Follow Me... So, What Do You See?

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Follow Me... So, What Do You See?

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When one fully desires to follow Jesus Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me,” it’s crucial to continue growing spiritually in viewing people as He does.

I’m speaking about more than keeping our physical eyes open. We must make sure that the lens of our heart remains wide open to continually capture the essence of what Christ sees in people.

It’s very human to make snap judgments about others at a single glance and pigeonhole people into obscurity. It is equally human to judge people based on their external activities that can appear so outwardly correct rather than appreciate what is going on deep down inside them.

Christ understood how important it is for us to continually confront this human reality and thus long ago accepted an invitation to a dinner in Capernaum to help us learn how to view others through His eyes and take a good look at ourselves at the same time.

Dinner with Jesus interrupted

We enter with Christ into a dinner setting prepared for Him by Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36 Luke 7:36And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
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). Jesus had recently been on the move through parts of Samaria and Galilee, His teachings, miracles and reputation preceding Him—including His raising of the dead in the nearby village of Nain (Luke 7:11-17 Luke 7:11-17 11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bore him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say to you, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God has visited his people. 17 And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
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).

It had also been reported that He enjoyed feasting with sinners and tax collectors (Luke 7:33-34 Luke 7:33-34 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say, He has a devil. 34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners!
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). These contrasting stories were both a marvel and a puzzling conundrum to many. Jesus of Nazareth did not seem to be your run-of-the-mill rabbi. Thus Simon extended this invitation to get a clearer picture.

It was customary to invite such a rabbi into one’s home to allow him to share more of his teaching, and often those outside would come right through the door. Simon’s initial motives for welcoming Christ into his home are not exactly known, but his recorded lack of hospitality in this case offers evidence of possible disdain toward his invited guest.

Simon, Jesus and the rest of the dinner party were most likely eating and conversing in the manner of that day—reclining on their sides on couches placed around a table in a horseshoe formation.

Suddenly, all eyes turn elsewhere. The gravity of attention shifts from the center of the room to a surprise guest at the edge of the enclosure. People are astonished.

Luke vividly introduces her his way: “And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner …” (Luke 7:37 Luke 7:37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
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). The New Living Translation refers to her as an “immoral woman.”

Little is left to the imagination. Who does she think she is, inviting herself into such fine social circles? But here she is because of one thing: She knew Jesus would be here, and that’s where she needed to be—no matter what!

A shocking act

But now everyone’s eyes tighten their focus, for something is happening. What is she doing? She carries an alabaster flask of fragrant oil. Next she kneels down at the Rabbi’s feet and begins to cry, her moist tears falling onto His feet.

Then she does the unthinkable for a grown Jewish woman. She unloosens her long hair and tenderly dries His feet with this living towel. She then kisses those same feet she has lovingly washed.

You talk about being in the moment! As today’s expression so aptly depicts, she was “up close and personal.”

Next, she takes more of the refreshing and soothing oil and rubs it into His feet (Luke 7:37-38 Luke 7:37-38 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
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). This woman offered up every fiber of her being, and it was as if nothing would come between her and the One she served.

She didn’t care who was there or who knew. It’s as if nothing else in the world mattered or existed. There was this incredible connection for all to behold if they had spiritual eyes to see. She was pouring out herself in sacrificial gratitude to the One she served.

Yet Simon the Pharisee was appalled. How could this untouchable individual even be in his house and do such a thing while good people looked on?

Surely this answered the question as to whether Jesus was a man of God. For, he thought, no true prophet of God would ever let a sinner touch Him (Luke 7:39 Luke 7:39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spoke within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touches him: for she is a sinner.
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).

Such a conclusion comported with his membership in the sect of the Pharisees, this name denoting those who were “separate” from anything deemed ungodly.

“Simon, I have something to say to you”

It is then that Jesus zoomed in to his host by name: “Simon, I have something to say to you” (Luke 7:40 Luke 7:40And Jesus answering said to him, Simon, I have somewhat to say to you. And he said, Master, say on.
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). Imagine those eyes and voice talking directly to you!

He went on to share a tale of two men who were both in debt but at different levels, with both equally unable to pay what they owed, yet the lender forgave their debts. Jesus concluded by asking which one would love the lender more (Luke 7:41-42 Luke 7:41-42 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
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).

Simon sensibly answered, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” Jesus responded in effect, “You got it!” (see Luke 7:43 Luke 7:43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said to him, You have rightly judged.
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). The point to Simon was: Think—is it any wonder this woman has displayed such deep appreciation towards Me?

