“Now when the Pharisee who had bid Him saw, 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.”
The Lord Jesus Christ came to give testimony as that Prophet that should come who was to be raised up in the midst of His people and of His brethren who was like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15). His works testified to the power of God within and the Word which he spoke was that which proceeded from the mouth of God. Indeed, after Jesus had fed the five thousand and when they were filled, twelve baskets of remnant were collected, “then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:14).
Now Zacharias was foretold of the Messenger of Yehovah that he and his aged barren wife, Elizabeth, would have a son. This child was to precede the Messiah and “go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared of the Lord” (Luke 1:17). The return of Elijah was the most sacred sign for all the people of Israel for this notable and highly esteemed prophet would appear “Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yehovah” (Mal. 4:5). Even today there remains an empty chair at the Passover celebration as many still look for the return of this prophet, in spite of the fact that the Messenger of Yehovah said that this one was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah.
Zacharias rejoiced when his son was born and as his voice returned unto him he proclaimed the word of God as he received it from His Messenger; “And you child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation to His people through he remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day-spring from on high has visited us to give light unto them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76). This was the promise and the fulfillment of the Word of God from the beginning and yet the eyes of the people were blinded to the truth even though He stood before them.
This was not to infer that the man Elijah was to be resurrected and walk the earth, although that is exactly what is expected, and when the people came to John and plainly asked him, “What then, are you Elias? And He said, “I am not”; “and they said are you that prophet? And he answered and said, No” (John 1:21). So when Jesus began His ministry and the ministry and life of John began to fade away, the question of that prophet was brought up many times. Jesus testified to the import of this man and the truth of his ministry when He asked the people what they were looking for when they went into the wilderness; “A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet, for this is whom it is written, Behold I send My Messenger before your face, who shall prepare Your way before You. Truly I say unto you, among them that are born of woman, there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, not withstanding, he that is least in the kingdom is greater than he” Matt. 11:11f).
“Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34).
The words and the works which the Messiah Servant of God did stirred a great interest in the society of the day. His following became numbered as a great multitude which followed after Him seeking a sign. They were not children of grace who walked by faith for they needed a tangible proof on which they could base their conclusions as to whether this was the Messiah or not. His fame grew to the point that He was known as the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee (Matt. 21:11) and many sought with anticipation that He was the one to restore the kingdom to Israel. But Jesus did not act according to their preconceived notions. He did not march into Jerusalem and overthrow the Roman rule, He did not lead an insurrection against the religious ruling class and He did not call for and uproar from His followers.
He spoke of love, peace and forgiveness; He catered to the poor, the helpless and the social undesirables which caused confusion to many on-lookers. He chose twelve men as His disciples who were neither rich, influential or powerful, one of which was he who should betray Him. He consorted with sinners, came in contact with the unclean and spoke to women and children. He told a Roman Centurion that he had a greater faith than any who were in Israel. He went to the city which was the beauty of the pasture (Nain) and came in contact with the body of a dead man. This, according to the law, made Him unclean and would have negated His ministry for He was under an oath; yet when the man arose from the dead, “there came fear on all and they glorified God , saying that a great prophet is risen up among us and that God has visited His people” (Luke 7:16).
This teaching and conduct even brought doubt to the mind of the man who had come in the spirit and power of Elijah. He sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was messiah because He was not acting as they had supposed. The one who had been appointed and anointed of God to prepare the way of Yehovah was not sure that this one whose shoes he was not worthy to loose was the One. He was not sure that this One whom he saw the Spirit of the Lord descend upon in the form of a dove, followed by the testimony of the voice from heaven saying, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” was the personification of that “great and dreadful day of Yehovah”.
The man made explanations and teachings about the kingdom of God and all that must needs come to pass before it was made evident still exist today. The ‘would be wise’ of the world boastfully state that this could not have been the coming of that day because we have not seen that which has been foretold. They expect world events of economic disaster, political upheaval and religious apostasy to precede that day and they look to the historical records of man as proof for their prognostications. These men, however, were told plainly by Jesus, that He had come to fulfill all things written by Him in the Law and the prophets. He told the disciples of John to compare what they saw Him doing with what the scriptures said should happen. His Word was confirmed by His works and His works were predicted by His Word. Yet in all this, having eyes to see, they were prevented from understanding the truth until all things written should be fulfilled.
“Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? They are like unto children sitting in the market place and calling one to another and saying, We have piped unto you and you have not danced; we have lamented unto you and you have not wept” (Luke 7:32).
Many people had followed after Jesus for various reasons but primarily to hear and see some new thing. From the very beginning most were impressed and astonished by all that they saw with the natural eye and some believed in Him. But not a one of them could properly understand what was being openly manifested unto them for it was hidden from them. These people expected that they not only understood the truth but were in a position to be the teachers to all others, yet they themselves were divided into sects. They set the standard for religious correctness in speech, practice and ideology and when Jesus came to them, they thought they would dictate to Him and He should respond to them. That teaching still permeates the halls of religious society in the ideas and philosophies concerning prayer, where if you pester God long enough He will cave into your requests, or the ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ philosophies about the promise of God. These all have the noxious and odious evidence of Adam, festering in the compost piles of their reasoning, where blooms fruit of the hemlock which is the exaltation of man and the abasement of God.
