Her name was Rachel and I first met her at one of our large group meetings for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. The next day we ran into each other in one of the cafeterias and she asked if she could sit and eat with me. I said of course and while we ate we had one of the most frustrating conversations I can remember having. Rachel was somewhat scattered in her thinking and a bit of an air head and I remember thinking to myself – I hope I never have to eat lunch with her again. I judged Rachel on her voice, her personality and our one and only conversation. I kind of dismissed her because of that one encounter.
Rachel and I had mutual friends so we ended up eating together and seeing each other more and then she moved in with a friend of mine who lived in the same dorm I did so I saw her often. What I was getting was a second chance to see Rachel for who she really was which was a warm, funny, loving person who became one of my best friends in college. I got a second chance to see someone for who they really were and I am thankful that God gives us all a second chance to see – to see people the way God sees people.
If there is one second chance we all need to grab hold of today, it is this one. We have created a culture where we are quick to judge people and quick to dismiss people. We see a picture on Facebook or Instagram and make a judgement about who this person is and how they live their life. If we don’t like how they are dressed or what their hair looks like we put them down. Parents are judged because of what they feed their children or how they discipline them. We judge and condemn people when we don’t get our own way or feel slighted by them. We judge, condemn and dismiss others because their political views are different than ours. Politics has become so divisive that if someone comes out in favor of one political candidate or another – they will be condemned by those who disagree with them. There is no discourse or discussion just derision and destruction. We all need to take the second chance God gives us to see – to see ourselves and to see others the way God does.
In Luke 7 we see how Jesus gives this second chance to two very different people. Luke 7:36-50
Luke does not tell us who this sinful woman is or what her sin is but chances are good that she was a prostitute. She could have ended up where she was because of a divorce. We heard a few weeks ago how divorce in Jesus’ day often left woman destitute and if their family didn’t take them back or if another man would not marry them they were often forced into a life of prostitution to survive. One of the big reasons Jesus spoke out against divorce was because of the tragic impact it had upon women.
This woman might have also been a widow who was forced into poverty. Her poverty and debt may have meant that she had been sold into slavery. She could have been abused or taken advantage of by others to the point where she had no choice but to live a sinful life, but it’s clear that she has no family and no one to care for her. Her life has also forced her far from God. She would not have been welcomed in the temple or synagogue and would not have been welcomed in very many homes where love and faith were shared, so when she hears that Jesus is in town and eating dinner at this man’s house she is so desperate for love and grace and life that she walks into the leader’s home and weeps at Jesus feet and anoints him with her tears and a gift of perfume.
This woman sees herself full of sin and shame. She weeps and begs for forgiveness. She wants to be accepted and lifted up from the life she has been living and with no one else to help her and nowhere else to turn, she comes to Jesus and Jesus gives her a second chance to see herself as a child of God. At the end of the encounter Jesus says to her, Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.
Jesus has given her a second chance to see herself differently, to see herself the way God sees her. She is forgiven. She is a woman of faith who has been given the gift of salvation and life and she is able to experience peace, both a peace with God but also a peace in her own heart and spirit and life. Shame has given way to salvation, failure to faith and pain to peace. This is the second chance we all get to see ourselves differently.
If we see ourselves far from God or full of shame because of the choices we have made or the circumstances of our life – we can come to Jesus and get a second chance. The second chance may not immediately change our circumstance – but it changes our identity and helps us see ourselves as valuable, loved and honored children of God and this new vision can open doors and heal relationships and lead us into a new life.
But this woman isn’t the only one who got a second chance to see – so does Simon. When this woman entered Simon’s home, he not only saw a sinner but he saw a problem. Would people think that she often just came into his house and made herself at home? Would people now associate her lifestyle with him? What would this do to his reputation for purity? Pharisees were religious leaders who tried to live a sinless life and follow every law given by God. They worked hard to keep themselves from anything that might even appear to be sinful and this sinful woman has just invaded his home. All he sees is a sinner and problem and he not only judges her but he judges Jesus for allowing her to touch him.
Simon has seen the outer shell of this woman’s life and been quick to judge, but Jesus gave him a second chance to really see her. In Luke 7:44 Jesus turns to Simon and says, Do you see this woman? Well of course he has seen her. He was muttering to himself loud enough for others to hear and he was condemning her for her life and actions. Jesus knows that he has seen her but he gives Simon another chance to really see her – to see beneath the surface of her life and to look at her through the eyes of God. Jesus wants Simon to see her as a woman worthy of forgiveness and grace and a woman who understands and follows this heart of God’s law.
