The Woman Views the Cross 5

John 13:12-17

Working with the local school at putting on a musical and helping to build the sets has emphasized to me the benefit of demonstrating what you want done. It is so much easier to act out a role or construct a wall when someone else presents an example of what it should be like. The example sets the pattern. You simply imitate what was done.

At the house of the Pharisee a sinful woman washed the feet of Jesus as an expression of devotion. At the Last Supper with his disciples Jesus washed the feet of his followers as an expression of service. These acts of humility and compassion in both cases were examples and demonstrations to all who would follow Jesus.

What does Jesus remind them of in verse 13? What does he tell them to do? What does he point out in verse 17?

In spite of the fact that the disciples were not worthy and we are not worthy Jesus went beyond washing feet. He sacrificed himself on the cross, washing not our feet but our souls. He accepted us as sinners and welcomed us in his kingdom.

Whenever we are confronted with someone we may consider sinful and unworthy we should recall what Jesus did. He lowered himself to the position of the lowest of servants, performing a task that no one wants to do. But he did it out of compassion and love, and he did it because he accepted the disciples even though they were sinful.

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Does this mean Jesus wants us to make certain everyone has clean feet? Of course not. What he wants – the example he set – was that we should humble ourselves and be accepting of others even when they are sinful and may be considered unworthy. We are to accept others in love and compassion and humility, and invite them in to the kingdom of God rather than shun them and keep them out.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Whose feet do you need to wash?

The Woman Views the Cross 4

2 Corinthians 5:16-18

One of my favorite stories is one I heard at a ministry convention about a ruffian who turned his heart over to God. When he first entered the church he wore leather and chains, and had obscenities tattooed on his knuckles. After turning his heart to God he was baptized, but not before having the tattoos removed. When he came up out of the water he declared, “Now the outside is as clean as the inside.”

He had become a new person. He had a new soul, a clean spirit washed by Christ. But he had to remove the external reminders of what he had been.

Unfortunately, some people don’t have tattoos that can be removed so that people can see that they have been made new. Instead, they have invisible tattoos, a reputation or past history that others will not allow them to forget.

Paul gives clear advice on how to think and act like believers in Christ. How are we not to look at people? What happens to those who believe in Jesus? What is our ministry?

Verse 18 is a wonderful verse for all of us to remember. God reconciled us to Him. He took away our sin, wiped it out, so that we might be part of who He is. And because of that we should also have this ministry of reconciliation. It is our calling and duty as Christians to work toward bringing others into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Regardless of the person’s past, regardless of the person’s current behavior, regardless of our personal opinion or our own standards, we are supposed to teach others about God and the salvation they can have through the Savior. We should not be looking at others from a human or worldly view. We should be looking at them as God does, seeing each person as a valued member of the body of Christ.

And when they receive Christ in their hearts then we need to remember that they are new creations. The past is over with and forgotten. You are accepted by Christ. Can you accept others?

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is there someone who needs to have their past forgotten by you?

The Woman Views the Cross 3

Matthew 7:3-5

I had a friend in my high school and college years who was big on giving advice to me and others. He always seemed hyper-critical of what I did and who I was friends with. Eventually, of course, I stopped associating with him and wonder to this day why I listened to him. His own life, in my opinion, was a mess. He struggled with finances, with his weight, and with alcohol. As far as I know he never married because he could never meet anyone who measured up to his expectations.

In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives a warning about criticizing others. What metaphor does he use? What must we do first before advising others?

It can be very tempting to offer advice or criticism to others. But even when our intentions are for the best we must be cautious in this. Why are we so eager to point out the problems in other people and offer solutions to them when we have a sufficient amount of troubles in our own lives to deal with?

This concept extends beyond comments about appearance, decorating, diet and lifestyle choices. We often take on the same attitude when it comes to spirituality.

There are so many who like to sit in judgment of others, pointing out the sin and failings in others. They do not seem to see their own sinful nature. They seem to overlook or dismiss their own spiritual short-comings.

Philippians 2:12 says, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” We each should see to our own salvation first before looking in on others. This is not to say we shouldn’t share the gospel message until we are certain of our own place in heaven. But we do need to remove the plank of sin in ourselves before we can worry over the sin of others. Before we spend time deciding who is acceptable for God’s kingdom, let’s look to our own thoughts and behavior to see if we are acceptable.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Give yourself a prayerful and honest evaluation. What planks of sin are in your life?

The Woman Views the Cross 2

Luke 7:44-50

Our previous church had many outreach programs and mission projects that members could support or be involved with. But there was also a woman – a member of the church, but not well known – who had started her own ministry outside the church selling used books to raise money to help needy children. The question came up – should the church support this since it is not a program of the church?

As we continue in the encounter with the sinful woman, we have seen that Jesus has accepted her in spite of her sins. What does he point out to his host? What does he say to her? What is the response? How does Jesus clarify the matter?

Of course we were supposed to support the ministry of the woman in the church, even if her idea was not the idea of church leaders. What was important was that service was being done. Good and holy efforts were made to serve God’s kingdom.

Sometimes Christians get caught up in the organization and order of the church, failing to see what goes on outside the walls of the church. Activities conducted outside the congregation may seem foreign to us, and often suspect. But, are we as “good Christians” actually doing any good work, or just sitting in judgment of others?

Although we are sinful we are accepted by Christ, and being accepted we are called to serve the kingdom of God. If we wait until we are good enough to do the work of the Lord we will never do anything. We must act in faith, trusting that we are accepted and forgiven.

And that should be our attitude toward others. We cannot judge them and turn others away. But we should accept them as Christ does, accept them as they are, and invite them to join us in the work of God, or offer to join them in their good work.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you accept he work of others without judging them?

The Woman Views the Cross 1

Luke 7:37-43

When I taught junior high school there was a particular student who did not do well; he had poor grades and a bad attitude. He did not do well in most classes, that is, but he was fine in mine. When I suggested to another teacher that we all may want to work with this student I was told that he was a hopeless case. But at the end of the year the young man wrote me a note thanking me for my encouragement.

It was the same student in all the classes, the difference was that I would not let his reputation color my perception of him.

In Luke 7 we have the first part of Jesus encountering a sinful woman. What did the woman do for Jesus? What did the Pharisee think? What was the point of the parable?

The issue of sinfulness came up the other day in a discussion among clergy. How much sin is too much sin? The question arose from church members trying to decide if a sinful person should be allowed to take part in their worship service. I responded with this story of the sinful woman.

She knew she was sinful, but she also knew she needed to be forgiven. With this awareness and this powerful drive to find salvation she wordlessly offers praise and adoration to Jesus.

Did Jesus know who she was? Yes, of course. But her past was not important. What was important was that she was seeking forgiveness, and knew she needed a great debt forgiven.

We are all sinful, and to attempt to rank our sin with others – I’m not as sinful as you, my sin is not as bad as yours – is absolute foolishness. To reject another because we view them as sinful is to take the position of the Pharisee. We sit in judgment and reject the very people that Christ came to save and that the church should work to rescue.

We should each be willing to accept other people in spite of their sinfulness, because we have had a great debt canceled. Perhaps it would help us to accept others when we remember we have been accepted by Jesus.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to remember the size of your cancelled debt?