Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Not what we expect

Why is God so often not what we expect? He is so elusive, so unwilling to be neatly wrapped and tied into our smug understanding.
Take Simon's experience for instance. Simon was, I expect, a curious fellow. He had heard about Jesus, who was healing people and performing miracles. Not entirely respectable, mind you - rumor had it this Jesus was spending time with tax collectors and other, ahem, sinners. He was travelling about doing - well, other than the miracles, who knew what? Was he a prophet? A fake? A magician? An attention-seeker? Anyway, it would be good to be on the safe side - he might be a prophet after all. Weren't all of Israel's prophets a little eccentric?
Simon was no dimbulb. He was going to find out about Jesus. He was going to solve the riddle. First, he'd invite Jesus to dinner.
Jesus came to Simon's house. Simon was determined not to give him any honor until he had proven himself worthy. Simon was, after all, respected in his town, and a Pharisee. He didn't welcome his guest with any undue warmth. He didn't even have Jesus' feet washed, a customary gesture showing welcome and willing service.
But a woman in that place heard where Jesus was, and she came to Simon's house. She brought an alabaster box full of precious ointment. She didn't hesitate to welcome him. She wept, washing his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. Then she broke the alabaster and poured the ointment over Jesus' feet.
Simon thought he had caught a fraud. He was almost embarrassed for Jesus.
Surely if Jesus were a prophet, he would know that this woman was an unsavoury character - she had a reputation throughout the town. Surely, if he knew her sin, he would never let her touch his feet!
"Simon, I have something to tell you," Jesus said. He had seen his host's heart as well as the woman's. "Two men 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 canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"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--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Simon had been trying to judge Jesus by his own sense of right and wrong. But his sense was too dull; too narrow.
So it is with us. We think, "if God is who is says he is, then he will..." We should examine our intelligence, our understanding of such things. If we want to judge God, then we must be sure that the criteria we have established are valid.
God is apt to surprise us, just when we think we've got him figured out.

1 comment:

joeyanne said...

With political religion invading so much - bringing such a false view of God today, it's no wonder we have such a difficult time "finding Him." First we have to unlearn what we already think about God. Then we can be free to learn who He truly is.