Monday, December 3, 2012

The Sinful Woman was Thankful - Luke 7:36-50

Are you thankful to be here this morning? How many of you dared the stores the day after Thanksgiving and got some Black Friday sales? How many of you are thankful you made it through that? You could have been a part of some of these headlines I saw on Friday: 'Gang fight' at Black Friday sale...
Man Punched in Face Pulls Gun On Line-Cutting Shopper...
Woman busted after throwing merchandise...
Thousands storm VICTORIA'S SECRET...
VIDEO: Insane battle over phones...
Mayhem at Nebraska mall where 9 murdered in 2007...
Shoplifter tries to mace security guards...

Men Steal Boy's Shopping Bag Outside BED, BATH & BEYOND

I find it hard to believe that somebody was enjoying turkey and dressing and visiting with loving family members on Thursday afternoon and evening and then after watching some football and telling each other how blessed they were and how thankful they were, then they just decided, “Hey, let’s go get in a gang fight.” Or, “Let’s go steal some kid’s bag in front of Bed, Bath & Beyond”.

I find it hard to believe that somebody said, “Man, I’m full. God has blessed me so much. I have so much for which to be thankful. Now, who wants to go with me to the mall where we can kill somebody over a tv?” “Hey honey, I’m gonna go punch a guy in the face at Target when he cuts in line. Wanna come?”

I have to admit, though, that I almost fell into some of that trap. I didn’t go to the mall or anything but I saw on the news that somebody was having a sale on TV’s for like $97 for a pretty nice set. I have an old dinosaur for a TV and thought that might be alright. So, I went online and checked it out. I didn’t see the $97 one but I saw one marked down from $400 to $200 and thought that wasn’t too bad. Oh, but look. This one was $700 and now it’s only $350. Pretty soon I saw one for $750 that had been way marked down and started justifying it in my mind and then I realized what was happening and had to just turn off the computer and walk away. I realized I was falling into the thought process of spending just a little more and a little more and justifying it the whole time.

But when we realize just how blessed we really are and how little some other people have and what God has blessed us with it should start to make us thankful for what we have and thankful to the One who provides it. And that's just being thankful for "stuff".  Now it's good to be thankful for "stuff".  We definitely should be.  But the real life-changer comes when we are really thankful for the other, more important things God has blessed us with.  It's important that we are thankful for the stuff, thankful for the health, thankful for our family, our friends, our freedom and as my nephew prayed Thursday, "Thank you for the sky and the whole world."  Those are all good and important things that we take for granted all too often.

But if you want to see somebody whose life is changed by their thankfulness, you look at somebody who realizes and doesn't take for granted what they have been saved from and what they have been saved to and the price that was paid for that salvation.  That is a person who is unimpressed by $97 TV's.  That's a person who doesn't get into "insane battles over phones".  That is a person who trusts in the Lord with all their heart and does not lean on their own understanding as it says in Proverbs.

That's a person who knows that this battle is not against flesh and blood as in Ephesians.  That's a person who knows the Lord requires you to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God per Micah.  That's a person who cries out to God, "Create in me a pure heart, oh, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" like David did in Psalms; a person who can forget the former things and not dwell on the past as it says in Isaiah.

A person who knows what they have been saved from and to is a person that is described in Luke chapter 7 where we see a sinful woman come to Jesus and her thankfulness to Jesus literally can't be stopped.  It can't be ignored.  She can't help but be thankful and she doesn't care who sees or hears because she has entered into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Turn to Luke 7:36-50 and I want to introduce you to a woman with no name and a Pharisee with no future.

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”“Tell me, teacher,” he said.41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.44 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.”

What we have here is an easy comparison between two people.  It's easy to see who the bad guy is and who the good person is.  And it's also easy to compare ourselves to the 2 characters and we all see ourselves in the place of the woman, don't we?  We all think that Pharisee was so rude and unthankful to Jesus and we just can't imagine being like that and we are so glad we are like we are.

C.S. Lewis satiricaly wrote in the book, The Screwtape Letters, about a senior demon, Screwtape writing to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter.  Screwtape is encouraging the younger Wormwood to do everything possible to secure the damnation of a British man known only as the Patient.  And while the younger and less mature Wormwood keeps trying to tempt the Patient into extravagant and deplorable sins, the older, wiser Screwtape advises him that if the man won't give in to the temptations, then just let him be proud of his resistance to them.  One sin is as good as another, says Screwtape.  One sin is as good as another.

So, there are several things to be learned from this fascinating passage.  It's fascinating on one hand because it gives us a glimpse of life as it was lived in the days of Jesus.  This was evidently a common happening.  One important person would invite another important person over to eat and it was just a fact that some of the town folk would come over and just watch.  I guess it's what you do if you don't have cable.

