The story starts with a prominent community leader inviting Jesus to a party at his house. (Luke 7:36) Jesus went, of course, because that’s what Jesus did. He didn’t refuse anyone who gave him an invitation.
Jesus was most often found on the streets, in parks or local cafes engaging in small groups with impromptu crowds, but he was equally comfortable in churches, colleges and public meeting halls with politicians, priests, academicians and larger, more formal crowds. Jesus wouldn’t refuse any request to meet and be with people wherever he went. So Jesus went to the party.
Jesus had risen quickly to popularity. No one really knew that much about him, where he came from or what his credentials were, but anyone who was anyone knew about him by now. Many were the people who wanted to meet him. He would be a draw to Simon’s party.
Of course, people alternately loved him or hated him. Few, if anyone, were neutral about Jesus. Some people hung on every word that he spoke, while others questioned everything, wondering what his intentions were, skeptical of everything he said or did.
We don’t know much about the particular party to which Jesus was invited or the host of the party, other than this name, Simon. In fact, one of the only things we really know about the party is the scandal that took place there.
Simon was a well-known leader in his community and a gracious host. His home was open to friends and neighbors. He was generous with his prominence, wealth and lifestyle. He loved to entertain. Inviting Jesus would be a hip thing to do, given the grass roots popularity Jesus enjoyed.
Inviting Jesus might would be viewed as scandalous by some of Simon’s peers, but he wasn’t like them. He fancied himself more open-minded than that. He wasn’t afraid of a little controversy. It would ensure his good stature among both the elites and more common folks, the people of his own upbringing.
But Simon wasn’t at all ready for what would happen next. While his home was an open invitation to friends, colleagues and neighbors, no one who was not of a particular type would dare, surely, to enter those halls dedicated to showing off the influence, prominence and wealth to which Simon had attained. People who had not attained, or at least aspired to, a certain stature certainly wouldn’t think of it…. or would they?