I have two friends with whom I feel very close. For some reason, one of them feels that he can only tell me the positive things that are happening in his life and ministry whereas the other feels secure enough in our friendship to tell me about the good, the bad and the ugly that is going on in his life and ministry.
When we see each other, which is not often because all of us are too busy, I feel totally free to talk about my life and ministry to both of them, warts and all. However, the response is different from them. The friend who is comfortable with the idea that I know him as he is, is totally relaxed and comfortable. He is sure of our friendship.
The other friend, however, the one who is not comfortable with me knowing his mistakes or failings, acts insecure and afraid about what I might know, especially if it is going to affect my opinion of him.
The Pharisees were without a doubt, the most respected people in their society. We tend to have an image of them that is nothing like the one their contemporaries had; they considered the Pharisees to be holy, wise and closer to God than the rest of the mere mortals.
But the Pharisees worried about appearances, about their image, about their “good testimony”, while Jesus, with all the love He felt for them, wanted them to get rid of their obsession with maintaining a good “front” that only distanced them and isolated them from the rest of the people.1
There were other people, outcasts, that did not care about what others thought. They just wanted to get close to Jesus. One was the woman with the issue of blood.2 According to the law of Moses, she was “unclean”.3 Everyone who touched her, and everything she touched became unclean. On top of her disadvantages, she was a woman, and a sick woman at that. But she did not care. She pushed past everyone who got in her way without worrying about the consequences. This “loser” got to touch Jesus and received healing.
Zacchaeus left his business and ran to climb a tree from where he could see Jesus. He ran the risk that others would mock him, making fun of his small stature. He did not worry about others’ respect as much as he wanted to be close to Jesus. He did not care about the dignity that his position afforded. This “loser” took Jesus home with him for lunch and became his friend.4
The woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and dried them with her hair at a dinner in Jesus’ honor risked more than any of them. What she did was totally socially unacceptable. She ran the risk of being rebuked by Jesus. (We know how the story ends, but she did not.) According to what Luke tells us, the host of the dinner was a Pharisee. She did not care about others’ opinions of her. She wanted to minister to Jesus. This “loser” holds a special place in the Gospels.5
So, the Pharisees who wanted to be recognized and admired received a rebuke. Those who did not worry at all about their image received healing and forgiveness.
The approval the world gives is almost always the opposite of the will of God. But if we lose our lives, then we truly win.6
I want to be a loser.
1- Matthew 23:13-30 2- Mark 5:25-34 3- Leviticus 15:25-30 4- Luke 19:2-5 5- Luke 7:37-50 6- Matthew 10:39; Mark 16:25; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25