From Today’s Reading: LUKE 7:36-50
I had come to realize my need for Jesus’ forgiveness and gift of eternal life in the fall of 1981. Soon after I started attending Bible Studies, Sunday Schools and a Bible preaching church. I was soaking up the Bible at every opportunity. I could not get enough of it.
About two years later, while attending the college age Sunday school class at Grace Bible Church (now renamed Fellowship Bible Church) we were given the opportunity to host a service at the Peoria Rescue Mission. The “rescue mission” as we called it, provided food and shelter to homeless men. Each evening a different church provided a worship service to the men who had gathered for a shower, clean clothes, a meal, a bed and a church service.
Some of us would lead singing of hymns, while others performed special musical numbers. One of us had the responsibility of preaching a 15 – 20 minute sermon to men off the streets. I was chosen to prepare a deliver a sermon to the semi-captive audience. I think I was chosen in that I had known what a life was like with and without Jesus in it, while most of my peers had grown up in the church and had only known solid church and family lives.
My chosen passage showed up in today’s reading. It comes from Luke’s Gospel (LUKE 7:36-50). I still remember that first sermon and the butterflies in my stomach. I have since used the sermon many times as a quick “go to” sermon if called to preach or lead a devotional on short notice. Here are the highlights
Basic story: Jesus goes to a Pharisee’s house for dinner and a woman who had led a sinful life. She spends her time crying and washing the feet of Jesus with her tears and drying them with her hair. She continued to kiss Jesus’ feet and poured perfume on them.
The Pharisee was indignant and here we get a glimpse into Jesus’ divinity:
Luke 7:39 (NIV)
39When 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.”
Did you catch that, the Pharisee said to himself, not aloud? Jesus was able to see into the man’s mind.
Jesus goes on to teach the Pharisee a parable about two men who owe debts, one debtor owes 10 times the other. Jesus asks the man if the debts were forgiven, which man would be more thankful.
Luke 7:43 (NIV)
43Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Jesus goes on to amaze and confound the guests gathered at the table:
Luke 7:44 – 50 (NIV)
44Then 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. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Isn’t that a great story that can really convey the message of the Gospels? Those who have much to be forgiven have much to be thankful for. I have often said that if we really understood how many times we failed to achieve God’s standard we would really be walking differently on this earth. We would have so much that needed to be forgiven that we would be like the woman crying and washing the feet of the savior with our tears and drying them with our hair. We have such little insight into how much we have been pardoned from. We have sins we have long forgotten that Jesus has long ago forgiven.
Oh how I wish we could really see how much we have been forgiven so we can love much.