A Tale of Four Houses: When the Worship of A Sinner Shows Up Uninvited To Religion’s House

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty-six through fifty of the seventh chapter. WHEN SINS ARE FORGIVEN IN THE HOUSE OF RELIGION! WHEN SINS ARE FORGIVEN IN RELIGIONS HOUSE! WHEN SINS ARE FORGIVEN IN A RELIGIOUS HOUSE! When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find an incredibly peculiar event which took place within the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. What marks that which takes place within this passage of scripture as so profound and powerful is the fact that it essentially presents the reader with multiple realities which collide within the presence of Jesus. As you read this passage of scripture you will find that in the presence of Jesus there is the presence of religion, legalism, and perhaps even hypocrisy. What’s more is that in the same context as we find religion and legalism, we also encounter pure love and worship of one. This passage is quite remarkable and astounding when you take the time to look at and examine it, for within the chapter, as well as in the presence of Jesus we find the collision of the pure worship of one whose love propelled and compelled her to enter into the presence of Jesus, as well as the religion and legalism of another. What I find to be so intriguing about this chapter is that such realities can be manifested within the presence of Jesus at the same exact time. There is within this passage a dichotomy and juxtaposition of religion and worship—both of which manifested themselves at the same time within the presence of Jesus. What’s more, is that within this passage is also what is perhaps one of the greatest manifestations of religion—not only in the presence of Jesus, but also in His presence—for within this passage we find religion manifesting itself in the form of judgment and criticism toward one who committed themselves to a bold and passionate display of worship in the presence of Jesus. Within this chapter we find a truly astounding picture of many churches today when Jesus is invited in the house for fellowship, and yet how worship can in fact invade and overwhelm the agendas of man.

WHEN WORSHIP INVADES THE AGENDAS OF MAN! If there is one thing I absolutely love about this particular passage of scripture it’s the fact that while what seemed to be the main character of the story was in fact able to bring Jesus into their home—the main character of the story was not even the one with whom the story began. As you read this passage of scripture you will find that it begins with a certain Pharisee inviting Jesus into His home to sit down to meat with him. This particular passage begins and opens up with one of the Pharisees—one of those who committed themselves to a lifestyle of obedience to both the law of God, as well as the traditions of man—desiring that and inviting Jesus Christ to enter into his home. The events which unfold within this passage of scripture are put in motion—not by this woman’s desire to position herself in the presence of Jesus to worship Him, but because a Pharisee our of all people desired that Jesus would enter into his home and dine with him. What an absolutely incredibly reality it is to think about and consider the fact that a Pharisee was the one who would dare invite Jesus into his home. If you read the various New Testament gospels you will find that the Pharisees typically vehemently opposed Jesus the Christ, and in many cases sought to condemn, criticize and even destroy Him. It is actually quite interesting and intriguing to read this passage of scripture and find one of the Pharisees who not only desired an audience with Jesus, but also desired that Jesus would enter into His home. This concept of Jesus entering into the home of one is found in different occasions within the four gospel accounts which were written concerning His life and ministry. As you read the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that there were specific individuals whom Jesus desired to dine with them and enter into their homes. In fact, I would dare say that in order to truly and properly understand that which is found within this passage of scripture it is necessary to consider some of the accounts when Jesus entered into the homes of certain individuals in order that He might dine and sit down to meat with them. There is something truly wonderful and spectacular about a Jesus who is not merely willing to enter into the temple or synagogues to teach the people, but also a Jesus who is willing to enter into our homes in order that He might sit down to meat with us.

