The Relationship With Our Lord
As I sat in my study yesterday afternoon preparing my Wednesday night message, I stumbled upon a convicting scriptural account in which I have heard very few sermons delivered. Although a popular passage, the usage of it in a ministry setting is often overlooked. In this passage, we can easily locate comparisons to our own faults as churches, Christians, and denominations in their entirety. We can learn a lot from wretched sinners, and this passage certainly allows us to reflect on our own spiritual walk with our wonderful Lord. Found within chapter 7 of the Gospel account of Luke, it calls our attention to the state of a sinner. Specifically the state of this particular woman.
The first evident truth is that this woman was a sinner. Verses 36-37 – “Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner…”. Now although we are unsure as to the specifics of her sin, we can gather that it was of a caliber which caused the society of that day to frown upon her. She was an outcast, worthless in societal eyes, and most likely discouraged as she bathed in the guilt and shame of her sin. Have you ever done something that you wish you could instantly redo? Maybe it was a slip of the tongue or an action performed in the midst of a brief moment of anger. We've all been there, and every hand would be raised as this question presents itself. But what does this say about the woman?
We quickly see in verse 38 that she was overcome by His majesty. Verses 37b - 38 – “And when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume. And standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.” What a powerful portion of scripture. A sinner at the feet of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Now this alabaster vial usually was known to contain a precious kind of perfume. This was most likely, in her case, all she had. And if it was all she had, it was probably the best she had to offer. But take notice that she stood behind Christ at His feet. it was a sign of humility. She didn't initially look at Him in the face, stick her hand out, and say "Hello, my name is....." as in the case of most of us.
But you know what I find most convicting about this verse? She had a fervent desire to be close to Him. Not for her personal gain, not for her pride, not for her arrogance. She simply wanted to be close to this man which she knew possessed something that she didn't have, and that was grace. How many of us are willing to do more than what is required or necessary to get close to Jesus Christ? I think many of us like to strut around claiming we attend church, but few actually have an understanding of why they're even present in worship. Is it for our own benefit? Do we feel like we are doing God a favor by being there? Is it good for business? Good to be seen? Good that others think we are a wonderful individual because we attend church? Do we have the audacity to believe that we are God's greatest gift to the world? This may sound far-fetched, but I have witnessed individuals who unfortunately fit this description without any reservations.
In continuation, we see two judgements. One is a holy, righteous judgement, and the other stems from an arrogant approach. We first witness the judging attitude of the Pharisee. Verse 39 – “Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him (Jesus) saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” We all know those judgmental folks in the church, don't we? And, quite honestly, we'd all be first in line. You judge someone by calling them a judger.....think about that! Sometimes, we as Christians are the biggest stumbling block to those who are trying to get to Jesus Christ. We expect sinners to dress as we are, present themselves as eloquently as we do, and look at us square in the eyes and say "Would you please share the Gospel with me?". Sounds funny, but it's quite accurate. We must not compromise the Gospel in order to reach the lost, but we must come to the level of a sinner in order that we might make a personal connection with them, and then hope that our presentation of the Gospel connects with them.
But then Jesus has something to say about this man's judgement. He shares a parable, and at the conclusion of this parable he provides a blessed judgement. It was the blessed judgement of a gracious king. He proceeds in verses 47-48 – “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Can you imagine the Savior of all people looking toward someone who was so wretched and saying: "Your sins have been forgiven"? Oh how I wish I could've been there! Have you ever heard the phrase "skin in the game"? It is usually in reference to putting one's personal financial support in a product, company, or investment that allows one to take more personal interest in an area due to their own personal investment. If you were forgiven for a $5 debt compared to a $5,000,000 debt, you will quickly take notice. That is what Christ is explaining in His parable. Some of the most wretched people in society turned out to be the greatest witnesses for Christ. Remember Saul? He despised Christians to the point that it was his life's mission to see them eliminated. But when the Lord met Paul on the road to Damascus, he was transformed and became one of the most influential people in Christianity. If the Gospel transformed Paul, as well as some of those that I have met in my lifetime, I am positive that it can transform anyone who is willing to not only listen, but put it into practice.
In closing, I'll leave you with these simple ideas. In our realms of Christianity, there is clearly some unfulfillment of our responsibility. We see in verses 44-46 – “Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.”
Do you know what this tells us as we apply this to our modern day? We're too busy judging the sinner to witness to the sinner. It's a powerful thought, and unfortunately we are all guilty. We see someone who doesn't "fit the bill", and therefore we instantly judge them for something we often know little about. It's human nature to judge, but we must look past judgement and lead them to a hopeful path to justification.
But in the final verse, we witness the blessing extended to sorrowful sinners through the forgiving power of a forgiving Savior. Verse 50 – “And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Oh what a moment when everything changed! She had now experienced the wondrous gift of grace which was extended to her by the one who made grace possible for us. This verse perfectly demonstrates the biblical truth discovered in John 3:16-17 - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. I'm thankful today that we serve a God of a second chance. You and I are inept to save ourselves. Our own righteousness is as a filthy rag. And when we come to the realization that it is only by God's grace that we are able to accomplish anything worthwhile in life, you and I would then discover a deep passion to reach the lost and see others come into a joyous relationship with Jesus Christ. It's not about you and it's not about me. But friend, I can assure you today that it's all about Jesus Christ.
Because HE lives is why you and I serve!