Fri Scripture - Luke 7:50 - Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Fri Quote - “The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace”
― Mother Teresa
Fri Thought -
As rich and complex as this weeks story is, touching upon sin, purity, hospitality, incarnation and atonement, Luke has a few more themes to pack into this last sentence of his story; faith, salvation and peace. Thats a lot to get through in one daily devotional. So lets get started by looking at a quote from N.T. Wright and then dig into our story.
N.T. Wright has this to say about salvation; “the work of salvation, in its full sense, is (1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us.”
When we look at this weeks story we see all three of Wright's points illustrated I believe. First, salvation is about whole human beings. Jesus forgives the woman her sins, so part of her salvation IS about her 'soul.' But that isn't all that is happening. This is a story that reveals the complexity of salvation. The woman is judged and shamed by the Pharisee and so her trust (faith) that the Pharisee's categorizing her as shameful is no longer powerful or authoritative, and instead, Jesus's acceptance of her as a part of his family, heals not only her soul, but her emotional life. She now know and believes in her value, that she is, despite sin, the good that God created her to be. And it is social. As I just said, she is no longer an outcast or outsider or reject. She is welcomed by Jesus, to the banquet table, to the feast. When we think back to other stories, and recall that Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, and cleansed the skin of lepers, and fed the hungry, salvation becomes a holistic experience of life in all its fullness. Which leads to Wright's second point.
Salvation is about the present, not merely the future. Salvation isn't something that the woman has to wait for after her physical death. Jesus proclaims her saved in that moment. Thinking back to some of the other things that Jesus has said about his life and mission, such as, 'I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly,' in John 10, or his description of rescue for the imprisoned, good news for the poor, healing for the blind, what Jesus is describing in not the promise of what will happen in the future, but a description of the impact of the God's reign in the present. Even in our story, the woman anoints Jesus's feet with myrrh, which is both a act of hospitality in the present, that is connected to the work Jesus will do in the future.
Which brings us to Wright's final point which is that salvation isn't only in and for us, but through us. And this is the part of the story that intrigues me most. Not only is God saving this woman through Jesus, but blessing, encouraging, uplifting Jesus, through the woman. Her act of hospitality, of washing Jesus feet and anointing him for crucifixion, as an act of honoring his life and his solidarity and sacrifice, is a gift to Jesus. Salvation is the mutual giving and receiving of that moment, Jesus giving the woman new hope and new life through acceptance, forgiveness and hospitality, the woman giving Jesus hope and life through gratitude, hospitality and honor. Each experience the abundance of life by sharing life with one another.
Which finally brings us to peace. Let's not forget that both the woman and Jesus are experiencing the painful and unsettling indignity of the Pharisees judgement and open lack of acceptance. But they give each other the gift of peace, of knowing love, appreciation and value, as they serve one another. The Pharisee's judgment has no power over either of them, as they practice the peace of being hospitable to one another. And this caring and serving is their salvation.
Fri Prayer - Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.