I have to admit that I absolutely love what’s written and recorded within this passage, for within this passage we find a Jesus who is not only willing to enter into the home of religion, but a Jesus who is willing to sit down to meat and fellowship. WHEN JESUS SITS DOWN TO FELLOWSHIP WITH RELIGION! WHEN JESUS AND RELIGION SIT DOWN TO MEAT WITH EACH OTHER! WHEN JESUS SITS DOWN TO SUP WITH RELIGION WHEN JESUS MAKES AN APPEARANCE IN THE HOUSE OF RELIGION! This particular passage is absolutely remarkable and incredible, for within this passage we find a Jesus who is not only willing to entertain religion, but we also find Jesus being willing to enter into the home and sit down in fellowship with religion. I am utterly and completely fascinated with and by this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find one of the Pharisees who we later learn to have the name Simon inviting Jesus into his home in order that they might sit down to meat and share a meal. I would dare say and suggest that there was absolutely no reluctance of hesitancy on the part of Jesus when asked by this Pharisee to enter into his home and sit down to meat with him. I am completely and absolutely convinced that when Jesus was asked by this Pharisee to enter into his home to sit down to meat there was not an ounce of hesitancy within the heart and mind of Jesus, for Jesus was more than willing to go with this particular Pharisee—and not only go with him, but also to enter into his home to dine and fellowship with him. I would dare say that Jesus didn’t have to think about whether or not he was willing to enter into this Pharisee’s home to sit down to meat with him, but was willing to do so without any conditions, restrictions or limitations. There is absolutely no indication within this passage of Scripture that Jesus was reluctant to enter into the house of this Pharisee, or that he needed to take a day or two to think about whether or not it would be good from a public relations standpoint to enter into his home. What adds even more weight and significance into this reality is that Jesus was not only willing to enter into the house of religion, but Jesus was also willing to entertain the homes of a member of a group that oftentimes criticized, judged, tempted, and opposed Him. Jesus was willing to enter into the home of one who belonged to a group of individuals who sought to destroy Him on the regular without any hesitation or reservation. In fact, there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if there weren’t other Pharisees present in the home of Simon on this particular occasion—perhaps even some of those very Pharisees who sought to destroy Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but wonder if there weren’t present within this house members of the Pharisees who had publicly opposed and criticized Jesus, and even sought to destroy Him from among men within the region of Judaea, Jerusalem, Samaria, and the surrounding regions.

Within this passage of Scripture we encounter a Jesus who is willing to sit down to meat with religion, and even fellowship with religion in religion’s house, which is truly remarkable and extraordinary when you take the time to think about it. There is not a doubt in my mind that this passage takes on a whole new meaning when you think about and consider the fact that not only was Jesus willing to enter into religion’s house, but Jesus was willing to sit down to meat and fellowship with religion within that house. WHEN JESUS SITS DOWN FOR FELLOWSHIP WITH RELIGION IN RELIGION’S HOUSE! We dare not miss and lose sight of the tremendous significance and importance of what is found within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus not only entering into the house of religion, but also being willing to sit down to meat and engage in fellowship with religion. I am convinced that it is absolutely critical and necessary that we understand and recognize what is taking place within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find a Jesus who is willing to go against the grain which we oftentimes entertain within our lives and within many of our churches. There are countless men and women who would dare speak out against, and even preach against religion, and will oftentimes emphasize the fact that it is not about religion, but rather it is about relationship. What I so love and absolutely appreciate about this passage of Scripture is that on this particular occasion we don’t find Jesus preaching against religion, nor do we find Jesus entering into the house of Simon to judge Him, to criticize him, or even to indict him. We don’t find Jesus entering into the house of Simon to hurl insults at him, or to even condemn the Pharisees, nor even religion within and among the hearts of men. We don’t find Jesus entering into the home of Simon and preaching against the dangers of religion, or preaching against the dangers of legalism, or even against the dangers of hypocrisy. In all reality, I would dare say that what we find within this passage is a Jesus who is simply willing to sit down to fellowship, and to sit down and embrace religion in order that by simply engaging in fellowship with religion, He might demonstrate the love of the Father, and even demonstrate and manifest compassion and kindness toward this particular Pharisee. You will note that this particular event takes place well before Jesus would indict the Pharisees and the scribes for their hypocrisy, for their legalism, and for the religious practices. This is actually quite remarkable when you take the time to consider it, for within this passage we find a Jesus who was not willing to enter into the home of religion to preach against it, or even to deliver a sermon on the three dangers of religion and hypocrisy in those days. This type of reality completely goes against the grain of any and all of our thinking concerning religion, for there would be many of us who would immediately rise up in public and open criticism of religion in order that we might prove and demonstrate a point concerning the dangers of religion.

