Thesis:Understanding Jesus begins with understanding oneself.
Introduction:As we have looked into Luke's final statement in the unit comprised of chapter seven, we have seen that Luke wanted Theophilus to fully embrace Jesus as worthy of an extravagant love ... a love that opens the door to the ability to trust Him explicitly. This is, after all is said and done, the "secret" to "Life" as a composite of "righteousness, peace, and joy."
But, to love Jesus extravagantly is no small task. This ability has considerable requirements for the one proposing to so love Him, as well as huge commitments from Him as the One worthy of such love.
So, anything Luke can tell us that will enable us to move towards the ability to love Jesus extravagantly should be welcomed by us.
Given the thesis that Luke was unfolding not only the issue of the importance of love for Jesus, but also the way to practice such love, we are going to look into what he told Theophilus about the inner workings of the mind of a man who did not love in that way. Our assumption is that Luke believed that a valid grasp of what hinders love can enable a valid practice of love.
I. The Foundations of Love Unchained.
A. A rigorous and deliberate rejection of what is implied in Luke's phrase, "...the Pharisee who had invited Him...".
1. This phrase deliberately insists that we consider its context.
a. The context establishes the Lukan claim that "all" Pharisees are significantly committed to producing a false image of themselves in both the eyes of others as well as in their own eyes and using "God" to do it: Luke 12:1.
b. The context establishes the Lukan claim that this particular Pharisee was deeply committed to this task.
1) An invitation to a meal in one's home, at the minimum, projects the impression of, at least, a "welcome" and a "desire to get to know" the one invited.
2) The refusal to "welcome" and the hidden antagonism of Simon clearly indicate that the desired impression was fundamentally at odds with the reality.
c. The context establishes the Lukan claim that Simon clearly assumed that Jesus would accept his invitation.
1) This is revealed by Luke's choice of words behind the translation "invited".
a) When Luke recorded the "invitation" in 7:36, he used a word that indicates "a request", but when he decided to expose Simon's "inner thinking", he shifted to a word that generally has the notion of "a summons to submission" rather than "an invitation to participation".
b) Luke's shift to Simon's "inner thinking" indicates that Simon probably did not even entertain the idea that Jesus would reject his "invitation".
2) This is also revealed by Luke's claim that Simon was of those who "called" Jesus a gluttonous drunk who hobnobbed with apostates and sinners.
2. This phrase implies that there is a profound conflict in "love".
a. At every level of "love" is this question: who/what is the ultimate object? Luke 16:13.
b. In respect to Simon, the issue is whether he "loved" the Lord his God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength or just wanted to give that impression as a way to satisfy his own love for himself.
1) Simon was a recognized "spiritual leader".
2) As such he was under the obligation to provide the people under his circle of influence with true spiritual guidance.
3) This meant that he had to tell folks how to respond to Jesus.
4) And that meant that he was under obligation to find out as much about Jesus as he could.
5) But, in his "inner thinking" he had already made up his mind so that he was not interested in discovering what Jesus really was; he was merely interested in making sure that he "projected" that proper "image".
c. At every point of genuine "love" is the absolute necessity that the "lover" die to his/her own agenda in order to bring the beloved into blessing.
3. Thus, we see that everything about Simon's hypocrisy must be rigorously rejected if we seek to love extravagantly.
a. Revelation 3:15 tells us pointedly that Jesus has no use whatsoever for those who refuse to reject hypocrisy.
b. 1 Corinthians 16:22 tells us that the danger is real.
c. Transparency, coupled to a willingness to change, is a necessity.
B. A clear-eyed understanding that any commitment to "image building/maintaining" will kill the ability to gain through "beholding".
1. Luke exhorted Theophilus to "behold" in 7:37 with the implication that such an action would lead to a better understanding.
2. But Luke records that Simon "beheld" (7:39) and drew conclusions from his "beholding" that were completely off target.
C. An absence of false standards that create false conclusions.
1. Simon's "inner thinking" was revealed by Luke: "he said in himself saying".
2. His initial "dogma" was true enough.
a. Prophets typically do have sufficient insight into those with whom they have to deal that those exposed to their insight are unable to be effective as hypocrites.
1) To Simon's everlasting shame, Jesus proved his assumption to be true.
2) That Simon did not expect that his own "belief" would blow up in his own face is obvious.
b. "Truth" is often found in the service of lies.
3. His unstated "dogma" was profoundly wrong.
a. Simon simply assumed that his attitude toward the "sinner" would be shared by anyone who "knew" about her and "shared" his interest in "righteousness".
b. But Simon's commitment to his own reputation above all actually destroyed his ability to really understand anything at all.
1) His errors were several.
a) He made a false distinction between himself and this "sinner" (he assumed Jesus "ought" to come to his house but "ought not" have anything to do with a 'sinner' -- I am worthy, she is not).
b) He refused the obvious: the distinction between the woman's reputation and her present behavior.
c) He did not see that Jesus had no more use for "sinners" than He did for "Pharisees" if there was no repentance in the picture.