The seed is cast by the farmer into the field and may lie full of pregnant life, yet never in the soil. The human and the divine may be as near as the seed to the ground yet they may never apprehend each other. A person can be in touch with truth yet not free, in touch with life but not alive. God may be near in this world, but to many that is but mysticism, for he is not active in their soul. Cain comes in before God with his apples and pears and has contact but not communion.
A person can walk up the worn steps to the sanctuary, bow in the eternal presence, take the communion cup, sing a covenant hymn, raise holy hands yet not have communion – contact but not communion. There may be interest but not inspiration, there may be a touch but not a grip, and there can be a grip of the garment yet no fellowship.
The Lord comes in various ways to many people. They have contact but no communion. He came to Bethany and Martha had contact but Mary had communion. A rich young man came to Jesus and Jesus loved him, yet he went away sorrowful having made contact but not established communion. Pilate made contact, and washed his hands, but did he have communion? A Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. He makes contact but not communion. He fills a chair but not a heart; he fills a space but there is a void in the soul. Curiosity is not communion.
Men can be intrigued with Jesus but not inspired by Him. Having Jesus about the place does not mean he is about our soul. It can feel good to have Jesus at your table but even better to have Him in your soul. The eternal light can shine yet we can be in darkness. Jesus the living bread is available yet our soul can be famished. Living water is streaming forth yet we can be parched.
This woman of the streets – “a sinner of that city” – a prostitute of evil trade, had communion whilst others had contact. Where people make not only contact with God but establish communion with Him, history is written. Mankind misunderstands greatness. This prostitute came into the house and was immediately considered unworthy as she was born wrong. She lived wrong and was the wrong person to associate with Jesus, especially in a Pharisee’s house.
When people think of rank they think of royalty, the higher realms of breeding. Position is mistaken for purity. The Pharisee was, in his eyes, obviously higher in life than this fallen woman. Jesus brushed aside Simon’s natural inclination, turning his opinion upside-down, valuing this loose woman over this tight man.
God ranks men according to faith and humility. The Lord resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Two men to the temple, one hung his head and the other hung himself by praying aloud in proud self-confidence – “I am not as other men” ‑ His rank was rank bad manners. It reeked of conceit and arrogance. This Pharisee sat cold and quizzical to investigate this carpenter, the woman came not to analyse but to adore. She might be amongst the lowest according to human law, but to God she came highly recommended for she had found forgiveness and grace.
Our position in life is measured by our capacity to understand God, and that is based on faith. Our rank is of the highest, Peter says: “But ye (are) a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Our position is guaranteed in God, and the worse we are the higher we can go. In God’s eyes he who is a doormat or doorkeeper has a better chance of promotion than he who dwells on the pinnacle of a temple.
Just before this incidence in the house, Jesus was called “winebibber and a friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34) – friend of prostitutes and pimps, not of their sin! The Pharisee said thus: “This proves that Jesus is no prophet, for if God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman this one was!” Even as contact is not necessarily communion, so rank is not necessarily royalty. Divine royalty is a sinner saved by grace