I spoke of and. Mentioned earlier that what we find within this passage of Scripture is truly wonderful and remarkable, for it demonstrates a Jesus who is willing to enter into our homes and sit down to meat with us. Within this passage of Scripture we find a Jesus who is willing to sit down and engage himself in fellowship with us—regardless of whether or not we were a publican and sinner and entertained sinners, or regardless of whether or not we were a man like Zaccheus who desired that he might see Jesus, or whether or not we are like Mary and Martha—one of which spent her time serving, while the other spent her time sitting at the feet of Jesus. As you study the four New Testament gospels you will find these different accounts of those whose houses and homes Jesus entered into in order that he might engage Himself in fellowship with them. In fact, I would dare say that in order to truly and properly understand that which is found within this passage of Scripture, it is absolutely necessary that we consider—even if it’s for a moment—the different examples in Scripture of a Jesus who is willing to enter into our homes and engage Himself in fellowship. Consider if you will the different examples and accounts found within the four gospels concerning Jesus who was willing to enter into the homes of certain men and women in order that He might sit down for fellowship with man:

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, manny publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:9-13).

“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who He was: and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him: for He was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that was a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man but false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, for so much as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cambered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath l eft me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bad, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (John 12:1-8).

Within each of these passages—including the one which is before us in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke—we find a Jesus who is willing to enter into the homes of certain individuals in order that he might engage Himself in fellowship with those in whose house He was a guest. Perhaps the one fundamental difference with the account of Zacchaeus that marked his experience and encounter with Jesus as different from the others is that in his case we find Jesus wanting to entering into his house in order that He might have fellowship with him. It wasn’t Zacchaeus who desired that Jesus would enter into his house to sit down to meat with him, but it was Jesus who desired that he enter into His house and sit down to meat with him. This is incredibly interesting and intriguing when you consider it in light of the other accounts found within the gospels, for within the other gospels you will find Jesus being invited into the homes of certain individuals in order that He might engage Himself in fellowship with those who were present. In the case of Matthew the publican and tax collector whom Jesus called from the receipt of custom to follow Him, we find Jesus sitting down to meat in Matthew’s house to fellowship, and in the course of that evening, Jesus and His disciples were joined by many publicans and sinners. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of this, for within this passage we find Jesus being willing to enter into the home of one who was previously a sinner, and even to sit down with and entertain sinners. When we come to the account of Zacchaeus, we find that Zacchaeus was chief among the publicans, and yet Jesus was willing to enter into the house of this chief among the publicans. What’s more, is that not only was Jesus willing to enter into the home of this chief of publicans, but it was also Jesus himself who called the meeting. It was Jesus Himself who called the meeting with that one who chief among the publicans in order that He might engage Himself in fellowship with him. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider this particular reality, for in the case of Matthew we find Jesus willing to enter into the house of one who was formally a publican—and not only enter into the house of one who was formerly a publican, but also sit down and entertain publicans and sinners. In the case of Zacchaeus we find Jesus being willing to enter into the home of one who was chief among the publicans, and who was willing to engage himself in fellowship with him. What’s more, is that Jesus emphatically declared unto this man—after his declaration of repentance—that salvation had come into this home on this particular day. Within the passage we find in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke we find Jesus being willing to enter into the house of religion, and even to sit down and engage Himself in fellowship with religion.