God is not a respecter of persons, nor is there the shadow of turning in Him. He is not coerced into action nor is His will abated by the tearful pleas of the creature (no matter how many ‘prayer warriors’ there are). He has purposed in Himself from before the foundation of the world the same purpose which comes to pass moment by moment of each day, so when Jesus came to do the will of the Father and to openly manifest the Kingdom of God, He did so in the manner which was evidenced in heaven not as was expected here on earth.
Man expects that his feeble attempts at worship are to be acceptable before the Almighty God because of the good intent of his heart. His religious activities revolve around a form of piety and godliness which is derived from the limited carnal understanding of a finite mind. His teachings are veiled attempts to have others achieve that which has not been accomplished throughout all the ages. Neither Adam nor any of his children, corporately, can sew enough fig leaves together to cover his inabilities nor to make one single child of Adam presentable before the throne of the Righteous Judge but the arrogance of the pride of his heart has them convinced to continue to try. Jesus was not walking according to what they expected nor were His words pleasing to their ears and so the Pharisees followed Him about seeking to trap Him in His words and condemn Him in His conduct as they sought any and all evidence that they were right and He was wrong.
“And one of the Pharisees desired that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined to eat” (7:36).
Was Jesus ignorant of the intentions of this man? No at all! He had ordained this man to be in this location with this intent and the power of His will made him willing to desire to eat a meal with Jesus. There is no coercion on the part of God for He has made the heart and mind of this religious leader to be in complete conformance to His purpose wherein He demonstrates His power over all things and the foolishness of man.
Jesus was in Capernium where He had the encounter with the centurion and He then walked about twenty five miles south to the city of Nain. This was followed by the encounter with John’s disciples and the upbraiding of the moral arrogance of the children of this generation; then came the invitation to dinner at this man’s house. As was the custom of dining in those days, the people were semi-reclined as they prepared for the meal and as Jesus took His position another actor came to stage front which drew the attention of all in attendance. (There is no indication that the disciples accompanied Jesus to this location, which indeed could be considered quite an imposition upon the hospitality of this Pharisee; but there is also no reason to conclude that they were not present, for this lesson is consistent with every thing which Jesus has shown them.)
A woman in the city was present in this Pharisee’s house. Does that seem a bit strange? The Pharisees would not sully themselves by coming in contact with anything that might make them unclean. They were very concerned with various washings and approached Jesus and asked as to why His disciples ate with unwashed hands. They were obsessively consumed with the proper observances of what they thought was the Law of Moses and went to great lengths to keep everything ‘acceptable’ (Kosher) in their lives and homes. So, where did this woman come from and how did she get into this man’s house? He did not have her arrested by the local constabulary and subjected to the law for trespassing, he did not meet her at the door and ask for her invitation and yet he watched, helplessly, as she began a most intriguing presentation. Instead of his objecting or even intervening, he acted as one who had indeed staged this performance which was soon to back fire on him. For as this woman of low esteem in the community began to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears and wipe them with the hair on her head, this man “spake within himself, saying, this man, if he were a prophet, would have known what manner of woman that touches him; for she is a sinner”
What did he mean by this? Did he suppose that a prophet could see and identify sin, or that all prophets received news bulletins about the local offenders? Why and how should a prophet know who is a sinner and to what degree they have sinned? This man was insinuating that the sin of this woman was greater than any normal sin and certainly far and above anything he had ever done. He believed in a grading system for the actions of a man that could be classified from a sin of ignorance all the way up to and including ‘the unpardonable sin’. But is there any proof for this theory? Not the least!
All have sinned in their natural father, Adam, and death has come upon all, without exception. There exist in each son of Adam guilt and rebellion as they are shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5). The debt that is incurred by this sin is death and the shedding of blood for the remission of the sin. But the blood of Adam is polluted and can never be acceptable as a sacrifice for sin for he who has offended in the least point of the Law of God has offended all. This Pharisee stood as guilty before God as any other child of the dust and more so because unto him was given the law and the covenants; yes unto him and the nation of Israel more was given as a testimony of the truth and therefore the judgment is greater than those who have not these testimonies from God.
He brought this woman in as a test to see if Jesus was a true prophet and just what He would do if a soiled woman of the city began touching Him. Notice well that she came up from behind and began washing His feet. She was instructed to make a stealth approach so as to not give away her identity or make herself known but Jesus knew who she was. He had ordained her to be of such a sorted lifestyle so as to be attracted to the lusts of this ‘righteous man’. He had prepared her to be willing and able to fit the need that this person thought would be necessary for him to show the world this fraud yet when he mussed within himself his words were turned against him in a very peculiar manner.
