At least 3 times Jesus physically turns his body to get the attention of the person or persons to whom he is speaking. Turn as in, “Let me turn, face you and speak to you directly.”
Once is when Jesus has just announced his impending death, recorded in Matthew 16. Peter, one of his closest disciples, clearly doesn’t get what Jesus meant. Feeling he knows better than his master, at least at that moment, Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. “Never Lord. This shall never happen to you.”
Immediately, Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
A second physical, bodily turn is found in Luke 7 where we read the story of the Roman captain and one of his servants in Capernaum. This particular servant was on his death-bed. Clearly, the captain is aware of Jesus because of what he does. The captain sent some of his other servants to ask Jesus to come and heal the dying servant. Jesus agrees to come.
Not far from his home, Jesus encounters some of the captain’s friends who also have been sent and commissioned to speak to Jesus. These friends tell Jesus there really is no need for him to come all the way to his home. Speaking for the captain, they say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
These words stun Jesus. He is undone, absolutely overwhelmed at the Roman captain’s faith. Imagine Jesus standing there just shaking his head. “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
There’s yet a third time Jesus physically turns his body to make a point. This unforgettable turning also is found in Luke 7 (verses 36-50). Quite frankly, to my mind, this particular event is one of Jesus’ most tense and powerful encounters in the whole of the Gospels.
Here we find the story of the party hosted by Simon the Pharisee and attended by several of the muckity-mucks of a particular town. Simon had also invited Jesus to the dinner, and Jesus had accepted.
Turns out, Simon is a bit rude to Jesus by not offering him the customary greeting and foot washing common in Palestine in that day. Jesus nonetheless makes it into the party, where suddenly he is confronted front and center by a prostitute. Directly in front of the host and all the rich, wheeler-dealer dinner guests, the woman drops at Jesus’ feet and begins crying — really weeping uncontrollably. Translation? She makes a scene.
Her tears land all over Jesus’ feet. The woman then wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair — certainly filthy since the host hadn’t given them the customary washing when he arrived at the party.
Here Luke lets us in on a few more details, telling us that the men at the party find Jesus’ willingness to let this scene transpire in such a, well, disgusting fashion, very despicable, especially the host himself.
This leads to the dramatic climax of the story and the great turning of Jesus’ body. Jesus asks Simon if he can speak. Simon says, “Yes, go ahead.” So Jesus proceeds to tell his host and the other town leaders a parable of forgiveness right in front of the woman who is crumbled and crying at his feet. In telling the parable, Jesus not only defends the woman, we read of yet another powerful incident where he dramatically, intentionally, physically turns his body:
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (verses 43-50)
And there you have it. 3 great turns of Jesus physical body.
Have you ever thought about Jesus turning toward you? Well, how about it when you talk to Jesus sometime today? Consider asking him, “Jesus, turn to me. Please! Look at me and let me know what you have for me.” You just never know, right? It might just be quite wonderful and full of good things for you!
What do you have to lose?