I remember the day I invited Jesus to dinner just as if it were yesterday. For a long time I thought I might never forget the shame I experienced that night, but His love has overridden those feelings.
Oh, how I was longing for freedom. To be free from the confines of the Box of Rules I lived in. Most people didn’t understand how I lived at that address for so many years. But I didn’t know any other way then.
The Rules couldn’t settle and bring peace to my heart. The Rules, they never made me laugh. I rarely smiled and wasn’t even sure if I knew what it meant to be happy. Genuinely, joyfully happy! Like she was. The Rules constrained me, not to mention the stiff upper lips of all the other Pharisees who lived at the same address.
I can’t speak for them though. I can and will only speak for myself.
As much as I was constrained by rules, the power of love compelled me that day I invited Jesus to dinner. As soon as my lips issued the invitation, my mind went into top gear to create the perfect dinner reception.
I wanted it to be a memorable occasion. You see, my heart was screaming “freedom” from inside the Box of Rules. I had seen the miracles happen at the hand of Jesus and I couldn’t stand the Box anymore.
I had watched as Jesus spat on the dirt and rolled it into a patty of mud between those strong, brown hands of His. I could hardly believe my own eyes when I saw Him pat the patty on the blind man’s eyes and tell him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
The blind man, well he made his way to the pool and then he went home seeing for the first time in his life.
It was the Centurion’s story that touched my heart in a way I didn’t understand.
His servant was very ill and the Centurion very calmly told Jesus all He needs to do was speak the word and he knew his servant would be healed. The Centurion’s faith impressed Jesus. I was impressed when I heard the servant became well that very hour.
So, I invited Jesus to dinner in response to an irresistible urging in my heart. I wanted to talk to Him, really talk to Him, man to man. I felt that He could help me to break free from the Box of Rules. I didn’t want to live there anymore but had no idea how to leave.
I wanted; no, I craved inner freedom. I longed to break open the rigid exterior that was mine. See, it’s not just a bad reputation that tells everyone you’re living a sinful life.
When you’re a Pharisee though, and you are living your life from inside the Box of Rules, it’s easy to point fingers. It’s easy to judge others as lesser when the outside part of your own life looks good.
What I did that night I will never forget. To my shame, I was so ruled by tradition; I completely neglected extending courtesies common to the day. Why, I didn’t even have water to wash the dusty feet of Jesus, and I was too uptight to greet Him with a kiss. My self-consciousness always ruled over my emotions and it seemed I could never express what was in my heart.
My dinner party seemed perfect. The guests were there, the food was superb and Jesus looked like He was enjoying Himself. Then, she came. She came unannounced and uninvited. She crashed my party.
Little did I know but she was the one who showed me how to enter into the fullness of joy.
She came with her bad reputation, her alabaster jar filled with beautiful perfume. Her presence filled the atmosphere and I watched, aghast as she poured out the perfume on His feet. She wept. She wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair. Tender love in every action. Oh, I hated to think of how she learned to have no consciousness of self.
As much as I hated her freedom and show of love right here in my house, at my dinner party, her actions highlighted the desire in my heart to break out from this house of rules, religion and tradition.
What did I do? In all my prickliness, I called attention to her lifestyle. As if, Jesus didn’t already know! Then, He called attention to mine.
To the very thing, I wanted to be free from. Freedom from self-consciousness. Freedom from the rules that kept my heart bound up in a tight, cold, hard ball, tucked away in the darkest corner of the Box.
I wanted to break free and be as unabashed in the sharing of my love for Jesus as she was. We came from two opposite worlds but I saw that day, we were the same as we lived our lives of sin. It didn’t matter that our sin was manifest in different ways. We were sinners and Jesus had as much power to forgive our sin and change our hearts as He had the power to heal.
She and the other guests left, it was just Jesus and me. He heard the silent screams of my heart and understood the unspoken longing.
Just one touch is all it took. One fiery touch, hot liquid lovelava coursed through my veins. Melted the ice around my heart, wiped away the cold inner veneer. I became conscious only of Him. I could feel His gaze piercing my heart and soul as He searched the deepest and darkest places in me.
My dinner party? Well, it became a private search and rescue party. That night, even though I was too self-conscious to give Jesus a simple kiss, that night, He rescued me, unlocked me from the Box of Rules.
Healing ran through my body. His words renewed my mind. I knew I was free. I was as free as she was. I was free to love Jesus and I knew He would help me learn to express my heart for Him.
I had a picture in my mind and I could feel it too. His hands lifted the corners of the Box of Rules. Light entered. The ropes of religion, tradition and rules were keeping me bound. One knot after another, Jesus untied. I could feel every place His fingers touched me as He untied the rope. I stood unbound and free, a pile of tangled rope at my feet when Jesus gave me His hand. Oh, yes, I quivered as I thought about the mud, the power in His touch and spoken word.
I thought about my heart, about her heart. You see, just looking at me, you might not have guessed, but I was as much in need of salvation and freedom as she was!
Just goes to show you, we never can tell the condition of someone else’s heart just by looking at them.
I was never the same after that night. I moved to a different address and made it a point to open my home to people from all occupations. I embrace them, speak words of graciousness and I have learned to look beyond, far beyond myself. It is with joy I anticipate and prepare for the needs of others so I am ready to meet whatever need may arise.
I have learned to untie knots, unwrap grave cloths. I have learned to allow the healing power of Jesus to flow through me as I surrender to Him. I know it is He who touches you through me.
Surrendering to the power and authority of His Word has freed me to become like Him. In Him, I have incredible freedom and joy unspeakable, uncontainable! She, who was a woman of shame, introduced me to freedom, love, joy and peace. Who would have thought!
I would love to meet you there, kneeling at His feet.