A former prostitute overwhelmed by the realization that God loved her exclaimed, “Jesus had a thing for hookers.”
Yes, yes he did. But in case you feel left out, he also had a thing for the broken, the poor, the downtrodden, outcasts, sick, demon possessed, and apparently the dead.
You can’t go around making statements like that if you cannot back them up. So here is a few:
Matthew, the tax collector
This man was hated.
Rome only tolerated the tax collectors because of the money, and we can be sure that no decent Jew would have anything to do with him.
Look at what the Pharisees inferred about him.
And having seen this, the Pharisees were saying to His disciples, For what reason with the tax collectors and men stained with such vices and crimes is your teacher eating? And having heard this, He said, No need do those have who are in sound health, of a doctor, but those who are ill; (Wuest’s translation of Matthew 9:9)
Jesus sought Matthew out, not the other way around. A social outcast in Jewish society, his only friends were those who did the same things.
The woman caught in adultery.
John 8:3-11 ISV But the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. After setting her before them, (4) they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. (5) Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death. What do you say?" (6) They said this to test him, so that they might have a charge against him. But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. (7) When they persisted in questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (8) Then he bent down again and continued writing on the ground. (9) When they heard this, they went away one by one, beginning with the oldest, and he was left alone with the woman standing there. (10) Then Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are your accusers? Hasn't anyone condemned you?" (11) She said, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "I don't condemn you either. Go home, and from now on do not sin any more."
Jesus did not just stumble upon this situation, they Pharisees, in an effort to trap, hunted this woman down and threw her at his feet. Any good Jew would have stoned her.
Does anyone else ever ask, what happened to the man? Women, unless they are hooking, do not, as a rule, pursue men, it is usually the other way around.
I want so much to believe that this might have been Mary Magdalene.
Try to imagine how she responded to Jesus actions toward her.
I know what religion has tried to teach me; that after demonstrating appropriate contrition of spirit, and an extended investment of time in the Word, she would have come to the full realization that she needed Jesus Christ. This would have led her to a place of public confession of her sins, allowing for the redeeming work of God, and over time she was changed into the perfect person that God intended.
Having never experience anyone or a love like that, she walked away changed. If it has never happened to you, you will never understand.
I can equate this a couple of ways. A book I read, titled “The Shack” was one that changed me, for I have never understood God to be so personal. I walked away from that book with an understanding of love for the Father, and Jesus, like I had never known before. Sure, I knew that God loved me, from a distance, but now I seemed to know that he cared. Another way I experienced this mercy and love is through the broken path my life has taken. I now understand mercy more than you will ever know.
No, that day she walked away different. She walked away with a longing for a relationship with the man who cared for her.
Could the world see a problem with a statement like that? Of course, and I can understand it. It is our broken nature that prevents us from seeing something like the depth of God’s love; our bodies and mind are incapable of grasping fully what his love is, and how he feels about us. Why do you think there are so many marital failures in the world. Unable to communicate with each other we confide in someone else. That seems ok at first, but then you feel so loved all of a sudden. Your appreciation turns to want and then what happens? In the world, the total destruction of a marital relationship.
Look at what the love of God can do to you, and for you.
Luke 7:36-50 NIV When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. (37) A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. (38) As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (39) When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner."
Let’s take a slight break in the passage. Simon (Peter) must have fancied himself a devout Jew. (Peter is a story all his own.) But in case Jesus was not paying attention to his surroundings Peter gives him the update. This woman touching you, (that should not have happened regardless) is a sinner!
I am laughing as I write this. How would Peter have known this?
Luke 7:40 NIV Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
Peter tried to straighten out God himself. Instead of chewing him out for his shallow, judgmental, stupidity, he tells him a story (a parable.) This may have been someone who Peter knew, therefore having an even bigger impact on Peter.
Luke 7:41-50 NIV "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. (42) Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" (43) Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. (44) Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. (45) You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. (46) You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
I know it is not important to you, but I have a t-shirt that says, “Actions speak louder than words!” There is a scriptural reference that eludes me right now, but it speaks volumes to me. People can say anything they want, and it can even sound heartfelt, but if you cannot produce then you need to go home. We used to be able to go to the local dairy and get a truck load of that. Your mouth is writing checks that it cannot cash.
This woman did not need anyone to tell her that. She, having been impacted by the loving God, and she is not even forgiven yet, is pouring out her heart in love toward someone who showed her a mercy she had never experienced in her life.
(47) Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." (48) Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." (49) The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" (50) Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
He knew what her sins were, it did not matter. He would have done it all, just for her. All that sarcasm I spouted on about meant nothing to Jesus. There were no hoops, just action. Jesus just got through explaining how it works to Peter. Now here she is, showing, anyway she knew how, that love in return.
