When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. Luke 7:36
Early in Chapter 7 of Luke, as Jesus continued performing unprecedented miracles, crowds began to identify him as a prophet. These reports prompted John the Baptist to send his disciples to Jesus who declared:
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Vs 22 & 23)
Jesus went on to identify John the Baptist as a prophet and this was said:
“…the Pharisees and the experts in religious law have rejected God’s purpose for themselves because they have not been baptized by John (a sign of repentance from sin).” (V 30)
From these two statements, tension escalated between Jesus and the Pharisees.
So why did Jesus later accept a dinner invitation by Simon the Pharisee? Most of us would avoid such an event with its potential to stir up an awkward or explosive episode. Did Jesus make the previous declarations hoping for a more intimate conversation with the Pharisees? Jesus often made it clear his priority was seeking broken (sinful) people and restoring them to himself. Did broken people include Pharisees?
Because the word Pharisee means ‘to separate’, Simon was experienced at respecting the spiritual rank of his guests. At this gathering, he would be expected to greet guests differently and designate space for uninvited onlookers.
When Jesus failed to repel the impure woman who lovingly kissed and anointed his feet with perfume, Simon’s concern for spiritual purity caused him to silently recoil. Simon’s reaction presented Jesus with a situation where he could tell a parable and bring home his earlier words:
Blessed is the one who is not offended by me. …if you don’t understand that a little bit broken is altogether broken and turn to me, you have rejected God’s purpose for yourselves.
Loving and appreciating Jesus is a primary expectation in God’s family. If I am close to Jesus, I won’t be offended by his actions nor will I reject broken people who respond to his restorative power so intensely.
Jesus accepted Simon’s invitation to dinner because it was an opportunity to communicate HIS invitation to restoration…even to Pharisees. His offer of eternal life is not only to outcasts, but to those who seem most spiritually composed. Look for an opportunity to speak the love of Jesus into someone’s life this week.
By Kathleen Petersen