Thursday, January 29, 2009

Broken Bible Stories: The Master and the Street Walker (Luke 7:26-50)

The master was scheduled to speak that day. It was all the buzz in Sunday School that morning. They must be doing something right for Him to choose their church among all the churches in the world! None of the teachers felt good about their lessons that day. How could anyone teach something worth listening to, when the sermon was going to come from Jesus Himself? To be honest no one listened anyway. They were all too busy mentally questioning themselves in preparation for the service. “Is my tie on straight?” “Are there any wrinkles in my dress?” Most were also busy practicing their “Holy” facial expressions.

Surprisingly, the music did not go well for “The Master’s Service” that day. The instrumentalists were so nervous about messing up that some didn’t even play, and those that did played much quieter than usual. The congregation was much the same. The only ones singing were those that were particularly proud of their voices, and even they weren’t as loud as usual. However, you couldn’t have guessed, because they were all sure to mouth the words.

It goes without saying that the offering that day was the best the church had ever seen. People had been saving up all week in order to give a lot, and many had borrowed money for that service. No one used envelopes.

Finally, the much-anticipated moment arrived. The pastor got up to introduce the guest speaker for the day, but his introduction threatened to be longer, than any of his sermons had ever been. Most of the people were looking at him as if they were trying to burn him up with their stare. Didn’t he know he was rambling on and on when everyone was waiting to hear the real deal? He finally came to his senses and cut his remarks short when the music minister cleared his throat for the third time.

As Jesus rose to the podium, you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was preparing themselves to sit up straight, stay awake, and take notes for the first time in their lives. Just then, as Jesus was about to open His mouth, the door in the back opened. A woman entered, timidly, but with resolve. She squared her shoulders, fixed her eyes on Jesus, and walked up the center aisle.

As she came forward a wave of reaction followed her up the sanctuary. She was dressed in the shortest skirt, the loosest top, and the trashiest underwear (most of which was visible) they had ever seen in person. Sure, in the movies and on TV they had seen enough of her type to know her right away. She was a street walker, probably straight from the street where she had worked the night before. The whispers followed her all the way to the very front. She sat right on the pew everyone knew you never sat on.

Jesus had waited in silence until she was seated. Everyone braced themselves for the words of rebuke that were sure to follow. Some even began turning to the passage that tells women to dress modestly, anticipating Jesus’ next words. Instead, He merely smiled at her and began, “Good morning, may I ask you to turn with me to…”

“Excuse me, Jesus?” No one later could recall who had interrupted the Master. “Jesus, I must apologize, Lord, that You would have to see this unfortunate um, occurrence, Father. We have never seen this woman before, and I’m not sure if you are aware of whom she is, Lord. I’m sorry. We really should have had someone at the doors. It’s just that no one wanted to miss out being in the service today.”

Jesus closed His Bible, and held up His hand. In a soft yet commanding voice he spoke. “Peace. Hear the word I have for this church today. Who loves me more? They who think my presence is evidence they are a great church, or the one who knows they have sinned and I am willing to forgive?

“This woman has come to hear me. The rest of you have merely come to be a part of what you think makes you look good.” Turning to the woman on the front row he said, “Dearest, you are forgiven.” Then He was gone.

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