And 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.…
Then one of the Pharisees desired that Jesus would eat bread with them; and as the crowd falls back they go on their way together to this Pharisee's house. And now He lies reclining on the couch. LET US TURN TO LOOK AT THE HOST. He has given Christ a very heartless welcome, and a very scanty entertainment. The commonest courtesies of life were wanting. There was no hint of enthusiasm, no whisper of affection; no token of any loving regard. Not even was it a stately formality — all was as empty as it was cold. Yet do not put down this man as a hypocrite or a knave. Not at all. We overdo the character of the Pharisee, and so we destroy it altogether. This man is just a fair type of a great many religious people to-day — people who are quite willing to extend a kind of patronage to the claims of Jesus Christ, but who never put themselves much out of the way for Him. They give their heart and energy to their business — for that no care, no toil, nothing is grudged. They give their enthusiasm to politics, if they live in the city; if they live in the country they share it with their horses and guns. They keep their money for themselves. For religion they are willing to expend an occasional hour on Sunday, and a .vet more occasional subscription. Alas! that our Blessed Redeemer, the King of Heaven, should find still so cold a welcome and so scanty an entertainment in many a house to-day! With such people there may be a degree of orthodoxy on which they pride them. selves, but what is much more rigid and essential is a certain refinement of taste, which is really the only religion of many; there is, too, a certain standard of morality, less important, however, than the standard of taste; and for everybody who does not come up to their standard either of manners or morals, there is a stoning to death with hard judgments — and an equal condemnation for those who venture to go beyond their standard. Look at it. It is religion without any love to God and without any love to man. It is religion without any deep sense of indebtedness, and without any glad devotion. There it is: religion without any deep sense of sin, and so without any glad sense of forgiveness; religion without any need, and so without riches; religion without a Saviour, and so without any love. This man knew of a law which demanded a certain degree of goodness: that was exactly the goodness which he himself lived up to. And good people like himself, of course, should go to heaven for ever and ever. And bad people like this woman should go — elsewhere; and he went on his way quite comfortable and contented with an arrangement altogether so advantageous to himself. Look at this man carefully; and see in him a peril that besets all of us who are brought up in religious forms and observances. It is religion without the Holy Spirit of God, who is come to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come; to make these the great and awful realities, by which the world is tested and all things are esteemed, for without that Holy Spirit who is come to shed the love of God abroad in the heart, God is but a name; religion is but a form; sin is but a notion. Now LET US TURN TO THE UNINVITED VISITOR, The Eastern custom of hospitality meant very literally "open house." The curiosity with which the people followed Jesus everywhere would be sure to follow Him here, and though He has entered into the house He cannot be hid. And yet of all heresies the most persistent and most deadly is that of which the Church makes but little ado. It is this — that Jesus Christ is come into the world to save good people who don't think they need any saving; and if real sinners come to Him — dreadful sinners: black sinners — it is a presumption and an intrusion which good people cannot tolerate. SEE HERE THE RIGHT CHARACTER, IN THE RIGHT PLACE, SEEKING THE RIGHT THING, IN THE RIGHT WAY. A sinner at the feet of Jesus — here is a sight that all heaven shall come forth to rejoice over; and they shall go back to celebrate it in the sweetest music that even angels ever sang. "She is a sinner" — it is the only certificate of character that Jesus wanted. The only thing for which He came, the only work for which He had qualified Himself, had to do with sinners. "She is ignorant," said Simon, within himself. "The people that knoweth not the law is accursed. What does this wretched woman understand of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven? What appreciation can she have of its lofty promises and high glory?" She knew that she was a sinner and in that she knew more than Simon knew; and knew all that she needed to know. A sinner at His feet. Oh, blessed hiding-place! A refuge sure and safe, in His shadow, within reach of that Hand, there, where all the heart may pour forth its sorrow and the story of its sin, where all His love may look its benediction, and may touch with healing power. Coming in the right way. She just cast herself upon His love and help. Having no hope but in Him, feeling that the torrents swept and surged about her, but that Hand held her and was lifting her up, and should set her feet upon the rock. She came unto Him and found the rest that she sought. The hold of the past was loosed and broken; its record was blotted out and forgotten. The touch of that gracious Hand healed the broken heart. His words fell like the very music of heaven upon her soul. "Thy sins are forgiven thee." And there came a new life, fresh, sweet, pure, beautiful, like the life of a little child. This is Jesus, our Saviour, who speaks to us this day. "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.'" But the story is not finished yet. There with the sobbing woman down at His feet, with that graciousHand laid on the bent head — that Hand whose touch healed the broken heart — Jesus became her Advocate and Defender. The silence was broken as Jesus looked up and said, "Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee." With what rich blessing must every word have fallen upon her — what gentle courtesy and tender grace was His!
(M. G. Pearse.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And 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.