I read a book called “Jesus the man” by Kahlil Gibran. I would not recommend it, but there was one thing that I took away from it, and that was Mary Magdalene’s description of Jesus, and his response to her.
She tells of how he came into her “garden” and sat upon her bench. Spying him through the window, she longed for him. He was, to her, a good-looking, muscular man. She described his face, and the relaxed, but far away look as he stared off into the distance.
She approached him and, like the others, invited him in. She knew what she would do with him, but Jesus was different, and he changed everything. He responded to her like no man had ever spoken. He said, “I have loved you like no man has ever loved you.” She said it was like he looked right through her. He seemed as though he knew my every thought, my every deed, and yet would disclose none of them. So vulnerable and yet so safe. Made speechless by his words she stood there. He on the other hand stood, clasped her hand with both of his; thanked her, and turning walked away. She was forever changed.
The man at the pool.
John 5:1-9 NIV Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. (2) Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. (3) Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. (5) One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" (7) "Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." (8) Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." (9) At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,
I suspect that this was not the first trip through this area for there is an amazing amount of information about the setting.
Of all the people there why this man? One of the things we know is that he was a Jew. How would we know that? Because, excited after being healed, he did not go home, he apparently decided to celebrate around the temple drawing the attention of the Jewish leadership. They are the one’s that said the law forbids you! They were not concerned with the nations and how they lived their lives, but they were concerned with a Jew that was breaking the law.
Did you ever think about that? This man laid there for years, and yet had a reasonable degree of clothing on.
What was it about him that said, “I am a Jew?”
There was only one significant indicator and that was the piece of cloth with the tassels that had the blue stripe in it. This is the same piece of clothing that David cut when Saul came into the cave of Adullam to relieve himself.
Someone must have shown some care for the man by the pool, but we can’t find them anywhere.
The story tells us that the entire area was filled with paralyzed and disabled. The NIV called him invalid. Did you ever stop to consider that the word invalid conveys the meaning of unsound. Everyone lying around the pool was unsound, if for no other reason, the lack of intimate relationship with the Father.
Another thing you should have picked up on.
John 5:6 NIV When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"
Two things strike me about this. Jesus took the time, to find out something about the man. He learned that he had been here a long time. Why was that important? Asking questions got those around him focused on the subject matter, and perhaps even why. The other thing I notice. Why of all these people, did he choose this man?
I suspect that Jesus, of all people, knew the man's history and ailments, but then Jesus freely gave up his place in heaven to be a man. Did that restrict his knowledge of what was going on? Not at all, but this should come as a relief, everything he did, he gained through the Holy Spirit, just as we can.
The Samaritan woman.
This story baffled me because I could not understand the vile hatred the Jews had for the Samaritans. After going into bondage, one of the kings holding them captive decides that leaving the land vacant is not the best idea, so he substitutes a people in the place of Israel. Samaria then becomes the capital city, and the priests this king brings in to lead the people, take them even deeper in the worship of false gods. The Jews despised them, partly because they were a mixed race, and yet they tried to act the pompous role.
John 4:7-9 NIV When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (8) (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (9) The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
She could not even come when the other women would come. She had been thrown out of their club, and openly talking to a man was forbidden for a decent woman.
How did she know he was a Jew? That same identifying garment that the man by the pool had on. She knew exactly what it meant.
What was result of her encounter?
John 4:39-43 NIV Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." (40) So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. (41) And because of his words many more became believers. (42) They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." (43) After the two days he left for Galilee.
She was the one who told Jesus, “I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” That does not mean that they would know him when he showed up, she just proved that.
How would anyone have known? Sure they had the prophecies, but that required you keeping them in your thinking, and then being on the look out for them to happen. Surely there was someone like that. Daniel was reading through a scroll of Jeremiah, when he realizes that Israel’s captivity is almost over. There is no happenstance, God had everything planned out.
Alright, you are paying attention, looking for the clues, but there were many boys born in Bethlehem that year. Herod knew that as well and had them all killed, and he widened the age range, just in case.
God knew he would have to make himself known. Who was he dealing with? The descendants of Adam, and Adam’s new and not so improved sin nature caused him to try to hide from God. Life between God and man would never be the same. There was only one way to fix it, and that was to restore the relationship by buying the man back. Yes, there is more to it than that, but you get the idea. God had to prove himself at every appearing since.
One of the first outlaw bikers.
Judges 11:1 NIV Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.
There are so many things that seem insignificant in the bible, and yet speak volumes to those paying attention. Jephthah made it into the book of Hebrews’ hall of fame. Merely recounting what he did would have, and should have inspired us all. But it is this phrase, “his mother was a prostitute” that will help to make him.
I called him the outlaw biker, but his life did not start that way, none of them do. They were all cute little babies that did not talk back or slap at you when you touched them. No, something had to make them turn.
