Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

  10-6-04

A Sacrificial Faith

  Luke 7:36-7:50 (Read first)


 

 


 


What we have in our text this morning is a record of the worship of a woman who falls at the feet of Jesus in worship. 


We are never told her name. 


Luke does not record a single word spoken by the woman in her sacrificial act of worship. 


Wordless worship; now there is a thought. 


But her worship was so overwhelming that Jesus uses her as an example to a very proud religious leader.


Did you know that each of the gospels has an account of the washing of Jesus’ feet by a woman (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14: 3-9, John 12:1-8 and in today’s text in Luke). 


The accounts of Matthew, Mark and John all deal with the same incident, but the one recorded in Luke is a unique incident, recorded only in his gospel. 



Turn in your Bible to Luke chapter seven and verse thirty-six as we look at this remarkable story of sacrificial faith. 


“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. (37) And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil.”


Jesus is invited for a meal into the home of a religious leader (a Pharisee) by the name of Simon (v. 40, 43-44). 


We really don’t know what prompted this invitation. 


It does not seem that Simon believed in Jesus or loved Jesus because he did not extend to him the normal hospitality. 


Common courtesy for that day would have been that as soon as Jesus entered the house of Simon, he would have been greeted with a kiss, His feet would have been washed and His head anointed with oil. 


But Simon didn’t do any of those things, and that suggests an underlying animosity on the part of Simon which Jesus will address in verses 44-46. 


Simon seems to have purposefully omitted the common courtesies accorded to any honored guest. 


Simon treated Jesus with contempt, and he enjoyed doing it. 


He carefully avoided every custom that would have made Jesus feel welcome. 


And you cannot help but think that all the guests noticed it as well.

 

In sharp contrast to Simon, a woman enters the room because she wants to find Jesus, who she had undoubtedly heard was a friend of sinners. 


And she was well qualified in that department. 


Our English translation does not convey the shock that the entrance of this woman made, when it says “when a woman.” 


What it means is literally “And look a woman!” 


The shock was primarily because of this woman’s reputation. 


The text tells us that she was a sinner (a person with a bad reputation and character.  It is also suggested that she was a prostitute). 


But, whatever her sin, she was a woman with a bad name. 



Her desire is to find Jesus and when her eyes finally rest on Him, the other guests fade into a mist of tears; it suddenly doesn’t matter what these respectable people think about her. 


All that she sees is Jesus.


According to verse thirty-eight, “ and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.” 


She knelt at the feet of Jesus with the perfume she had brought for the purpose of anointing his feet. 


Then an unexpected complication arose, she was weeping so uncontrollably that her tears began to fall on Jesus’ dusty feet. 


No doubt she was embarrassed, and she searches desperately for something to wipe the feet of Jesus, but she had not come prepared for this eventually. 


She is ashamed and embarrassed, because her tears had fallen on the feet of Jesus.


She takes the one thing available to her, she lets down her long hair and begins to dry his feet. 


But the more she wipes with her hair, the more tears that fall. 

She uses the water of her tears to wash His feet, something that could hardly have been planned in advance. 


She then began to kiss his feet. 


In fact the text uses a word which means “to kiss again and again;” she repeatedly kissed his feet. 


This woman is a self-forgetting mess – crying unashamedly, her nose running, her hair wet with a muddy mixture of tears and dirt. 


As the sweet fragrance of her sacrifice fills the room, anyone who was not aware of this woman’s actions, became aware. 


All eyes are on Jesus; what will he do. 


He doesn’t appear to be either embarrassed or upset at the extravagance of this display of love and devotion. 


What she did, she did remarkably well; she worshiped. 


This woman’s worship came at great personal cost. 


It cost her, the expensive vial of perfume; it cost her, the humility to kiss, wash and dry with her hair the dirty feet of the Lord. 




Perhaps, the greatest cost she faced was the contempt and rejection by the self-righteous Pharisee and his dinner guests. 


No one had invited her. 


She was not wanted here. 


She probably would be mocked and she might be thrown out. 


But none of those things mattered, her desire to see and worship Jesus were greater than her fear. 


The price that she had to pay may be high, but to her it was worth it. 


Simon’s reaction, given in verse thirty-nine reveals much about the condition of his heart. 


“Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner." 


In Simon’s mind he was passing judgment. 


Simon’s reasoning went something like this. 


• If Jesus were a prophet, he would know people’s character.


• If Jesus knew this woman was a sinner, He would have nothing to do with her.


• If Jesus were a true teacher he would not allow her to touch him this way. 


The word that Simon uses in this verse to say that she is “touching” him is a word used to describe immoral activity. 


The word that he used suggests that this was a very improper action.


The problem with logic is the same as the problem with 

computers; your output is only as reliable as your input. 


Because Simon’s logic was based on false assumptions it led him to false conclusions.


First, he believes that if Jesus were a prophet, He would be aware of the character of the woman who was touching him – which was correct. 


Jesus was not only able to discern the character of this woman, but he was capable of knowing what Simon was thinking. 


The conclusion that Simon reached was entirely wrong. 


He thought, “Since Jesus did not shun this woman, he didn’t know this woman’s character, and therefore he was not a prophet at all. 


By telling Simon those things that he had only thought and not spoken, he proved that he was indeed more than a prophet.


I don’t want you to miss this, in verse forty. 


Jesus turns to Simon and says, “Simon I have something that I want to say to you.” 


I wonder if Jesus comes week by week and taps you on the shoulder and whispers in your ear, “You and I have something to talk about!” 


There only two kinds of sinners in the world and everyone here fits into one of the two categories. 


There are sinners who know they are sinners and there are sinners who do not know that they are sinners.

 

What he has to say are some very important principles that are as meaningful today as they were when they were spoken.