And Simon was still not off the hook yet. Jesus then boldly inquired of him, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44 Luke 7:44And he turned to the woman, and said to Simon, See you this woman? I entered into your house, you gave me no water for my feet: but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
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).

That is: Take a good look! Open your eyes! Open your blinded heart! She did what you didn’t do at all, because of your self-righteous doubts about Me. She did everything that was yours to do as host, but your doubts and fears held you back. I was your guest. You didn’t even begin to receive Me, as was your role, with a welcoming kiss of peace, with water for washing My feet after a long day on dusty roads or with a refreshing touch of soothing oil (Luke 7:44-46 Luke 7:44-46 44 And he turned to the woman, and said to Simon, See you this woman? I entered into your house, you gave me no water for my feet: but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 You gave me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil you did not anoint: but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment.
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). This woman lavished these upon Me with deep humility and gratitude.

The contrasting indictment was staggering. Jesus concluded His lesson to Simon with this statement: “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven [that’s you, Simon, and those like you], the same loves little” (Luke 7:47 Luke 7:47Why I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.
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).

He then focused His gaze on the woman and said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48 Luke 7:48And he said to her, Your sins are forgiven.
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).

It startled those in the room, and they spoke among themselves, asking, “Who is this who even forgives sin?” (Luke 7:49 Luke 7:49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgives sins also?
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). There was only one possible answer to accept or reject—Jesus was God in the flesh. He was the prophesied Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (see Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah 7:14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
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; Matthew 1:23 Matthew 1:23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
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). He once again would focus His gaze on the woman and assure her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:50 Luke 7:50And he said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
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).

Our eyes have experienced a target-rich environment to consider where to place our focus in this moving account. Where have your eyes settled?

Let’s consider the field of vision offered by this story: Christ entering the door of Simon’s home; Christ enjoying Himself with the give-and-take of conversation at the banquet table; the woman drying Christ’s feet with her hair; the frown of disbelief on Simon’s face; the smile on the woman’s face when she is told, “Your sins are forgiven!”

We need to take a good look inwardly

I would suggest that where our eyes need to come to rest is squarely on ourselves, the power in this story being to help us recognize our lack of sufficiency apart from the ongoing redeeming and restorative work of God the Father through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
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states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” It’s all the more tragic when this applies to those who think they are truly yielded to God in understanding and following His ways but are not.

There’s something in human nature and even in sincere religious people like Simon the Pharisee that doesn’t fully grasp what the apostle Paul so aptly stated: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18 Romans 7:18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
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).

Regrettably, by our thoughts, words and deeds we can send out a loud and clear message to God and others that, in the inner workings of our hearts, we view it as though God sent His Son to die for everyone but us. By our lack of humility like Simon the Pharisee, we are stating, “I’m not in need!”

But oh yes, we are! The reality of Christianity is that God sent His Son here to earth not to simply make good men better, but to allow “dead men walking” to be able to live for the very first time.

The “woman … who was a sinner” knew exactly what she was and that she was nothing but dead apart from what Christ had to offer. That’s why she was expressing love and gratitude the best she knew how. Conversely, Simon’s prideful heart was dead on arrival.

Learn the lesson from this story. We need to always remember where God first found us and allowed us to experience Him, up close and personal, just like the woman in this story.

Christ came to seek and save the lost

This powerful lesson was not lost on the Gospel writer, Luke, when he wrote what he had heard about this encounter at Capernaum. He elsewhere, by the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, recorded Jesus’ parables about God’s desire to recover the lost (see Luke 15).

And in Luke 19:10 Luke 19:10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
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he quoted this statement of Jesus for all of us to rest our eyes on and keep them there for our spiritual well-being: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” That was us! We were rescued from ourselves and given worth in Him.

Indeed, Luke’s Gospel account contains much about gentiles, women, lepers and others who had been marginalized by those who already thought they were doing just fine before God because of who they were and what they outwardly performed.

Of course, all of us should see ourselves as needing restoration with God—and we should seek to restore others.

Christ walked into that door in Capernaum long ago to teach us a vital lesson in how to respond to those who walk into our lives today. Simply put, like the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” He showed us by example that we should not judge people by where they have come from, but where they are choosing to go in following the call of our Heavenly Father.

We should conclude with three simple questions:

1. Are others’ opinions and their ever-staring eyes and frozen hearts keeping us from serving Christ with our personal bests?

2. Whose thoughts—including our own—create distance between us and our Master when He desires us to come as close as possible in thought, motive and deed to experience Him fully and completely?

3. In the days ahead, whose pair of eyes will you be utilizing as people come into your sphere of interaction—Simon the Pharisee’s or Jesus Christ’s? Be assured, the lesson is headed your way!