Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. He was a peanut farmer from Georgia, and he tried to be a little folksy relating to the common man. I remember a few details of his trip to California where he wanted to stay in a private home instead of a fancy hotel. [This blog is not about Jimmy Carter, please read to the end!]
One problem, he was the president of the United States and everywhere he went, he was shadowed by the Secret Service. Weeks before the visit, the Secret Service swooped in to make sure everything was safe and secure. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember they installed several secure telephone lines and hardened up the security.
On the surface it sounds cool for the president to stay with you, but it is not like the president can just show up with a suitcase in hand. Things must change when the King comes to stay.
One day when Jesus, the Son of God was journeying near Jericho, there was a despised tax collector who wanted a closer look at Jesus. He climbed up a sycamore tree to get a better view because he was a short man. Zacchaeus received more than a grandstand view; he got a visit from the King. Jesus told him “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5 NKJV).
Coming down the tree, Zacchaeus had a heart change, he was ready to restore the money he had swindled from his tax base. When the King goes home with us, things change. Ole Zacchaeus changed. Jesus wants us to be more than merely informed about Him, He desires for us to be reformed into His likeness.
Then there was another tax collector by the name of Matthew (also called Levi). Jesus called him out of his tax office with a simple invitation, “Follow Me” (Matthew 5:27 NKJV).
Matthew left his tax business and followed Jesus. It is interesting that as he began his journey following Jesus, the first place he followed Jesus, was to his own home. He prepared a great feast for Jesus with many other tax collectors in attendance. This is another instance of the King moving in.
He often moves in with the unlikely ones as these two despised tax collectors. When the scribes and Pharisees complained about His wicked company at Matthew’s house, He answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” Luke 5:31-32 NKJV).
When the King moves in, He cleans house and rearranges things.
Let’s take another visit. Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to a dinner party but with a different idea. He was not interested in following Jesus but probably had another motivation.
Perhaps Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus with an agenda. Present day rich people pay $5,000 to as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars for a place at a political fundraiser dinner so they can rub elbows with a famous politician. Maybe that is what Simon did. Perhaps he invited Jesus to be a famous spectacle for his fellow Pharisee guests.
I can hear him telling a friend, “Hey, I have that famous prophet, Jesus of Nazareth coming over on Friday night. You can come over and get a close-up look. Interested? Ask Him any questions you want.”
Simon’s party did not go as planned. He had a party-crasher come to his dinner. The woman who came uninvited must have had quite the reputation around town. She was known as a sinner. We do not know her specific sins but it sounds like she may have been a prostitute.
As the diners were reclined as was their custom, this woman came in and was weeping in Jesus’ presence. She was standing behind Him at his feet crying. The woman washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She anointed his feet with the fragrant oil from an alabaster flask.
Simon was appalled at the sight and thought, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39 NKJV).
Jesus gave Simon a lesson on who loves more—the one who is forgiven more.
Strange paradox, the one who provided the expensive meal and invited Jesus for a visit was not the true worshipper. The uninvited sinner in the town was the adoring worshipper of the King.
Instead of asking questions, Ole Simon received some questions from Jesus.
“Why didn’t you give me some water to wash my feet? This woman whom you despise, has washed my feet with her tears” [paraphrase]. The sadness of her sin when in the presence of Jesus brought tears to her eyes but forgiveness and healing to her soul. Simon was a haughty Pharisee; she was a humble, repentant sinner, now forgiven and whole.
“Why didn’t you greet me with at least a kiss of brotherhood” [paraphrase]? She kissed the feet of Jesus with the beauty of worship and adoration for her Lord and Savior.”
“Why did you not anoint my head with the oil of anointing, is it because you do not recognize Me as King? She anointed His feet with fragrant oil as the One and Only Anointed One” [paraphrase].
The King was invited to Simon the Pharisee’s house for the wrong reason. The uninvited woman became the special guest in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus only visited Simon’s house but moved into the heart of the woman. She was forgiven of her many sins. She worshipped much.
What happens when the King moves in?
When I accepted Jesus into my life, He invited Himself over to my house. He didn’t rearrange the house, he rearranged me. He started the process of cleaning out the closets and drawers of my heart where I had hoarded my stuff. He said, “You don’t need that. My disciples don’t wear that.” He opened up a box, looked at me and said, “Really!!”
Then He got very personable. He said He didn’t like the way I was talking to my wife. The kids needed more of my attention. Could you believe it? He actually wanted me to be nice to my neighbors.
He wanted me to live more modestly so I could give more to those who needed it. He told me the tithe was good, but he wanted access to all I had. He asked for my keys. I handed them to Him, He held them up looking at them and asked, “Which one of the these can I not have?”
Then, He wanted me to turn off the television and read the Bible more. Jesus wanted to know why I didn’t pray more. He even wanted me to thin out my closet. Wow!
One day He looked around in my house and said, “You know, you are not going to live here forever!” I said, “You mean after all this, you want us to move?” “No”, he said, “One day you are going to die and leave this place to someone else!” “What?”
I answered, “I thought when you came into my life it was to make my life better.” He said, “Who told you that? I came into your life to make YOU better but first you must die to yourself. If you are better, your life will be better. From now on, it is My agenda, not yours!”
He looked at me and said, “I worked for a while as a carpenter, but I am not much into house improvement. My greatest work is in death and resurrection. If you die to yourself and the world, I will resurrect you to something the world could never make you.”
“I called you like you were, but I love you too much to leave you like you are.”
With that, He opened up the door to leave. I thought, I may have made Him mad, but He stopped looked back and said, “Aren’t you coming? Come on, follow me!”
With tears in my eyes, I fell at His feet and kissed His sandaled feet and off we went.
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt
Matthew 16:24-26 NKJV
(24) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
(25) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
(26) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?