holds everything together, so why not connect with Jesus every day—to what He said, what He did and what He is saying and doing today. (1) Read a paragraph or so out of the gospels (Matthew-Mark-Luke-John). Listen or read the Acts 29 Daily, read a chapter a day of the Acts of Jesus. (2) Lay out to Jesus what you are thinking and what you want. (3) Take the time to be quiet and listen to His answers back to you.

3. Make appointments with other heart transplant patients. Don’t even think about walking through life’s stresses and difficulties alone. You are not strong enough to handle all that is thrown at you AND you will tend to forget the revolution is still on here on planet earth.

4. Wait for further instructions from your doctor. Jesus is eager to set up all sorts of divine appointments for you. These divine appointments will be a variety of orders from Him and opportunities that only He could set up for you. Jesus will make the appointments. All you have to do is SHOW UP.

Don’t just make New Year’s resolutions this year. Make some direct and determined moves toward a personal revolution in your heart. Instead of being resolutionary about your life; be a revolutionary.

Jesus is and has always has been the greatest revolutionary—turning the world upside down by turning people inside out. And don’t forget, THE REVOLUTION IS STILL ON!