It was this woman who not only gave Jesus the gift of perfume for his feet but she was the one who gave Jesus the gift of hospitality. She was the one who washed Jesus’ feet and greeted him with kiss. She was the one who followed the law and welcomed and loved Jesus and he honors her for actions. Jesus is giving Simon another chance to see this woman for who she really is – a child of God and a woman to be honored for her faith and heart.
This is the second chance God gives all of us and this is the second chance all of us need to take. We need to start looking at people the way God does and see children of God who at times are hurting, at times are hungry, at times are broken and difficult and at times in need of forgiveness, grace and love but at all times in need of being seen as honored and valued by God. Bullying in school, at work and in the community would come to an end if we would take a second look at people and see the value and dignity that all people have. Racism and sexism and all the isms that divide us and make our society hostile would come to an end if we would take a second look at people. Our political conversations would be healed if we would take a second look at people and see friends and neighbors and colleagues instead of enemies.
This week we were able to see an example of this kind of vision in, of all places, the US Senate. During a confirmation vote for the Secretary of State in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one democratic senator was willing to take his vote away because a republican senator on the committee could not be at the meeting because he was giving the eulogy for his best friend back home. Instead of worrying about keeping up the partisan divide of our nation, Senator Coons, a Democrat of NJ, looked at Senator Issakson, a Republican from GA, as a friend and was willing to do the right thing. He had a second chance to see and he took it.
We have so many second chances to see people differently if we would just take them. Our anger with others might be an opportunity to see people in a new way. Instead of seeing problem people, can we see sisters and brothers that need love and support? There are organizations that work with people the world might see as problems and therefore try to avoid or dismiss but they see them productive people who can make a difference. These organizations give people a second chance because they see the dignity, value and worth in all people. Through these organizations we get a second chance to see people differently and we need to take it.
One organization I recently heard about is thistle farms. Thistle Farms hires women who have come out of sex trafficking, addictions and prostitution and not only gives them a job but a place to live, health care and mentors who help them move forward in life. The way thistle farms sees people is the way we all need to see people. Thistle Farms Introduction Video
For us to be able to see people the way God does, some of us have to take a hard second look at our own life. For some of us, the second chance to see ourselves the way God does means being humbled. Simon was given a second chance to see that his own heart was filled with pride and self-righteousness.
Jesus pointed out that Simon had not offered Jesus any kind of hospitality when he arrived at his home. For a man who prided himself on following all the laws given by God, he had failed to follow through on some of the most basic and simple laws God had given. Jesus was helping Simon see himself more clearly and there are times we need to look at our own hearts and see the pride and self-righteousness that keeps us from seeing others with dignity. We need a second chance to be humbled so that we can see others with honor. God gives us this second chance. Jesus not only loved the woman and gave her a second chance to see herself in a way that changed her life but he loved Simon too and so he gave him a second chance to see himself in a way that would improve his life. Jesus wanted more from Simon and Jesus wants more from us.
Today we are all given a second chance to see. We are given a chance to see ourselves with humility and honesty so that we can be more faithful and loving. We are given a second chance to see ourselves with dignity and value no matter how we may have failed in the past. And we are given a second chance to see others the way God does – not as failures to be dismissed and not as sinners to be avoided and not as problems to be passed along but as children of God who have dignity, value and worth. We have a second chance to see people the way God sees people and to reach out to them the way God does – with a grace that forgives and a love that supports and moves people forward.
This is the second chance that if we all took – our families, schools, churches, communities, nation and world would be a much healthier and happier place to live. This is the second chance that if we all took our world would look a lot more like the kingdom of God.
A Second Chance to See
1. When have you failed to see the dignity, value and worth in another person? How did this vision lead you to judge them, condemn them or dismiss them?
2. When have you failed to see the dignity, value and worth in yourself? How did this vision lead you to judge and condemn yourself?
3. Jesus gives us a second chance to see ourselves the way God does.
• Where do we need to look at ourselves with humility?
• Where do we need to look at ourselves with honor?
• Name three positive things God sees in you.
4. Jesus gives us a second chance to see others the way God does.
• Pray for eyes to see others the way God does.
• Who do you know that might need the encouragement of knowing God loves and honors them?
• How can you share God’s love with them this week?
5. Many organizations work to help us see others the way God does. Shop and or support these organizations:
• Thistle Farms – thistlefarms.org
• Sseko – ssekodesigns.com or contact Tirzah Gibboney
• Preemptive Love – preemptivelove.org
• Bridge of Hope – centre.bridgeofhopeinc.org or contact Sally Best