Jesus Meets A Sinner
[Luke 7:36-50]

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Dave McMurry


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Series:  Meet Jesus: Pictures from Luke and Acts  by Dave McMurry

Date:  January 31, 2016

Scripture:  Luke 7:36-50

Title:  Jesus Meets a Sinner


Good morning again!  If you have a bible, open it up to Luke 7.  We will look at the end of Luke 7; we looked at the beginning of Luke 7 last week. If you don’t have a bible with you and you want to follow along, there are some black bibles under the chairs and we will be on page 864. The series that we’re in for the next several months, we are calling Meet Jesus.  We are looking at pictures of Jesus from Luke and Acts.  Both of those books in the New Testament were written by Luke, so he’s giving the same perspective but in different kinds of books as well.  We are going to get snapshots of Jesus, portraits of Jesus, understanding who Jesus is.  What does it mean to find faith in Jesus?  What does it mean to treasure Jesus?  What does it mean to follow Jesus?  We are going to learn about that over the next several weeks.  Today’s sermon is “Jesus Meets a Sinner.”  I just want to clarify that this is language that is highlighted in the text and that’s why I’m using the term but just to be clear so we all know, everyone Jesus ever met was a sinner.  I just wanted to clarify that up front.  We believe we are all sinners but this is kind of a word that is used in particular here in this text. 


Before we begin reading Luke 7:36-50, remember that the Pharisees were the very strict bible readers, bible memorizers, guys that were obsessed with the law at Jesus’ time and there were often conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees.  Jesus would argue that he was in keeping with the intent of the scripture while they were selfishly just keeping to the letter of scripture.  There were always some conflicts happening. 


Luke 7:36-50  One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table.37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”


41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then 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. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Let me pray for us.  God, we thank you for your word and we thank you that it is an invitation to come as we are and we confess that we are desperately in need of you.  That everything else that this world has to offer is not enough so we thank you for your generosity that you’re the God that comes towards us in Jesus. We pray that you would help us to hear and to understand.  We pray that your spirit would meet us, that we would have clarity, that we would hear your words in this text and that we would see Jesus.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.


How many of you have ever been in a situation where you were invited to some kind of formal dinner but you felt like maybe you were out of place and you were a little nervous about the circumstances.  Has this ever happened to any of you?  It has happened to me a million times.  You walk into this situation and maybe it’s the formality of the situation that makes you nervous.  Maybe it’s the people involved that makes you nervous because you just don’t know them.  Maybe it’s a different cultural setting and you’re thinking, well I was raised this way but I’m not sure how they do things in this setting so I’m not sure if I’m going to be okay in this situation. 


My wife and I were talking to some friends the other day.  We were talking about a third party who we all mutually love, so we weren’t gossiping about them.  We were just talking about this third set of friends that we love dearly and we were just talking about how we have some history with these people and we used to really feel nervous around them, because these people come from very good families; my wife and I, not so much.  These people had money; my wife and I, not so much.  These people were just super well spoken; my wife and I, well we’re getting better on that end but again, not so much.  There’s this cultural distance that we felt, the “I’m not worthy” feeling we would have around these people.  The cool thing is that these people that I’m describing love Jesus and because of that they are gracious people and they always close the gap.  They never made us feel like we didn’t deserve to be around them; they reached out to us in love. They were kind to us.  They were accepting to us.  They embraced us.  They showed grace to us.  We were just talking about, again, that as a mark of grace and how we genuinely love these people because of their willingness to close this gap that we felt because we felt like outsiders and “not good enough.” I’m sure you have all felt that in some kind of setting, where maybe it was friends, maybe it was a formal situation, whatever it might be, where you felt like an outsider.


What we have here is a picture of a formal dinner and important people being there and this outsider having the nerve to approach.  The important people were mad about it.  Jesus welcomes sinners but the other people, not so much.  They didn’t welcome the sinners.  They didn’t welcome the outsiders.  I think what we are going to see here in this story is because they thought that they deserved to be at that table.  They didn’t really understand their own position; that it was only by grace that they were at the table in the first place.  I think this story is going to challenge us how we think from both angles.  Sometimes, we are scared to approach the situation because we feel like we don’t deserve it.  Other times we are on the inside.  We don’t want other people being brought in because we think we deserve to be there.  Jesus is going to challenge both sides of that equation.


