They Needed Jesus

"The woman with the ointment who wept at His feet, needed to be around Jesus. She would not contaminate Him, but He would cleanse her."

JESUS BEGAN HIS MINISTRY by calling fishermen to follow Him. These men from Galilee, we learn in Acts, were not known for their education and apparently had an accent. Peter’s story tells us this. There was also a Zealot, a tax collector, and a cloud of women who trailed along. Not exactly Levites. The odd story about Levites, the priestly tribe, is that their origin, way-way-back, was violence. They forgot that part, being dedicated to the temple and all. (Not that there weren’t good Levites, because there were.) But where the Levites and scribes and other religious men were well-dressed and pious, going back for generations, Jesus’ disciples were common folk.

Then there’s John the Baptizer. Here’s this guy preaching repentance, not in the temple where God’s presence was supposed to be, but in the river Jordan, out past plum-nearly, and he’s dressed like a weirdo. Unafraid to call out those same pious religious leaders, and pointedly, I might add, the presence of God on him convinced the people he was from God and terrified the temple-group. They dare not speak against him, fearing a riot. And it’s to him, Jesus goes to be baptized. Pick the strange guy, why don’t ya?

Except, we see this pattern repeated again and again. Jesus did preach in the temple, but the thousands were on the hillsides, in secular towns like Capernaum, and smack-dab in the middle of Samaria. No one Jewish went there. He heals the heart of a Samaritan woman who’d been married five times and was living with number six. He forgives a woman caught with a man, not her husband. He raises a lame man on the Sabbath, who’d been in that location for 38 years. Was He merely making a scene?

This is what people sometimes think. But take the story of the woman who wept at His feet and dried them with her hair. Jesus is in the house of a Pharisee, when she comes in and pours ointment on His feet. The Pharisee bristled, thinking inwardly, “If He knew who she was … She’s a sinner.” Jesus then gives him an answer in a parable. Who will love a creditor most? He asks. The Pharisee replies, The one who he’s forgiven the most debt.

Yes, and this woman has been forgiven much.

We see things from the wrong point-of-view. Simon, the Pharisee, saw her as a sinner. The Samaritan woman saw Jesus as a Jew. The woman caught in adultery, to the religious men who tossed her at Jesus’ feet, should be stoned. And a table of tax collectors and other known sinners was not where Jesus should be eating a meal.

“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34)

There’s no pleasing people. They condemn others for thousands of reasons. We, in the church, condemn people for thousands of reasons. That they aren’t saved is the biggest. Whereas our point-of-view needs to be like Jesus’. The Pharisees were angry that He’d be around sinners, but instead, it is that sinners should be around Him.

He came to save us from our sins. He was sinless in word, thought, and action. He laid down His life as the sacrificial Lamb. He did not die because of His sin but because of ours, and His blood cleanses anyone who calls on Him.

The woman with the ointment, who wept at His feet, needed to be around Jesus. She would not contaminate Him, but He would cleanse her. That person who you passed, lost in His lifestyle, caught up in all the senseless ways the world celebrates or numbs pain, needs Jesus. Our point-of-view is not that he will make the church look bad or make us less important, he’s not a wrinkle in a perfectly ironed system, but it is that Jesus in us becomes Jesus in him.

We need to meet people where they are, love people in whatever state they’re in, and let the Spirit of God reach out to them through us. The commission is to GO YE INTO THE WORLD not to COME YE INTO THE CHURCH. Do people need to be in church? Yes, but salvation for the woman caught in adultery was on a city street. For Zaccheus it was while perched in a tree, trying to see Jesus walk by. For Peter, it was on his face weeping because he’d just denied his Master three times.

To reach people, we need to be among people, and FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He will guide us into what to say or what not to say. Sometimes, our speaking is the wrong thing to do, and other times, it isn’t. He knows when and where and what is needed for who. We are told this about the spiritual gifts. They are given “as He wills” because their use is based upon many little things that He is sensitive to and understands like we don’t.

Sometimes, we want to drive a bulldozer, shake that mountain like an earthquake, and have people drop into the pew like fleas, when what He needs us to do is whisper and simply spread His presence so that the peace in us would be felt by them.

“Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.” (Romans 12:7 MSG)

We are told to come boldly before the throne because God likes us. Jesus lived on earth. HE IS HUMAN and so understands humanness. The Holy Spirit invented people, as I always put it. He knows how we think, and the Father delights in His children. There are godly behaviors that we mature in, after salvation, and there are ungodly behaviors that we refuse to have anything to do with. And the fear of God is a HUGE THING. But so is joy and laughter and I’ve got news for you, God – Father, Son, and Spirit – likes us to be ourself, with all our quirks and eccentricities.

Yes, they can “fix” what is broken in us, but sometimes, it isn’t that we’re broken but that we don’t know we’re loved. Jesus loved cousin John, and outspoken Peter, and Pharisee Nicodemus. He loved the Roman centurion who asked for the healing of his servant as much as the one that hung Him on the cross, men who never entered the Jewish Temple, but were changed by Him just the same.

Think not, that woman is so messed up, that kid needs to see a shrink, “I have this coworker who’s into all kinds of bad things,” but think who they’d be if they saw Jesus, then be Jesus and love them anyway.

“For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:56)

ADDITIONAL READING: Romans 14, The Message Bible

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

Suzanne D. Williams, Author