One of my favorite old songs was one by Waylon Jennings, and it has a line in it that goes like this, “my heroes have always been cowboys.” Why do you suppose that is? Cowboys were good guys and bad. They could take a punch, or in the case of John Wayne, a bullet or two, and act like it was a scratch. They rescued or rustled, and some, when they got caught and hanged, would still spit at your feet in defiance. They were tough as nails, but they too were cute little babies at some point.
Jephthah was not the only son.
It says that Gilead’s wife, not the prostitute, also bore him more sons. In the chronology of this family it appears that Jephthah was the oldest son. The “legitimate” sons drove Jephthah out of the house. Think about that. Either Gilead hated Jephthah, possibly because there was always some embarrassment associated with who his mother was. Or he taught these other sons this hatred. It just occurred to me that Jephthah may not have grown up in the household directly. Wow, this could get deep, it is certainly getting uglier.
It is clear that Gilead had little control over how decently his other boys acted. The idealistic scenery of the Ponderosa ranch, and Ben Cartright, the patriarch of the family, raising three boys, as a single parent, into the fine men we watched for years on television, did not happen here.
There was some huge breakdown of family values going on here. But to give them the benefit of doubt, the nation was ravaged yearly.
Judges 10:6-8 NIV Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him, (7) he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, (8) who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites.
Jephthah is driven out.
Judges 11:3 NIV So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
What causes people to follow you?
For some it might be their eloquent manner of speech. I believe our current President is in office because he said the right things, in a convincing tone. He promised change. Do a little research into what the government plans on doing to it’s citizens and you will agree, change is coming. I do not believe that this was the case with Jephthah. Scoundrels are rarely interested in talk.
David, before he became king, had to flee for his life. As he was “hiding” men gathered to him also. What were they described as? The downtrodden, the poor, the oppressed, the divorced, the hungry, men angry with the government, and generally scoundrels.
Do scoundrels occasionally cause you grief? Absolutely, many have no concerns about democratic process, and you may be king as long as we don’t kill you. Having come back from a battle, where they served a mercenaries, they were all exhausted and hungry. What did they come home to? Nothing, for the town had been sacked and their families were gone. These scoundrels wanted to kill David, for what? It was not his fault.
These men gathered around Jephthah because he had become like them. One of the things that stands out in this story is that Jephthah learned what is was to be a Jew. He would not have been included with that hall of fame distinction if it were other wise. In an attempt to clarify what I am pointing out I will use a line from an old “BC”comic strip, by Johnny Hart. There were several of these in which the cave man would walk along the beach, look down at, or pick up a clam, and make a discovery. This excited so much that he would shout out, in case anyone could hear him. In one instance he shouts out, “clams have scruples!”Jephthah seemed to have scruples.
Living were they did, on the outskirts of town, they seemed to be less affected by the invaders that Israel suffered under. When the leadership of town finally had enough of the invasions they came to Jephthah.
Judges 11:7 NIV Jephthah said to them, "Didn't you hate me and drive me from my father's house? Why do you come to me now, when you're in trouble?"
These same brothers that threw him out were now the town leadership. Something is terribly wrong with that picture.
I love his response, “Why do you come to me now, when you are in trouble?” As though the trouble did not effect Jephthah. Of course it did, but then they may have just stolen it back.
Jephthah proposes a deal. If I fight for you, then I am in charge; meet my secretary of state! Jephthah did fight for Israel, and ruled over them. Did a fairly good job of it to, for he led Israel for six years.
I guess you can ascertain that Jephthah had the potential of being a real mess. He hung out with scoundrels, and may have been one himself, but God sees something else. God looks on the heart, and knows the character of the person, a thing that many others cannot see.
When you read a story like Jephthahs’ and the aspects that created are not clearly defined, then you have to step back and look at the bigger picture. People are not born killers. Yes, there is a sin nature in all of us, and only receiving Jesus Christ gives us the edge we need to not pursue our natures cataclysmic demise.
I know that there are people that will argue against that statement, so let me point something out. Noah is the example that Jesus gave of what it will be like in the end. Guess what, we are there.
Genesis 6:5 NIV The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:12-13 KJV And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. (13) And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
The bible is filled with incredible stories like this, history really. And God clearly had a heart for everyone of them. He chose to use them, taking the messy paths that their lives took them on, and made something good out of it. People that made marked differences in our lives. Chances are we would not be here if it were not for the Jephthahs’, the Jonahs’, and women like Mary Magdalene, for they showed us a God that cares and shows mercy beyond all expectation.
If you were to ask I would tell you to run to Him. He has always been ready to take you in, no matter where life has taken you. His name is Jesus Christ, the risen one.