Monday, March 7, 2011

Luke 7: John the Advance Man

My friend Mark was an "advance man" for a presidential campaign. His visited every whistle stop ahead of time to arrange the accommodations, prep the faithful, alert the media and in every conceivable way and in the fullness of time make the candidate look as good as possible. By that time, though, Mark would be on to the next town. If you were someone who needed kudos and visual gratification, it wasn't the right job.

Luke explicitly praises John the Baptist's "advance work" in vss. 29-30: "all the people, even the Democrats (the Greek word actually means "tax collectors"), when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John [italics mine]. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John."

I am the advance man of the Holy Spirit, or at least am called to be. My Spirit-led prayers, acts of sacrificial love, and testimony prepare "even the tax collectors" of my life to believe His message. As in Capernaum, not everyone who encounters the gospel will play childish games with it.

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In Luke 7:44, Jesus tells Simon the inhospitable Pharisee why he appreciates the woman wiping his feet with her hair. Apart from the powerful message of grace, this story exemplifies the feminine narrative threading through Luke. Not only is the "star" a woman, but the setting is described with such drama and emotion that, well, it sounds like a woman said it. Sorry for the sexism, but there it is. Had it been told by a guy, it might read like "Jesus and the disciples and their host Simon reclined at table and enjoyed a wonderful meal of bread, lamb (nice and crispy), olive oil flavored just right, and a great bottle of way, and all the time Jesus taught us, his special friends.......oh, and some strange woman came and went, too."

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