Taking Offense

Journal Entry // March 17, 2022

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.”

Luke 7:39 ESV

This passage stings quite a bit when I work through the thoughts I had as I was reading this chapter. First, the centurion is praised for his great faith and Jesus healed his servant without being near to them. Second, Jesus had compassion on a grieving mother and brought her son back to life as the funeral procession moved through. Third, we see Jesus strengthen the faith of John the Baptist by having his followers report all that they have witnessed. So as I arrived at this passage, I was thinking about how easy it is for even the faithful to have doubts and lose their way. I was beginning to question my heart and wonder if my heart was like this. Is my heart questioning and doubting the words of Jesus? Do I find him offensive at times?

As I think this through I would eagerly reject this notion. Then I read this passage about the Pharisee who invites Jesus into his home to eat with his friends. The Pharisee obviously wanted to be close to Jesus and hear what he had to say. He was intrigued and possibly even desiring to grow in understanding. Did he witness Jesus raising the young man from the dead? Did he witness the healing of the servant from a distance? Did he see the compassion of Jesus displayed before him upon the lives of the people? Why then does his heart move him to make this statement. Why is he so quick to be offended not only at this woman who was indeed a sinner, but by the compassion and mercy of Jesus toward her?

Why indeed. For this is the impulse off my heart as well. I want to be with Jesus and feast with him in front of my friends and the influential. I want to make a show of how close I am to Jesus and the honor he bestows upon me by making a show of his willingness to come into my house and recline at table. I want to have my friends and the people I admire pat me on the back and tell me how impressed they are by my spiritual stature. I want to just use Jesus at times to stoke the fire of my pride and self-righteousness.

How do I know this is happening? It’s pretty simple I think. When the compassion of Christ ignites indignation and condemnation within me. This woman was indeed a sinner. She would freely admit that. She was a great sinner that was deeply moved by forgiveness. Deeply moved to show her love and gratitude toward Jesus, which Jesus not only allowed but encouraged. Yet, like the Pharisee, how often do I forget about compassion and forgiveness. How often do I celebrate with those who have been forgiven much? How often am I offended by a person who is compassionate? I see them as weak of faith. They who would allow this sinner to come to the feet of Jesus and even touch him with their sin stained hands.

I forget that this is me. I forget that this woman is responding the exact way I should to Jesus. I want to recline at table and enjoy the feast set before me and just be with Jesus, when I should be moved by emotion and passion to wipe the feet of Jesus with my tears and anoint his feet with ointment. I should be moved to humble, compassionate, thankfulness. I don’t deserve to recline at table with Jesus… I am a sinner. I am a great sinner. No, my place is here at his feet as I enjoy being in his presence and am moved by my emotions to give all that I am to him.

The Pharisee is clearly me most of the time. I want this scene to stir my heart. To cause uneasiness in my mind. When I see the humble worship of fellow sinners, I want to join in with them. I want to be compassionate and patient and understanding with my fellow believers. There is so much to learn from each other about faith and how we approach and love Jesus in our lives. I want to move away from being offended and thinking the worst about their actions and into a place where I am compassionate. Where I take a step back and see the grace and mercy of Christ being displayed and lived out in the lives around me. I want to let scenes like this move my heart to emotion. To bring me to tears. To let those tears fall on the feet of Christ as I worship him in humbleness.

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