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Party Crashers

1 Corinthians 12:12-13;  Luke 7:36-50


One day while Jesus was going from place-to-place healing, teaching, and befriending people from all ways of life, a man named Simon the Pharisee hosted a very special dinner in his own courtyard. His very special guest was no other than Jesus, a sort of raising start to judge by the crowds that followed him wherever he went.

A word about Simon – he was a Pharisee, a member of a prestigious, and somewhat feared, religious elite in Israel. The Pharisees spent their entire life studying religion and morals and encouraging everybody to live a holy life – which was not a bad idea after all! Yet they ended up believing that to please God, as we said last Sunday, people must stick to many commandments, rules, regulations, and rituals as possible.

The problem was, these folks gradually saw themselves as more spiritual and righteous than everybody else, thus they concluded that they were “set apart,” or “separated” by God self from the ordinary people – that’s what the word “pharisee” means, “separated,” “set apart,” “place in a different category.”

Now, this didn’t square well with Jesus, for Jesus always put people before rules, regulations, and rituals, and God’s grace before judgment and criticism.


I always wonder, did Simon invite Jesus because he admired him that much, or to learn something new from him? I don’t think so – I suspect Simon invited Jesus because he was a collector of celebrities and Jesus was becoming one himself. Simon’s behavior during the meal seems to confirm my suspicion – in fact, he shows little respect for Jesus, he even patronizes Jesus.

Let me explain — this very special meal takes place in Simon’s own courtyard, and he has invited several distinguished pharisee buddies. As it was custom in those days, just a few feet away from their table, a bunch of neighbors sat on the edges, in the shadows.

Those folks were not properly guests – just curious neighbors, for it was the custom in those days that when a rabbi was invited for an occasion like this, everyone around the block would come in to listen to the wisdom a rabbi could share with them.

And this may explain the presence of this anonymous woman whom Luke will soon remove from the margins to place right at the very center of the story. The table is spread with an attractive array of dishes, and the distinguished guests –including some of Jesus’s disciples — are using their best manners.

Until this woman steps forward and literally crashes their meal!

A non-guest, and a woman — besides, a woman who doesn’t exactly fit in with such an illustrious occasion, for she is a social outcast, perhaps a prostitute, to judge by the way Simon talks about her.

Chances are, this woman’s sins, unlike those of the dinner guests, are well known.


What does she do then? She moves forward and sits at the feet of Jesus, and then begins to cry. I believe she cries because she had been listening to Jesus and, at some point, she glimpsed in him the hand which would lift her from her spiritual misery. Her tears rain down on Jesus’s feet, Luke tells us.

Round her neck she wears, like all Jewish women, a little alabaster with a fragrance, and to everyone’s amazement, she pours her alabaster on Jesus’s feet and then she dries them with her own long hair. Too much for Simon – now he springs forth upset and disgusted, and he warns Jesus, – “be careful, you have no idea what kind of woman is this!”


If anything like this ever happened at one of the parties I plan to sponsor when I retire a rich man to a huge mansion with a lovely courtyard, well, I often wonder how would I react to a party-crasher like this, someone who also shows such an extravagant love? How would you react?

I might react very much like Simon did – and you?

But Jesus always surprises us with a radical perspective, for he doesn’t worry about the extravagant woman – he worries instead about Simon. “Simon, you did not offer me water to wash my feet before the meal as you were expected to do with your guest. You did not welcome me with a brotherly hug and a brotherly kiss as you were expected to do with all your guests, but this woman hasn’t stopped kissing my feet.”

“Listen well, Simon – say what you say about this woman, but so far, she has shown much more love and appreciation than you did!”

Before Simon has a chance to react, Jesus turns towards the anonymous woman with his most wonderful words of life – “Ma’am, you have loved so much, how could God not forgive your past and give you a new beginning? Welcome into my life, please join me around this table, my communion table!”


Friends, here we are, once again, in this beautiful and cozy courtyard of grace. Ready to party around this Communion table to partake with grain and grape – saints and sinners together. And do you know why? Because God is so good!

Because of God’s extravagant love, a love that welcomes us as we are –saints, and sinners; sinners and saints in all shapes and all shades between imperfection and perfection.

Now, how would you feel if the Holy Spirit himself were to crash our party here today and, pointing at you, he would cry out something like this – “Hey, folks, you’d better watch out, be careful with this guy . . . for he has such a bad reputation!


I understand Jesus’s disappointment with Simon –we all know how difficult it is to deal with a judgmental person, a person who has a real problem accepting things – and people — the way they are.

Someone who sees the world as absolutely “black” or absolutely “white” –good or bad. Someone who patronizes and criticizes – whose “opinions” hurt as poisoned arrows, and who always claim the truth for himself. Someone who typically put others down just to feel good about himself. Someone who can’t see his neighbor right in front of his own eyes.

Jesus can’t keep his mouth shut – “Don’t you realize, Simon, how much you are hurting this woman? You are so distinguished, so spiritual, and yet you can’t see this woman; you can’t see neither recognize her human condition, her spiritual and emotional needs, neither understand that she is reaching out for forgiveness and accepting love. Can’t you see her?”


Right there, in Simon’s courtyard, around a table that was meant to be a welcoming table, all Simon and others see is a “bad woman.” But Jesus sees a “broken, dearly loved daughter of God” – someone who needs grace, not judgment.”

Friends, how do you see your own brothers, your own sisters, your own neighbors, anyone God may invite into your life? As a pain in the neck? Or as someone very special to be welcome around your own table?


Hear the good news –Jesus sees you, and sees you as you are, and still he welcomes you with extravagant love.

As Rev. Hamilton has written in one of his inspiring Bible studies, “Jesus sees your pain, your brokenness, your hurts and heartaches and hang-ups. And he sees who you were meant to be. He sees you as a dearly loved child of God. And he says to you, as he did to [that woman in Simon’s courtyard] – your sins are forgiven, your faith has saved you, [now] go in peace.”

Brothers and sisters – party crashers or not — welcome to this holy meal of grain and grape and sinners and saints.