WHEN JESUS SITS DOWN TO MEAT WITH SINNERS! WHEN JESUS SITS DOWN TO MEAT WITH RELIGION! I absolutely love that not only do we find Jesus being willing to enter into the home of sinners, but we also find Jesus being willing to enter into the homes of religion as well. Within the four gospels—not only do we find a Jesus who is willing to sit down for fellowship with sinners, but we also find Jesus being willing to sit down for fellowship with religion as well. What’s more, is that within the gospels we also find Jesus being willing to enter into the home of those whom He loved in order that He might have fellowship and communion with them. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE THREE HOUSES: THE HOUSE OF SIN, THE HOUSE OF RELIGION, & THE HOUSE OF LOVE! Within the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ we find what is essentially a tale of three houses, for we find the house of sinners, we find the house of religion, and we find the house of love. What I so love about two of these accounts is that in two of these houses we find the art and act of worship invading such houses in order that an extravagant worship might be manifested among before and in the presence of Jesus. What I so love about the contrast that is found within these houses is that within two of these houses there was a wonderful and powerful demonstration of love, of worship and affection before and in the presence of Jesus, for we find within two of these houses two distinct women—one of whom was Mary the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead—who entered into the presence of Jesus and engaged themselves in worship before Jesus. What’s more, is that one of these women was willing to enter into the house of religion in order that true and authentic worship of Jesus might invade the house of religion. Imagine the scene as it unfolded in the house of Simon, for Simon invited Jesus into his home to sit down to fellowship with Him, and during the course of the meal, an unsuspected and uninvited woman—not only enters into the house, but also enters into the house and engages in an extravagant and costly act of worship in the presence of Jesus . There in the house of religion as Jesus entertained religion and had fellowship with it, a pure and genuine worship infiltrated and invaded the home in order that worship might be lavished and poured upon Jesus. What marks this as being all the more incredible and breathtaking is what we find and read in verses twenty-nine, thirty, and thirty-four of this same chapter within the New Testament gospel of Luke. If we are to truly understand that which is found within the house of Simon, it is absolutely necessary that we consider that which is found within these passages. Consider if you will the words which are found in verses twenty-nine and thirty-, as well as that which is found written in the thirty-fourth verse of this chapter:

“And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29-30).

“The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children” (Luke 7:34).

Oh, please don’t miss that which is found within these verses, for within these two verses—not only do we find publicans (sinners) justifying God, being baptized with the baptism of John, but we also find it being declared of Jesus that He was a friend of publicans and sinners. While it is true that this statement was meant to be an indictment and condemnation toward and against Jesus, I am completely and utterly convinced that it is actually an incredibly wonderful and powerful statement, for within Scripture we see and find a Jesus who is willing to entertain sinners, and even enter into their homes. Not only did Jesus enter into the house of Matthew who was formerly a publican and sinner, but we also find Jesus entertaining and entering into the house of Zacchaeus who was chief among the publicans and sinners. What I so love about the gospels is that they bring us face to face with a Jesus who is not only willing to entertain publicans and sinners, but with a Jesus who is also willing to sit enter into the homes of sinners in order that he might engage Himself in fellowship with them. What’s more, is that we find a Jesus who is willing to enter into the home of religion in order that He might engage Himself in fellowship with religion. It was true that Jesus issued stinging indictments toward and against religion within and throughout the course of His life and ministry—particularly and especially with what we find and read in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew—however, on this particular instance and on this particular occasion we do not find Jesus indicting or condemning religion, but rather entering into religion’s house, and fellowshipping with religion. In fact, it wasn’t until religion sought to judge and condemn the pure and authentic act of worship of this women in the city who was a sinner that Jesus sought to rebuke and correct Simon. As you read the account of Simon inviting Jesus into his house you will find that Simon—one of the Pharisees—desired that Jesus would eat with Him. Luke records how Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat with him. At some point within and during the course of the night a woman in the city, which was a winner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at the feet of Jesus behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears, and to wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. I absolutely love that which is found within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we not only find Jesus sitting down with religion in religion’s house, but we find a sinner invading the fellowship between religion and Jesus in order that she might pour out and lavish her worship upon Jesus the Christ.

