Monday, May 6, 2013

Jesus Ate with Dirty Hands

Jesus's disciples ate with dirty hands.  We are told in Mark 7:5, "Some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, 'Why don't your disciples live according to the traditions of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?'"  In a culture that was heavy on purity, hospitality, and following the rules, chances are good if the disciples ate with unclean hands, so did Jesus.

Jesus ate with dirty feet.  Luke 7:36-47 reads:
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus ate with sinners.  Jesus ate with tax collectors.  Jesus ate with garden variety whores.  Jesus ate with prostitutes.  Jesus ate with adulterers.

Jesus preached a gospel of radical love; a gospel in which all are welcome; a gospel that declares that we come before a throne of GRACE and all of us are on equal footing there; a gospel that declares that none of us must make ourselves "clean enough" before we enter HIS presence; before we eat at HIS table.  As though any of us could, by an ablution or any other means, somehow make ourselves pure enough, good enough, holy enough to join Christ in HIS banquet.

Jesus never turned anyone away.  Jesus never cast anyone out.  Jesus never set out armed guards and barred the doors to the sacrament of God's love and grace and compassion.

Jesus intentionally spent his time, not with the religious elite, the holy men, those who most stringently observed the purity rites of their religion.  Jesus intentionally spent his time with fishermen and Samaritans, women and children, prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners, and sluts.

When a church invites sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, pedophiles, and all manner of other people with dirty hands and feet to join them at CHRIST'S banquet table, but they use armed police men to bar entrance and fellowship to homosexuals who must "wash their hands" before entering CHRIST'S church and sharing in fellowship at CHRIST'S table, something is grossly wrong.  God's love has been distorted beyond all rationality.

Jesus ate with dirty feet and dirty hands.  Why would he expect anything different from us?

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