“And Jesus answering and said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto you. And he said, Master, say on.” (7:40)
The arrogance of Edom was to be self revealed as the Word of God, which pierces “even to the dividing point of bone and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart ( Heb. 4:12) not only knew what he was thinking but had given him those very thoughts. This man reasoned that he had gotten the proof that this Jesus was not of God but the trap which he had laid was about to close and catch him.
This ‘sorted’ woman, carefully chosen of the Pharisee, came in to perform her part crying; Why? Was she objecting to the role she should play? If she had been hired of the man for this charade she indeed would be rewarded handsomely for her part. Perhaps she may have been offered immunity from any prosecution for her collaboration in this scheme but she enters in before the Lord of glory weeping to such a degree that there is sufficient fluid to wash the dust off the feet of Jesus. This is a testimony to the presence of the Spirit within. She knew that she was a sinner and as the light of His glory shone forth in her heart, as a child of the new covenant, she came forth “with weeping and with supplications will I lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of water in a straight way in which they shall not stumble, for I am father to Israel and Ephraim My first-born” (Jer. 31:9).
The station in life that was given to this woman was necessary to prepare her to make an open demonstration of how she hated her own evil ways and her doings that were not good (Ezek. 36:31); she hated herself and in the presence of the Elect Servant of God she could not hold her tears of pain and discomfort. That which was a plant on the part of the aggressor was in fact the testimony of the power of God unto salvation for all to see and hear, for Yehovah has shown forth His salvation and all flesh has seen it together.
Jesus acknowledges that she was a sinner and that her sins were many but He also states that she had already been forgiven. She washed the dust of this world off the feet with the tears of agony for the trials and tribulations which she had been assigned not as a means to earn her salvation but as a testimony to her salvation. The love of the Father was shed abroad in her heart because she was a child of grace in a chosen vessel. All of her indiscretions and questionable conduct were necessary elements of her life to make her suitable for the part she was given to play and her sins, though many, had been forgiven when the blood of the Lamb was shed before the foundation of the world. Before she was born, before she had done any good or any evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, God had loved her with an everlasting love and nothing she could do could have any effect upon that love. The Pharisee was acquainted with her and that probably through less than honourable means. He thought he was setting a trap for Jesus but he was caught as a bird in the fullers net by his own devices.
Jesus told this woman that her sins are forgiven. The blood of the covenant was struck upon the door post of this tabernacle and the Father’s name was written in her forehead. The men who sat at meat could not see such things for they are not visible to the natural eye and if they had seen them, they would not understand the meaning. Jesus performed many miracles for all to see and His fame went throughout the region but none of what He did changed Adam in any way; they had an effect on those who saw or experienced these wonders but they did not change the flesh to anything more than the dust of the earth.
“And He said unto the woman, Your faith has saved you, go in peace” (7:50)
Salvation is by faith and that not of man for it is the gift of God. Neither the actions nor the beliefs of this woman saved her from her sin. The blood of the covenant covered her sin because she was of the Beloved and the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah was unto her a daughter of the Israel of our God. She believed God and it was accounted unto her for righteousness just as it was unto Abram and every child of grace. The blood of the Lamb was pure and whole and was the only perfect sacrifice for the remission of sin. It was shed in the exact quantity necessary to cleanse her from all unrighteousness for “this is all the fruit to take away (her) sin” when the sin of His people were placed upon He who knew no sin. This event in time was the necessary demonstration for all to witness of the love of God for His people and the complete ignorance of man.
Those that sat about this meal were amazed that this man, Jesus, was answering the questions which they reasoned within themselves for no man heard their words. Jesus very lovingly and in deference to the common beliefs of the religious elite declares this outcast of society as one of the redeemed of the Lord. This was contrary to their standard, contrary to their understanding and completely contrary to outward appearances. Instead of coming to the powerful, rich and famous people of the world He has come to the sick, the maimed and the outcast. He has called the sinners to repentance, healed those who have the pains of death about them and opened the eyes of the blind unto the love of God. This woman was sent forth in the peace that passes all understanding for she had peace with God.
This was again another example to the disciples of the testimony of faith. They were shown how that they had not faith and therefore they could not please God after the ways of man. Christ revealed unto them a Roman Centurion, a woman of Samaria, a woman of the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, a woman with an issue of blood and now a despised and rejected woman of society. These stood diametrically opposed to the patriarchal society of the people and the religious piety of the ruling class. Jesus did not come for the ‘beautiful’ people; He came to seek and to deliver the unwanted and despised of the world.
“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolishness of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised, God has chosen; and the things which are not to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:26).
The philosophies and theologies of man are not the doctrine of Jesus Christ. The sin of His people stands forgiven in Him before the time when they are committed because He has loved His Beloved with an eternal love. He purged the leaven out of the vessel and covered it with His blood before God fashioned them from the dust of the earth; but in the fullness of time He reveals Himself dwelling in His people. No man can know this love, Adam cannot understand it and the body of this death cannot have it.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
January 10, 2015