The Emotional Response of a Sinner

The first thing I want us to see is the emotional response of a sinner.  We see a sinner who approaches Jesus with great emotion, humility, adoration, love, and it’s a really beautiful story.  Again, we have the setting of it being at a Pharisees house.  The way we understand it as we study the history is that it was to some degree probably a kind of formal banquet style meal.  So, commentators would argue that she wasn’t rebuked for showing up at the party; she was rebuked for approaching Jesus closely.  There were common meals in this day and time, where people would be gathered around the table and the riff raff would have been let in the gates and allowed to kind of watch; stand against the wall and watch the important people to eat.  There were kind of semi-public environments like this that a lot of commentators think this was it.  Have you ever been in a situation where you are at a formal dinner and there is the important people table up front, so you can watch the important people eat and you are at the not important people table over here, you know what I’m talking about?  We do that at weddings and it usually doesn’t offend us at a wedding but there are other environments where we are like, “Oh this is weird, those are the good people and I’m with the bad people over here at the other table.”  It would have been somewhat like that in this culture. 


I have a picture here of people reclining at the table.  So what you have here is a low table in the middle and you have people lying on a mat.  Have you ever laid on the carpet to watch TV and you are lying on one elbow and eating Cheetos with the other hand?  You’re just kind of propped up on one side.  That’s how we understand they would eat at these kinds of banquets or meals.  That’s why you hear this weird language in the gospels, how the disciples laid their heads on each other.  They were kind of lying down sideways at the table.  Their feet would have been running out away from the table; their bodies and heads against the table, lying on one side eating.  That’s how they would do it.  Again, not how we do things but that’s okay. 


We have this concept that it wasn’t so crazy for her to be in the room; it was crazy for her to approach a holy man.  The setup is the Pharisees ask him to eat.  He went into the Pharisees house.  He reclined at the table like we saw in the picture there.  37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment.  There are some other stories in the other gospels about situations where women have brought alabaster flasks of ointment or fine perfume and anointed Jesus.  There are enough differences here that I would agree with Darrell Bock, who is one of the leading commentators in the Book of Luke, who thinks this is actually a different story from that handful of other stories.  It’s not the end of the world; I’m not going to kick you out of the church if you disagree with me on this point, but this is our best understanding of it.  What you see in the gospels is that there are a lot of similarities.  There are echoes of different stories and sometimes when we see those echoes and similarities we think, “Oh, the same story with two different perspectives,” and then sometimes we see it and we say, “Oh, different stories with a couple of things that line up, you know, like there’s an alabaster flask and some anointment at a meal;” that really wasn’t that unusual in this culture, so I would think it’s two different stories, that’s how I understand it.  So, she is taking this alabaster flask of perfume, that’s how you would have carried it, in some type of glass or ceramic container, and this perfume or oil was very common in their culture.  It says in verse 38 that she was standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.


What I want you to see is that this is an emotional response of adoration, where she is weeping over him.  She’s kissing him.  She’s anointing him.  Because there is cultural distance, what you need to understand is that it’s not crazy for a woman to weep at someone’s feet and kiss and anoint.  That’s crazy to us because we’re not first century Middle Eastern people.  What I want you to be able to see through that weirdness, just acknowledging, okay, cultural distance, that’s not how we do things.  We don’t even really kiss each other.  You see that in other cultures, where people will kiss each cheek.  There was more kissing, touching and weeping going on in their culture, which don’t happen that commonly in our culture.  Don’t miss that the weird part of the story is a sinner approaching a holy man; that’s the weird part.  The rest of this is incidental.  She has an emotional response and she is approaching him with grace and humility.  The way she expresses her emotion is not as important as the reality that she feels like she can. 


What I want us to think through is do we feel that same invitation to approach God or do we feel like we need to stand at a distance?  Are we like the Pharisee that thinks you don’t deserve to be in Jesus’ presence, you need to keep your distance or do we believe we can come to Jesus in great emotion and adoration, weeping, showing love and express adoration for him.  Do we believe we can do that?  Now, I can’t see myself ever weeping and anointing someone with oil and kissing their feet because of the cultural distance.  I believe the bible is very clear that all of us who have faith in Jesus are to come to him and emotionally respond to him.  We need to be able to separate that out. 


