Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Foot Wash: degree of love 足をぬぐう:愛の度合い

   You might observe that while most parables are found in Gospel of Matthew, we often remember more from Luke’s writings. We provided you with a complete list of Luke' parables in the handout.  The first one in Luke comes in Chapter 7.  The whole chapter is FULL of interesting accounts that could keep us busy for quite some time, but we are going to study the parables and miracles of Jesus and only the ones that are found in Luke. 
Let’s read this one right now: Luke 7:36-50 36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with Him, He went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 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. 38 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.
39 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.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, Teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 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?
43 Simon replied, I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”  “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 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. 45 You did not give Me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on My feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.
48 Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
   The chapter starts with the story of the Faith of the Centurion.  Jesus is very impressed with the Faith He sees in this non-Jewish person. When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
   The next story is the raising of the widow’s son outside the funeral city of Nain.  Then He met with John’s disciples who ask Him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
   Then in verse 22, Jesus answers with a question: 22 So He replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of Me.”
   The Lord then does some more teaching and then Luke takes us to this story of a visit to the house of a Pharisee.  To a house where degrees of love is witnessed.
   This story within a story asks the question: “Who loves more?”  Do you love someone?  Do you love some kind of food? Do you love a nation?  A movie?  A cat?  We can see the ease of degrees don’t we in the definition of love.  I love veal cutlets but I also love my wife.  Difference in degree.
   An unwelcomed welcome:   Look at the social custom Jesus speaks about when a person visits a home. There are certain criteria that must be followed.  The host is to provide water to wash the visitors feet.  Nothing elaborate but a cleaning of their feet is expected.  A kiss of greeting—usually on both sides of the face…with minimum of physical contact.  (You see this today on the news.)  After the visitor enters the home, oil is put on the head of the guest—a sign of blessing the visitor with peace. 
   None of this was given to Jesus.  I would guess, He just came in and sat down on the floor on pillows—reclining at the central table.  The host was not careful to observe the simplest of social graces.  The Pharisee had invited Jesus to his home but for some reason, did not entertain this social custom. 
   The woman who came in was a known ‘sinful woman’.  Her reputation was well known. You can imagine the whispers around the room as she slips in and starts to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears!  It was not just a few drops of tears; it was enough for her to wash His feet and then to dry them with her hair.  The smell from the jar of perfume filled the room.  The weeping soon became the only sound in the room.  Awkward!  And then she got even more personal, she started to kiss His feet as she dried them with her hair.
   The socially insensitive Host was—embarrassed, maybe.  He certainly was critical. –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.”
   He was judge and jury.  She was a sinner and she had no place in MY house!  And Jesus should have known better!
   But, Jesus heard what the man said to himself and said He had something to tell him.  The man was willing so Jesus told this parable.  Simply put, it was a matter of money owed and debts forgiven.  The master with the two men who could not pay back the money forgave them both.  Question for the host:  “Now which of them will love the master more?”  Easy answer given: “the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”  He was correct.
   Now, comes the lesson the host might not understand and if he did understand it, he would not like the answer.  This lady loves more than you love. She knows that she had been forgiven a LOT and you don’t realize how much you have done to obtain the same forgiveness.  As Jesus said: “Her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown” …but you failed to show even a little of love—no foot washing, kiss or oil—not that those acts were proof of his love, but his heart was just not there. 
   Then Jesus steps out of the parable and says outright to the woman: “Your sins are forgiven.”  Directly to her.  Not to the many in the room—just to her … because she had shown deep love for Jesus. 
   Are tears a sign of love?  Does asking for forgiveness require tears in repentance?  No, but it doesn’t hurt.  I am sorry can be said many ways.  (Laughing: “I am sorry”) Angry: “I am sorry”. Coldly: “I am sorry”.  Crying but fake: “I am sorry”.  The heart needs to be broken. 
   It is found Psalm 51, there is much to realize.  Let’s walk thru it together.  God’s Degree of Love: Found in His Mercy
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are right in Your verdict and justified when You judge.  5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet You desired faithfulness even in the womb; You taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your Salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, so that sinners will turn back to You. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, You who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare Your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise.
18 May it please You to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.