Jesus was invited to a dinner party hosted by a wealthy and influential religious leader named Simon. As was customary at the time, whenever you had someone well-known or ‘important’ for a meal, you wanted to make sure as many people as possible knew about it and witnessed it. The dinner was often as much to honor the host as it was to honor the guest.
Jesus would have been seated next to the host as the guest of honor with other guests reclining around the table. Curious on-lookers were often allowed into the courtyard of the home to gaze on the scene. They weren’t actually invited to the table, just to the spectacle. It was all, of course, meant to boost the image of the host.
But there was a party-pooper in the crowd that night, and she stole Simon’s glory with an act so brazen it shocked everyone at the table.
Everyone but Jesus.
This woman — whose tarnished reputation was well-known — had the audacity to approach Jesus and kiss his feet repeatedly while washing them with her tears and drying them with her uncovered hair. What a spectacle! The on-lookers got quite a show that night! The pathetic became wasteful as she poured perfume on Jesus’ feet, drawing complaints from those who thought the perfume could have been used for other more profitable purposes.
The host, of course, was mortified that this woman would dare come close. She was supposed to keep her distance. Jesus had a classic response, and you can read about it here: Luke 7:36-50.
Jesus welcomes the weak, and I’m so glad he does.
We hate feeling weak and fragile, don’t we? But here’s something to consider: fragile things are valuable things. We treat fragile items with more care because their value is in their fragility. Life drains us. It leaves us weak, tired, wasted, and empty. But it’s in our weakness we see things for what they really are: we need Jesus. We don’t really have anything to bring to the table, so when we come to Jesus, we need to come empty.
When I read Matthew 11:25-30, I learn two things:
1] Jesus comes to the weak. He calls the weak ‘poor in spirit’, those who struggle with an internal poverty. The big shots of the world cannot understand the Gospel because they are too caught up in themselves and their success and are consequentially blind to their real need. God has chosen to reveal himself to those from humble circumstances, like children for example. He comes to us as a Father to his kids.
2] The weak can come to Jesus. He welcomes people like you and me. He welcomes the weary, those depleted by the world — the tired, the worn-out, the exhausted, the drained. He welcomes the burdened — the anxious, the overwhelmed, the poor, the oppressed, the afraid, those who feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Back to the dinner table…
Simon didn’t get it. He was powerful and wealthy and only seemed interested in what he could gain from the meal. He wanted to make an impression. He wanted anything that would give him advantage over others. He wanted to use Jesus. And he wanted to get rid of this woman.
But we can’t come to Jesus unless we come empty.
When we feel empty and depleted, remember that we are following the One who emptied himself so that we could find rest for our souls.
You can come to the One who came close to us.
But come empty.