I don’t really think it was child abuse. What? Oh. Well, in Sunday School this morning I was teaching the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears in Luke 7:36-50. In those days people walked everywhere. Even the wealthiest of Pharisees would have to walk and likely only the Roman rulers and ultra-rich were able to ride anywhere. Walking in sandals on dirt roads was the primary mode of transportation then. When you are traveling with twelve guys this can get to be a dusty or muddy affair so if someone invited you to their house for dinner they had a custom of showing their welcome by having you sit down when you came in and washing your feet and pouring oil on your head which, with their hair and the primitive times was good. These are ancient customs, like the way they greet each other with a kiss. So, what I did to demonstrate the lesson is I took off my cowboy boots and socks and sat down on a chair in front of them.
Now certain in my audience at this point are saying, “ewww, how could you do that to those little children?” Well, it got their attention. And while some of them did have watery eyes and had to ask the other teacher for a tissue, and one kid did say I was violating his personal space, I had their attention. What? Well, of course I took a shower and changed my socks for such a special occasion. What do you think I am, a complete barbarian? I have several couths about me at any given time. I’m sure it was just melodramatics on their part. I told them about the custom of washing the feet and anointing the head with oil. I didn’t actually pour olive oil over my head or anything, though. I guess I could have. They prepared a sweet-smelling olive oil mixture and so I say it seems likely that they may have, among other things, used it in their hair since the road was dusty and they have a very dry, coarse hair.
As I put my socks and boots back on I told the story of how this woman, whom even Jesus said had “many sins” (I didn’t explain in detail what many commentators believe that nature of her sins was.) was repentant and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and used her long hair (even the most vile sinner woman did not ever cut her hair) as a towel to dry them. She had a precious ointment, not common olive oil, which she kept in an alabaster box and was possibly worth as much as 3 years wages. This she anointed the master’s feet with. I got to the place where the woman kissed Jesus’ feet and they really freaked out. They couldn’t comprehend someone doing such a thing. “gross.” “Dat nathty.”
The smug, self-righteous Pharisee, Simon, who had invited Jesus to dinner at his house and the other Pharisees present, said to himself that he couldn’t be much of a prophet or he wouldn’t let this sort of woman anywhere near him. And what a waste of money! Jesus asked him, “A creditor had two people that owed him, one 50 one 500 and neither one could pay, so he forgave them both. Now, which one will love him more?”
“The one that was forgiven the most.”
“Right. Very good. When I came in you didn’t give me any water for my feet or a kiss or anointing oil or anything, but this woman, whose sins are many, washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair and anointed my feet with ointment and hasn’t ceased from kissing them. She loved much and her many sins are forgiven. Who is forgiven little, loveth little.”
Then he made them all even more indignant and said to the woman, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.”
“Nobody can forgive sins but God!”
“Thy faith hath saved thee.”
By adding the second line he confused them because they didn’t WANT to understand what it was all about and what was going on.
It is another interesting exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus. If you read the Gospels for yourself you will see a different picture of Jesus emerge than the namby-pamby one that is usually painted by homosexual renaissance artists. Jesus and his followers were manly men who did extraordinary things that rocked the status quo. Even if you count yourself as an unbeliever or agnostic or backslider, if you will read these stories you will see, if not God manifest in flesh, at the least a man that did what he believed in and stood up as a man.
I know that Jesus was the One and Only God come to visit his creation and save them. He was the invisible God in a physical body and lived as a man. He was both 100% man and 100% God at any given moment. As a man he was tempted and tired and sleepy; as God he healed the impossibly sick and raised the dead from the grave. He chose to come in a humble manner so as to confound the self-righteous and self-wise but to save the sinners that were repentant and wanted to do what was right. He then gave his disciples the power to do the same things he had done and go as apostles, or messengers, into all the world. These things, and the actions of manly men and brave women are written in the book of The Acts of the Apostles. When our church refers to itself as “Apostolic” it refers to a desire to emulate the first believers who were saved on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which is where the name “Pentecostal” comes from.
I have to go, but remember, The Good Book says that on the day of Pentecost after Peter preached to them and they felt repentant and wanted to acknowledge their sins and do what was right: “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.'”