Since the beginning of time besides farming the “oldest profession” has always been prostitution in some form, or at least that’s how the old joke goes. However, it is no joking matter. Even in our world today it remains a prominent business, and unfortunately enslaves millions. Between the sex slave markets of the world and forced slave labor over 43.5 million people are slaves in our world today. Many are sold off by family or worse yet sell themselves off in hopes of having food and shelter. There are likely millions more in slave like relationships, only with a person to have their basic needs met, and not really with a person for reasons of love or devotion.
In most towns of Jesus’ time there were women selling themselves to make ends meet and put food on the table. They were well known in the cities, because many men frequented their establishment. They couldn’t go into normal businesses of society without the women looking down on them.
Jesus reached out to these who were unwanted and viewed as unfaithful by much of the society. In fact, the religious leaders tried setting Jesus up by trying to get him to condemn a prostitute one day (John 8:1-11). They claimed to have caught a woman in adultery, a crime punishable by stoning. Yet, they don’t bring the man to Jesus, only the woman. Jesus doesn’t get into debate with them, He simply says, “let him without sin cast the first stone,” and he writes in the sand.
The religious leaders all go away one by one. We don’t know what Jesus wrote, I have heard some scholars claim it might have been a list of the sins the leaders were guilty of. Others say it might have been a list of men who she had been with to show that they were guilty too. In the end, Jesus looks at the woman and says, “Where are your accusers?” She answers, “There are none.” Jesus then says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go leave your life of sin.
On another occasion, Jesus has dinner at Simon, the Pharisee’s home (Luke 7:36-50), and a woman of poor reputation (likely a prostitute or adulterer) comes and weeps at Jesus feet. She washes Jesus feet with her tears. Simon is disgusted that Jesus would even allow such a sinner to touch him. Jesus reminds Simon that he hadn’t even followed the customs of hospitality to wash his feet.
Then Jesus challenges Simon by asking if two have a debt, one large and one small, and they are forgiven; which person is more thankful. The obvious answer is the one with the greater debt. Then Jesus tells the woman her sins are “forgiven”.
Jesus reached beyond the everyday people he could have hung out with, and into those deemed unwanted, unworthy, and unfaithful. He saw beyond the surface to the need of the heart and soul. We can and should do the same in our lives. It is easy to judge people by what we see on the surface. It is much harder to get involved and to welcome the sinners into our lives.
I remember hearing a pastor’s wife share of how a group from their ladies group began hanging around the local strip clubs. They would bring small gifts of encouragement to the women who worked in these clubs. Over time they managed to start a Bible study in one of the clubs, and several of the women found their way out of hopeless and unloving situation and into the help of others. It was hard for women who had grown up in church to reach out to women from such different backgrounds, but in time they were able to find the importance of merciful love.
Maybe you are in a relationship where love is lacking. Maybe you have been turning from relationship to relationship to fill a hunger for love inside. Today may be the right time to seek the fulfilling love of God in your heart. Let go of the pain of the past, and let the love of Christ fill you today. In faith, open up and let His Spirit fill you and all your inner desires today.