Happy Monday friends!
We're excited for y'all as you start off your summer vacation, and are praying that it's restful, fun, and one that grows you as men and women who walk intimately with Christ. In light of that, Upstate Cru is sending out a weekly email during the summer, to encourage you in your walk with Christ.
This week comes from a friend who works with Cru down in Florida, named Ben Rivera:
Luke 7:36-39 records an event that describes one example of what devotion to Christ looks like:
“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
During the time of Christ, it was customary for a visiting Rabbi, as well as other guests, who came for a meal that you would first greet them with a kiss. A kiss on the cheek meant that you were honoring them and showing that they had social ranking. To not give someone a kiss was like ignoring them in front of everyone in attendance. Today it would be like not shaking someone’s hand or greeting them, as though they were not even there.
Part of the custom in the Middle East was the washing of feet before a meal. You would wash the feet of your guests if you really honored them or at least give them water so they could wash their own feet. If someone were an extra special guest, you would think about anointing their head with olive oil.
This was not the case with Simon the Pharisee. Simon should have known these customs as he spent his life studying the law and religious customs. But he did not honor Jesus. Now enter an uninvited woman of the city, a prostitute. They were likely eating in a courtyard setting. We see this “woman of the city” awkwardly come up to see Jesus. In the book, “Not A Fan”, Kyle Idleman describes the moment this way,
“…when she looks at Jesus, he seems to know what has happened in her heart. He gives her a warm smile. He seems delighted she has come and he looks at her with the eyes of a loving father watching his beautiful daughter as she enters the room…She falls to the ground and begins to kiss his feet. Soon, the tears are just pouring down her face. They begin to drip onto the dirty feet of Jesus…She can’t ask for a towel so she lets her hair down.”
She pours out her flask of ointment on the head of Jesus, which shows her honor for Christ, which not one of them at the meal bothered to do. Jesus has just transformed her past life. Look at what Luke 4:47-50 says as Jesus talks to Simon the Pharisee:
“ Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This is a story of illustrating what true intimacy with Jesus might look like. No doubt the guests who were at the meal were snickering when this prostitute began to interact with Jesus. But it did not matter to her, she understood that there was something different about Jesus.
Do we look to the Word of God on a regular basis and ask God to continue to transform our lives?
Do we pray and tell God our every care and most intimate secrets? (yes, He already sees them).
Do we do things out of religious duty or because of our heartfelt love for Jesus?
Do we have the same outward heart for Jesus that the woman illustrated, despite what others might think?
This summer, keep your hearts focused on the main thing – Jesus. Follow the truths in His Word as the roadmap for our lives. Spend time regularly with Jesus now and especially throughout the summer.
**If you'd like to read more of Ben's writing, check out his website at http://www.benrivera.org. Have a great week treasuring and displaying Christ!
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