The Bible, as so often happens, does not tell us all the details.  We don't know the woman's name or why she was considered to be so sinful.  But, as always, the Bible tells us just enough.  It tells us what we really need to know.  And if it makes you feel better about yourself to assume that she was a harlot then so be it.  And maybe she was but it doesn't matter.  One sin is as good as another, right?

It doesn't matter because all that is in the past.  She has evidently heard Jesus speak.  Maybe she had a conversation with Him or maybe she heard Him preach on a hillside somewhere.  We don't know but we do know that her interaction with Jesus has changed her life and when she heard that he was going to be at the Pharisee's house then she knew she had to see Him and honor Him.  And in so doing she not only honored Jesus but became a teaching opportunity to Simon the Pharisee and the others around him and to us as well.

You have to picture the scene.  Jesus and the others would have been laying on very short couches or pillows with their legs out behind them.  And just the act of a woman walking in and being so close to Jesus was enough to raise eyebrows.  Women were not invited to these things especially a "sinful" woman like this.  And then she starts bawling and calling attention to herself but if that weren't enough women did not let down their hair in public at all.  It was very inappropriate per the standards of the day.  And then as if she wasn't already obvious enough, she perfumed the whole room with this expensive perfume.

I'm sure the Pharisee was thinking all kinds of self-righteous thoughts and we have a snippet of his thoughts recorded here since Jesus knew what he was thinking.  While all of this was happening, the pharisee was thinking ill of Jesus and so Jesus tells a story that we see plainly represents the Pharisee and the woman.  And for us it plainly represents everybody else as the ones who owed the small debt and we see ourselves as the ones who owed the big debt because we know we love Jesus more than most other people, right?

Then Jesus goes on to tell the Pharisee how the woman has done for him what the Pharisee should have as basic hospitality.  Jesus told him that the woman had given him a kiss, in fact, the phrase means has given many, many kisses.  A kiss was just a sign of respect and welcome but the Pharisee had not done that.

He says that the woman has given Him water for His feet whereas the Pharisee had neglected that too.  Water was used to simply clean the dust off the visitor's feet and was usually done by a servant.

And the oil was used to freshen a visitor and make them feel comfortable but of course the Pharisee had nothing for Jesus but the woman did even better and used expensive perfume.

Don't you just hate an inconsiderate host?  It's just wrong for somebody to invite you to their place and then not make you feel welcome when you are there.  What makes it worse is when they act like they are doing you such a huge favor and showing you great honor just by being there.  Don't you just hate that?  Makes me sick.

I have to wonder what Jesus thinks about the welcome He gets in our lives.  Oh, I know we all think we are the sinful woman who is so thankful for what Jesus has done but how many times do we act more like the Pharisee?  We talk a good game.  We say we love God and we say He is Lord but do we show it?  Did you notice that the woman never says a word in this passage?  She didn't have to.  Her feelings are obvious.

Have you shown the minimum amount of hospitality to Jesus being in your life?  Have you showed him the respect and welcome of a kiss by not taking His name in vain or tolerating it by someone else?

Have you shown Him you are His servant ready to wash feet or use your own feet to spread the Gospel?  Isaiah 52:7 says, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Have you made him feel comfortable as the Anointed King of your life by giving Him every aspect of your life?  Have you given Him your fears, your dreams, your kids and grandkids?  Have you turned over your finances, your job, your house and all your "stuff"?  Later on in Luke Jesus says, "How hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!"

I find it hard to believe that someone who is truly cognizant of what they have been saved from and what they have been saved to would have an ongoing problem with their temper.  I find it hard to believe that someone who is truly thankful for their forgiveness of sin would have an ongoing problem with lust or even pornography.  How can you truly be thankful for what God has done in your life and not support His body and His bride, the church?

Matthew 7:21 says, ""Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."  Only those who do my will...It doesn't say those who talk about it.  Not those who teach Sunday School or even preach sermons.  Not those who quote enough scripture.  Not those who cite their spiritual credentials.

There is a time for planning and discussing and teaching others and that is necessary and good but at some point you have to quit talking about being thankful and start showing it.  When you realize what you are saved from and what you are saved to and the price that was paid for that salvation you WILL tell others about your relationship with Jesus.  You WILL submit your whole life to Him.  You WILL spend time in prayer and Bible study.  Your life will be changed.

And like the sinful woman it won't be able to be stopped or ignored and you won't care who sees or hears.  This story isn't about somebody who sinned a lot and somebody else who didn't sin as much.  It's about the person who acknowledges what it took to forgive that sin and what that means for their eternity.  And it shows in their thankful life.


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