Here’s an example of this.  One of the things that the people of God have always done, Old Testament and New Testament, is we sing songs to God.  We worship Jesus.  We say Jesus I love you; we say this out loud.  We need to understand that that is a weird emotional response to the God of the universe.  We do that because we believe he is approachable and he is worth it and we want to worship him.  When I worship, because of my cultural background, my upbringing, whatever else you want to blame it on, I think I’m really getting after it and being emotional when I rock back and forth and nod my head.  I think that is an outrageous display of affection and emotion.  I also understand that that’s culturally different for others.  Others of you, you’re weeping and waving your hands.  There are different emotional responses to Jesus.  What I’m saying is I’m not calling you to have this emotional response.  I’m not calling you to break flasks of oil and I’m not calling you to rock back and forth the way I do when I sing.  I’m calling you to have an emotional response to Jesus.  What is that response?  What is the essence of that?  In a culture that says sinners can’t get anywhere near Jesus or holy men, we say, “No, I’m invited.”  We just sang a song earlier, “Come as You are”.  Jesus invites you into his presence.  Jesus loves you.  He is accepting and he is welcoming you.  That is the crux of the issue.  We believe that God wants to know us, so that affects everything about how we live our life.  Do we believe we can pray and have a relationship with God?  Some might say, “No, I have to get my stuff together.  I’m kind of messed up.  I have to work on that first and then I can approach God.”  No, here we are told that he accepts sinners.  Come to him.  Come as you are.  Come to him broken.  That is the emotional response.  It is good, proper and right to publicly and emotionally express our affection for Jesus. 


One of them, again, is what we have always done as a people of God we have always sang songs to God, thanking him for his great works of salvation.  In the Old Testament they remembered his great ways of rescuing his people in the past through the Exodus.  Now, we on the other side of the cross, we sing songs to God, recognizing and praising him for saving us for rescuing us through the cross, by Jesus taking our sins on the cross and giving us Jesus’ righteousness.  We celebrate him.  We sing to him.  We praise him. 


We also read his word.  We believe that Jesus has spoken to us and we can approach him and we come to him and say, “What do you have to say to me Jesus?  I want to listen to you.  I want to understand you.”  We study his words.  We listen to him through the scriptures.  What are other ways that we do this?  We share with others what we know of Jesus.  It starts to come out.  Our emotional response to Jesus is that he is someone we want to be with and talk to and be near.  It comes out in our relationship, so we talk to other people about that relationship that we have with Jesus.  There is some level of spontaneous response that we have, some level of emotional response of being drawn to Jesus, and we are going to share that with the people around us.  Now, again, don’t confuse this with the nitty gritty of how that’s done.  I spend hours and hours everyday talking to lots of people, so it’s probable going to come out in more conversations for me than maybe someone else.  I’m not saying how many conversations you have, I’m just saying if you’re an introvert and you talk to half a person everyday, it’s going to come out in that half conversation you have everyday; it’s going to come out to some degree.  If you are an extrovert that talks to a thousand people everyday it’s going to come out more; it might come out in different ways.  It might come out filtered through your personality, through your opportunities, but it’s going to come out.  It’s going to be expressed.  Again, don’t confuse the cultural expression of, ‘she weeps and kissed,’ she did it this way; don’t confuse that with how it might come out through you.  It’s going to come out in your life. There is going to be a response to Jesus.  It can’t be stopped.  It’s going to overflow through your life.


One of the other things we are going to see through the logic of what Jesus is going to explain further through the story is that it’s going to come out just in how we love each other.  Jesus is talking in this story really more how she loved Jesus but when you pull back from the New Testament you see that those things always go together.  We love God and we love other people.  James made this real clear last semester when we were studying the Book of James.  If we really love God, if we really have faith, we love other people.  We feel loved so we are going to respond in love.  So, those are the emotional responses of a sinner, of people like you and me that are sinners that believes Jesus invites us to himself, welcomes us to approach him in love.


Religious Disgust at a Sinner

The next thing we are going to see as the story unfolds is religious disgust at a sinner.  Sometimes that’s a barrier to us from the outside.  Sometimes you are seeing yourself as a sinner that wants to approach Jesus and other religious people around you say, “No, no, no, you have to get yourself together before you come to Jesus.”  Sometimes we are that religious person, as I said earlier.  Sometimes we feel a proximity to something.  Sometimes we are in that inner ring or inner circle and when other people try to come in we are like, “You can’t come in here, this is for me, this is my personal space here.  This is something that I earned my way into,” and as this unfolds we are going to see that none of us ever earned our way into that setting. 