1. Just Like The Two Men In The Story Every One Is Spiritually In Debt (vv. 40b-42) 


At the end of verse 40, and then in verses 41 and 42, we have the story.




“So he (Simon) said, "Teacher, say it." (41) "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. (42) And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.”


Jesus used a story to explain what he meant. 


There were two men who had borrowed money. 


Since a denarius was equal to about a day’s wages; 50 denarii equaled nearly 2 month’s pay; and 500, about 2 year’s wages (22 months). 


These were incredible debts considering that the average wages were barely sufficient for survival. 


And although there is considerable difference in what each man owed, what is important is that neither man was able to pay. 


But the creditor in a great show of mercy and compassion canceled each man’s debt. 


Jesus’ question recorded in verse forty-two was, “Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"


Simon may have hesitated to answer the question fearing that he would be trapped. 




Yet there was only one correct answer and even Simon could see it as he reveals in verse forty three. 


He said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." 


Certainly the one that was forgiven ten times as much would have the greater gratitude. 


The higher the debt the more the forgiveness cost the creditor. 


Some people that we would not touch with a ten foot pole, if they truly met Christ, would put us to shame in their displays of love and devotion to Jesus. 


Such people love much because they have been forgiven much. 


2. Just Like The Characters In The Story We Can Never Repay The Debt. (v. 43)

 

The good news is that forgiveness is available to everyone. 


But forgiveness is not free; forgiveness always cost something. 


For the lender it cost 550 denarii to forgive those that were indebted to him. 


Forgiveness always cost something. 


When God said, “I will forgive you,” it cost the life of his only son Jesus on the cross of Calvary. 


The sin debt had to be paid. 


Jesus paid the debt so that you wouldn’t have to. 


The conclusion is clear; Simon as a “high class” sinner had the same problem as the “low class” prostitute; it is only a matter of degrees. 


The woman owed the greater debt but they both owed a debt that they could not pay. 


Sometimes it is harder for those who have been saved young in life, which have grown up in the church, and saved from a life of abundant sin to realize the magnitude of what Christ has done for us. 


Jesus’ reply in verse forty-three, "You have rightly judged" suggest that Simon is beginning to see the spiritual implications. 


3. Those Who Come To Jesus He Will Not Turn Away (vv. 44-46) 


Jesus now does something interesting; he shifts his position so that he faces the woman, giving her his attention as he continues to talk to Simon, the proud Pharisee. 



In verse forty-four we are told, “Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon.” 


All through the meal, Jesus’ back was to the woman, who was anointing and kissing his feet. 


He was at the same time, facing his host, Simon. 


Now that Simon’s rejection of Jesus has been revealed, in contrast to the repentance and worship of the woman, Jesus now turns his back on his host and faces the woman even though he is still addressing Simon. 


Simon had turned his back on this woman because of who she was and now Jesus uses her as an example to show Simon who he really was. 


Jesus is by his very body language showing his acceptance of this woman. 


Jesus says to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. (45) You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. (46) You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.” 


Jesus tells Simon that this woman has done for Him what he had refused to do. 



He had purposefully omitted the common courtesies accorded to any honored guest. 


Jesus chose to overlook Simon’s intended insult because his purpose for being there was not to judge manners but to forgive sin.


What the woman does for Jesus though was not mere social niceties; they were acts of repentance and worship. 


She came to Jesus in faith expecting him to forgive her and she was not disappointed. 


As she wept in repentance, I believe she could sense the Lord’s forgiveness. 


The greater her relief from sin, the more abundantly and extravagant her expression of adoration and worship became. 


We are never happier than when we feel forgiven, free of debt, free of guilt, free of shame. 


4. Those Who Come To Jesus In Repentance And Faith Will Be Forgiven (vv. 47-50)


Jesus tells Simon in verse forty-seven, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 



Some have wrongly concluded on the basis of this verse that the woman had earned her salvation or forgiveness by her great act of love. 


To love because you are forgiven is a natural response to such an undeserved action. 


To be forgiven because you have expressed love is works. 


The Jerusalem Bible brings out the meaning of Jesus’ words, “For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven, or she would not have shown such great love.” 


Then Jesus in verse forty-eight spoke the words that she had been searching for, and waiting to hear, all of her life; "Your sins are forgiven." 


In so doing he openly declared that all of her past sins were forgiven. 


The truly exciting part is that what was true then is still true today. 


Jesus forgives all those who come to him in faith and repentance.

 

Those that heard the statement “your sins are forgiven” were amazed. 



The reaction of the guests in verse forty-nine is that they began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 


They had rightful concluded that only God can forgive sins.


They realized that Jesus was making a claim that no man could rightfully make, that is, unless He is God. 


Jesus will make it crystal clear in verse fifty, what has brought about her salvation when he said, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." 


Jesus distinctly says that it is her faith that has saved her. 


What was it that the woman believed by faith? 


What was the substance of her faith? 


What did the woman believe that saved her? 


The answer is strongly implied in the text: THE WOMAN BELIEVED THAT IF SHE CAME TO JESUS AS A REPENTANT SINNER, THAT JESUS WOULD NOT SEND HER AWAY, HE COULD AND WOULD SAVE HER. 


That’s what she believed and she was right. 


But the question remains, “What about you? 



Conclusion 


Do you want to come to Jesus for forgiveness or restoration or strength? 


Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29; "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 


This is one of my favorite accounts from Jesus’ life.


But there is a parallel illustration from the not so distant past that would be good to end with.


A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. 


The emperor replied that the young man had committed the same crime twice and justice demanded death. 


“But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained, “I plead for mercy.” 


“But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied. 


“Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all that I ask for.” 


“Well then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” 


And he spared the woman’s son.


Amen.


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