Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

October 2009

What Jesus Doesn’t Think

An interesting thing occurred to me as I was meditating on the scene in which Jesus is a guest at the home of Simon the Pharisee, who seems at best rather lukewarm toward Jesus.  With the open door policy of those days, a “known bad character” (as N.T. Wright calls the “sinful woman”) comes in to anoint Jesus’ feet but becomes overwhelmed and bathes the first with tears and wipes them with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). Unlike many of us, Jesus speaks about the “elephant in the middle of the room” and addresses Simon’s thoughts about why Jesus shouldn’t let her do this.  “Do you see this woman?” Jesus said to Simon (and to me, except Jesus was pointing out someone in my life I’m annoyed with:  “Do you really see this person, Jan?”).  I entered the scene on many levels for several days and could not leave it.

 Finally, I was drawn to it again and found myself having fun as I came up with a Top Ten List of Things Jesus Wasn’t Thinking.  This was so fun I wish I could add it to chapter 7 of Savoring Godメs Word about meditating on gospel scenes. Here are a few of my ten: 

  • (I should explain that I don’t ascribe mean or nasty motives to Jesus.  I assume he embodied the love Paul talked about:  patient and kind, not pushy, not rude, not easily irritated, see 1 Cor. 13:4-8.)
  • Who does Simon think he is? Not having my feet washed - that’s the custom! (offended)
  • Here’s a Pharisee who’s not crazy about me... (on alert).
  • Who is this woman? Why do I attract these lunatic fringe people? (labeling her)
  • I know what Simon is thinking - what a judgmental guy!  (condemning)
  • I won’t speak up. I won’t make waves. I’m a nice guy (co-dependent).
  • I could say X!*? to Simon. That would shut him up  (pay back, plotting).
  • Pharisees: 5;  Jesus: 5, but I’ll win this one (competitive).
  • See how kind I am to this crazy woman and even to this jerk Pharisee (grandiose).

Then I wondered:  Why didn’t Jesus think any of these things? How did he do that?!  Here are my guesses.  First, he knew he was loved dearly and completely by God.  He was very secure.

Second, he lived with a certain posture. He knew he was being invited to dine by someone who didn’t think well of him, but before he went, he planned (and possibly prayed) to love the person in front of him:  Simon, Simon’s guests.  When our wild girl arrived, he loved this person too.  This was the posture of his life:  What does it look like to love this person in front of me?

 Jesus’ settled way of life was to consider how to love people—to do what’s best for them, to treat them with tenderness, to speak the truth in love to them. When I go into situations with that sort of prepared heart, I tend not to think those destructive thoughts in my list. But I need to pause before going into every situation to ask, What might it look like to love the person in front of me?  I need to do this before making phone calls to health care providers, before discussing problems with airline ticket agents, before team meetings, before saying hello to my neighbor whose dog barked for a long time the night before, and before asking someone I love why they did what they did. When I do this, love flows out of me without my even trying.  The Holy Spirit does this work:  When we do the connecting, God does the perfecting.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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