Jesus was just so extra!!!
There’s this guy who everybody wanted to be associated with. The guy had power, money, connections, popularity, and he even seemed to have God in his pocket since the guy also happened to be a religious leader. In a Theocracy, that makes him some kind of preacher/politician/lawyer/judge hybrid.
I wonder what his disciples were thinking when when this guy invited Jesus to eat over at his house with all the “somebodies” in society and Jesus accepted. Maybe they waited until this guy was out of earshot and turned to give Jesus a high-five on his big score only to see that he’d already moved on, completely unaffected and was talking to some kid as though nothing important had just happened. I’m sure His disciples were quickly becoming acquainted with the gaping-mouthed expression of incredulity.
Fast forward. Food day arrives and everybody comes wearing their Sabbath-best while Jesus comes dressed wearing his everyday get-up. Seriously???!!!! Jesus doesn’t acknowledge their gaping mouths. He knew that this guy and his cronies were about to try to play Him. Jesus was famous in his own right by now so these guys clearly had their own agenda to use Jesus’ connection with the people to get more of whatever they already had. That’s politics. But Jesus wasn’t like anybody; I mean ANYBODY. That’s really the only reason why this Pharisee decides to have anything to do with this Jesus guy. He was just another business/political contact that rich guys are so fond of.
But this Pharisee wants Jesus to “know His place” so he directs his servants to leave His sandaled feet all crusty. Jesus doesn’t comment, but He gets the message. He sends a message of His own back. He goes and has a seat…without washing His hands. *gasp*
So, about that…Jesus might have washed up, but there was a special kind of washing that these guys wanted from Him. They used to keep these big clay rain-barrels out back to catch rainwater used specifically for religious practices. These “important” religious dudes would dribble this water over their hands palm-down, and dribble over their hands palm-up and then say they’re clean. Silly boys. They didn’t use any soap or scrub for the proper 30 seconds. Well, it turns out that they weren’t really trying to get clean anyway. They just liked making up extra rules for people so that they could look better than others. It was how they kept their place in society; you know, that thing people do when they constantly change the social standards and expectations so others can feel small...Yeah, that was these dudes.
So, while those dudes had been washing, probably intending to put Jesus in the back of the line, Jesus plops his butt down, rolls up his sleeves, and says, “Smells good. What’s for dinner.” (Well, that’s my creative rendition of the story, but you get the point). Every head turns toward him while they struggle to keep their composure from their places in the hand washing line. They start whispering, “OMG!!! Did you see what He just did?!!! It’s like the dude was born in a stable or something!!!”
Jesus smiles a little knowing smile to himself as He reads the thoughts of every man there, “Hmmm….I wonder….” He muses loud enough for them to hear. “I wonder if you cleaned your dishes like you clean yourselves. If you just washed the outside of them, would you want to eat on them?” He had their attention and they all suspected they’d just been insulted but there was still that thing in their heads that said that no one would dare insult them. Had someone whispered too loudly? They make their way over and everybody sat down. He continued, “You’re all just like a bunch of tombs that are painted pretty on the outside, but if you get a chance to peek inside, you’ll be overwhelmed by the smell of death and rot. You’re a bunch of pitvipers. Anyone so unfortunate to unsuspectingly fall in with y’all is not gonna come out alive.”
By now they’re coming to terms with the possibility that this guy might actually not be joking and could actually be insulting them for real. Random important dude raises his hand, “Um, Jesus, do you realize that your words sound like you’re actually trying to insult us?”
Jesus continues, “Let me be a little more clear for you all. You all seek high and wide for one convert and when you find one, you make them twice the son of the devil as you are. You people have been entrusted with the precious knowledge of eternal life and have been given the honor to show others how to have it, but instead of using this knowledge and accepting it as the priceless bountiful treasure that it is, it becomes ‘your precious’ and, like Gollum as the ring-bearer you let the power that comes from being in possession of it corrupt your soul. You prefer power instead of the life and you make sure nobody else gets that life so that you can retain your ‘precious’ power by exclusively possessing the treasure that was meant to bring life instead of the death you offer..” Mouths still gaping.
Jesus drops the mic and walks out. The Pharisee’s house explodes with indignant conversations and some even followed Jesus outside continuing to question Him hoping to make him look foolish. It was they who looked foolish instead. Those men collectively found a new purpose that night. They were going to find a way to kill Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was just too EXTRA.
*Retold from Luke 11:37-53
I don’t get tired of this story. How many times did I sit in church and leave feeling used and broken and filthy and not good enough? Yet Jesus waved me over and said, “Hey, come eat with me.”
I sheepishly reveal my unwashed hands. He laughs and shows His own looking just like mine and says, “But not to worry, I have a special menu that will make you clean on the inside. Don’t worry about your hands; the food will clean you anyway.” He waves me over again with his dirty hand.
I look at the special food on that table and how the table has been set with care. It is truly a feast. I say, “I didn’t dress for such a special occasion.”
He laughs again and stands from the table where he’s been sitting. I see the remains of sawdust still clinging to Him. He came in His work clothes.
I warm inside as He approaches me and He takes my dirty hand in His own and leads me to the fancy table. I sit as prim and proper as I can and unfold my napkin to drape across my lap. I’m trying to determine which is the salad fork and which is the dinner fork when I look up to see what fork Jesus used. He has his bread in His fingers sopping up the stew in front of Him with His elbow on the table. Something inside of me overflows and whatever that is starts leaking out my eyes. I attempt to discretely brush away a tear, but His hand is already on my face. He tips up my chin and waits until my averted gaze reaches His own. I have never seen eyes like that. He sees me. He sees me to the core of who I am, even the icky parts, and yet all that is reflected in His expression is a deep kindness and even deeper love. I think He will brush away my tears, but He doesn’t. He leaves them there, smiles deep into me and says, “That’s my daughter. Those tears are real. They are you. Don’t hide you. If being authentically you right now means having wet cheeks, wear your tears as a badge of authenticity. No composure. Never composure. Only authenticity.”
Within minutes my tears have either dried or seasoned my food and the two of us are deep in conversation, neither of us noticing that we’re talking with food in our mouths. We’re laughing together and I’m not even noticing that my napkin has fallen to the floor and I’m sopping up my bread in His stew bowl and my elbow is on the table just like His. If I could see inside myself, I’d know that I no-longer questioned whether or not I belonged sitting there with Him chewing with our mouths open because no other place could feel like home again. I’d been cleaned as He promised, but it wasn’t from the stew. It was the nourishment of Him that cleaned my soul.