WHEN SINNERS INVADE THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND JESUS! WHEN A SINNER INTRUDES UPON THE FELLOWSHIP OF JESUS AND RELIGION! How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider this particular passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find Jesus being willing to entertain religion in religion’s house, but we find a sinner being willing to enter into, and even invade and intrude upon this fellowship in order that she might offer herself in an exchange of worship before and in the presence of Jesus. Here was Jesus sitting down to meat in religion’s house, and thus fellowshipping with religion, and yet that which interrupts this fellowship between religion and Jesus is one who was a sinner—a sinner who desired that she might worship Jesus with the ointment which she brought in her alabaster box, as well as with the tears from her eyes. It’s important that we recognize that this woman didn’t merely bring the ointment which was found and contained within this alabaster jar with her, but this woman brought with her her tears. I am convinced that more often than not we allow ourselves to get caught up in in the ointment which was found within the alabaster box, and the cost and worth of the ointment that was found in the alabaster box, and yet I am convinced that there was something that was of much greater worth than the ointment that was found within the alabaster jar. I am convinced that the tears of this woman who was a sinner—tears which she brought with her in addition to the ointment—were of more value before and in the presence of Jesus than the entire jar of ointment. We would place a great deal of emphasis on the ointment that was found within this alabaster jar, and yet I am convinced that the tears of this woman were of more worth and more value than all the ointment that was found within this alabaster jar. Far too often we place an over abundance of emphasis on that which has monetary value, and that which can be measured in a monetary fashion, and yet I am convinced that what is of greater worth, and what is of greater value cannot be measured monetarily, but rather emotionally and spiritually. It was true that the fragrant aroma of the ointment did in fact fill the entire house of religion, however, I am convinced that it was the tears of this woman which carried with it a greater value and a greater worth than the ointment within the alabaster jar could and would ever have carried. I am convinced that if we are to truly understand this passage, we must not allow ourselves to get caught up and consumed in the alabaster box and the ointment that was contained within it, for by doing so we forget that the greater brokenness which took place in the house of religion wasn’t the brokenness of the alabaster box, but the brokenness of the woman herself. More importantly than the brokenness of the alabaster jar was the brokenness of the woman which was not measured in ointment, or even the fragrant aroma of the ointment, but tears from her eyes. It was the ointment and the fragrant aroma of the ointment that demonstrated and revealed the brokenness of the alabaster jar, however, it was the tears of this woman which demonstrated the brokenness of this woman.

In all reality, I am thoroughly convinced that the greater brokenness within the house of religion was not the brokenness of the alabaster jar—that which could be measured monetarily—but the brokenness of the woman which could be measured in and through her tears. Oh that we would not get so caught up in that which is and can be measured monetarily, but in that which can be measured in the brokenness of our souls, the brokenness of our spirits, and the brokenness of our hearts. We would like to focus so much on the ointment that was present within the alabaster jar, for it is the ointment which we can quantify and measure according to natural and human means and methods, however, there is not a doubt in my mind that the greater brokenness found within the house of religion was not the brokenness of an alabaster jar, but the brokenness of the woman herself who was the greater vessel in the presence of Jesus and in the house of religion. What’s more, is that I absolutely love that this woman paid absolutely no attention, nor did she care that she seemingly invaded, intruded upon, and interrupted the fellowship between Jesus and religion in the house of religion, for she knew she was a sinner, and desired that she might engage herself in extravagant and lavish worship before and in the presence of Jesus. This woman knew that Jesus was in the house of a Pharisee, and knew that Jesus was in the house with religion, and yet this woman cared absolutely nothing about the fact that she was intruding upon this fellowship between religion and love, nor between the fellowship of compassion and religion. This woman was willing to enter into the house of religion uninvited, for religion has never and will never invite sinners into its house. This woman had to come uninvited and without warning and advanced notice, for she knew that religion would not have invited her otherwise. What’s more, is that there was one thing that made the risk of invading the house of religion worth it for this woman—namely, that Jesus was present within the house. It mattered not who the house belonged to, nor who was present within the house, save that Jesus was in the house, and that was enough for the woman to risk public scrutiny and opposition by others. For this woman, the simple fact that Jesus was present within the house of religion was the most important reality within her heart and mind, and as a direct result of recognizing and understanding that Jesus was present within he house, she sought to risk a great deal in order that she might enter into this house uninvited so she could worship Jesus with the brokenness of the alabaster jar, as well as with the brokenness of her own vessel as demonstrated through and with tears. Oh, the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to crash the fellowship between Jesus and religion in order that the brokenness of our vessels might be manifested in the presence of Jesus.

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