Archive for January, 2022

A Word to the Wise

1/30/2022 – On ancient women.

A typical attitude toward women in the time of Christ is best expressed by Ben Sirach. His writings are to be found in the Apocrypha most often found in Catholic bibles. Writing two hundred years before Jesus he notes “A man’s spite is preferable to a woman’s kindness; women give rise to shame and reproach. (Sir 42:14). This ancient attitude is not far amiss from the attitude of some men I have worked with.

My attitude about womanhood was formed by a very godly mother. I still remember other women coming to our home and my mother sitting up late into the night interpreting for them wise understanding of scripture and its influence on one’s response to various difficult situations. It seemed I would sit for hours in the hall listening to her teaching and instruction. This had a profound effect on me and my understanding about how woman think.

This perhaps is why the biblical interactions that Jesus has with women is intriguing. So, let’s together travel together back to the First Century.

Luke, the gospel writer, endeavors to reveal the side of Jesus that goes against every rule of his society which misplaces and demeans the role of women. The clash between Jesus and the ruling class is crystal clear in Luke 7.

By the second year of his ministry Jesus has drawn the ire of the Pharisees who dog his every step. They stay up late into the night dreaming of ways to humiliate Jesus.

Normally when a Rabbi is invited to dinner in this era it is a great affair. Certain customs are followed beginning with the invitation. The door is opened and immediately the visitor is greeted with a kiss. This ceremony is followed by offering water and olive oil to wash the hands and feet. The Babylonian Talmud addressing the customs of the time states that lacking this or until the washing takes place prayer for the food could not be offered.

It is immediately apparent to Jesus that he is being dishonored. Not only that, but there is also present in this home a well-known sinner! This woman was purposely invited in because she is known to be immoral. This woman is selected by Simon to test and humiliate Jesus.

Observe how Abraham in Gen. 18 behaves when visited by two strangers. That is the model followed all throughout the Middle East. Not so here.

So, Jesus sits down with no doubt a host of other pharisees present to observe the humiliation of this hated Rabbi. The air is thick with the tension brought about by the insults being offered Jesus.

However, Jesus says nothing. As mentioned earlier the woman is already in the house, she has discovered the coming of Jesus and prepared for the occasion. Her reputation preceded her, and special plans made to allow her to enter.

However, this woman observing the maltreatment being offered Jesus takes it upon herself to intercede and perform the expected greeting. Having neither water, towels, nor oil she uses the tools at her disposal. Her tears provide the water, her hair the towel.

Yes, her hair. A woman in this era never, ever let her hair down. Even her husband rarely if ever saw it down. Women were not to be seen in the presence of men, and never to be heard. Now she pours an amazingly costly perfume on the feet of Jesus. The aroma must have filled the house.

There is a particular perfume that I associate with this incident it is not the actual one being used just the one that I associate with this incident. It is call Shalimar.

Shalimar by Guerlain was designed in 1925 and is classified as a refined oriental fragrance. Sorry about the side trip but if you ever get a whiff of it you will understand.

What was the woman’s motive? It was not because she was seeking forgiveness! That makes no sense. Rather it was because she felt forgiveness already and the overwhelming joy brought about by it.

Further, no doubt this woman is dismayed by the shameful public way Jesus is being treated.

What is astounding about the whole situation is Jesus now only mildly corrects Simon and forgives him as well. The nameless woman? We do not know her name just her gratitude and sacrifice for this perfume was probably worth about $40,000.

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A Word to the Wise

1-20-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Pig dinner:

Matthew, and Luke 8, along with Mark 5 tells us about an episode in the life of Christ that is so important all three Gospel writers address it, I wonder why? Seems simple. Jesus meets a man with a few demons and takes care of the situation as usual.

I believe it is a little deeper than that perhaps if I added some things to the passage which may or may not be accurate it might help. First the storm.

This was no ordinary rainstorm. No at all. The Greek text uses words that include violent earthquake. This is a violent storm. Ever been in one? Years ago, let see that would be forty-seven years ago Mary and I lived in Moore, Oklahoma. Early one evening the rain clouds started gathering and then it got violent. A huge tornado was coming near. Dumb me stood outside and watched it. Right before it hit a green sheen covered the sky. One hundred yards off the tornado came rushing through. That is a violent storm.

So here in this passage we have a terrible violent storm and believe me the Lord did not send it. Satan did because he did not want Jesus heading to his country, Gerasa, a Roman protectorate.

Jesus lands on the shore and Satan has a reception party already for him. So, what we have so far is a violent storm warning Jesus to keep away, a violent human possessed by 20,000 demons. Imagine what one demon can do, this guy has 20,000 of them! Get out Jesus this is my land, my cemetery, my tombs, leave.

So, Jesus has a short conversation with the head demon who immediately begs for mercy. “Do not send us to hell, why not those poor pigs over there? Why did Jesus agree? Two thousand that would feed a lot of people. Here is the point.

Pigs do not eat grass! But they are eating. What do think they are eating? Remember this is a graveyard these pigs are digging up old bodies and bones!

But that is just the second aspect of what is going on. Why do you suppose the demons wanted in the pigs? Really it is very simple. The demons thought they would stampede them and run over Jesus and the disciples! Now, how does that influence the whole situation? The storm, the greeting by the evil one, the pigs, their breakfast, and murderous intent. I will never look at this passage he same, what about you?

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