Verse 39 says it this way, Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”  This religious man, the Pharisee, has disgust towards sinners.  Verse 40,  And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” This seems like a great understatement.  If I was thinking private thoughts to myself, if I was judging Jesus in my mind, and then he says, ‘Dave, I have something to say to you.’  I think I would be kind of worried.  And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”  So, he has disgust.  There are all kinds of religious barriers that we have set up.  We have this preconceived notion just like the Pharisee, just like Simon, where we’re like, “What?  Well, that person can’t come here.   They’re not cleaned up enough yet.  We need to fix them and then they can come to Jesus.”  Continually, Jesus says, “No, come to me and I’ll fix you.  Come to me, I’ll clean you up.  Come to me first.”  Again, the song we sang earlier, Come as you Are.  We have this idea that it’s like a HazMat situation. 


Here’s a picture of some guys in HazMat suits.  They’ve got some kind of chemicals they are spraying each other with.  How do you feel about the sinners around you?  First of all, do you recognize that you’re a sinner?  That was a big problem that Simon had.  He didn’t even think he was a sinner.  But, he really didn’t want to get touched or influenced by sin so he wanted to keep them at a distance.  He said, “According to my rules of the game, a prophet can’t be near a sinner.  It just doesn’t work.  What makes you a prophet is keeping sinners at arms length,” and Jesus deconstructs that whole notion; he says, “No it’s not.  Being holy doesn’t mean you hate these sinners.  It means you certainly shouldn’t want to embrace sin.”  Jesus is not saying, “We sin and everything is cool, don’t worry about it, sin is great.”  No, he says, “We love sinners.  We accept sinners.  We build bridges with these sinners.” 


So, what’s the paradigm you have in your mind?  Who are the people you have disgust towards?  Just to make it really personal.  Go through the catalog in your mind, your mental rolodex; kids under 30, I know you don’t know what I’m saying.  For you people under 30, go through your contact list and ask yourself, “Who do I have disgust towards?  Who do I think doesn’t deserve my company or Jesus’ company or our churches company or our family’s company or my friend’s company?  Who are those people I find disgusting?” and then you’ll be able to relate to the Pharisee.  Who do you think doesn’t deserve Jesus.  Isn’t that a great oxymoron statement?  “You don’t deserve Jesus.”  Here’s one even more crazy, “You don’t deserve grace.”  Well, grace by definition is undeserved.  “You don’t deserve forgiveness.”  Well, forgiveness by definition is not deserved.  That’s what Jesus is trying to communicate to the religious people of his day and I think to the religious people of our day too.  We are the religious people.  We are the ones like the Pharisees, studying our bible, trying to say we want to do what it says.  Let’s make sure we don’t show disgust towards sinners.  Does that mean we sin all the more so that grace may abound.  Paul says, “May it never be,” of course not, but we love people like Jesus.  We say, “I’m going to do my best not to sin and then I’m going to show love to sinners and be a friend like Jesus was.”  That’s what Jesus invites us into.


How Forgiveness Changes a Sinner

The last thing I want us to see is how then forgiveness changes a sinner.  What does the process actually look like?  What does this transformation look like?  Look at verse 41.  Jesus gives a little explanatory parable.  He gives us this little story to make sense of the gospel, to make sense of forgiveness for the folks present here.  Verse 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. (Two guys owed him money). One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.” It’s hard to make exact comparisons but we’ll say it’s roughly like two months’ wages verses two years wages, being very rough here; the important thing is not the exact amount.  The important thing is there is a big difference.  One guy owes an unpayable amount and another guy owes a small payable amount.  He goes on and says, 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both.  So, the moneylender was gracious in a culturally weird way, like over-the-top gracious; this just didn’t happen in their culture.  The Pharisees were sticklers for justice and a lot of times these were the guys that made themselves rich by not forgiving debts but by holding people to their debts.  He says he forgave their debts. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Even in his response he’s kind of distancing himself.  He knows exactly what the answer.  And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman (so again, back up, cultural setting of formal banquet.  The riff raff get to hang out around the edges.  The important people are at the important people table.  Jesus is not really supposed to interact with her.  He’s just kind of letting this unfold and now he turns toward her and really shows her dignity as a person.  He turns toward her) 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.  (The common courtesy at that time would be to wash someone’s feet or offer water so they could wash their own feet or offer a servant to wash their feet.  That was just the common courtesy of the day.  You come in from a long trip, you have been driving through the night and you make it to your uncle’s house and he’s like, “Hey, here’s the bathroom, freshen yourself up.  Here’s a bed, I cleaned the sheets for you.”  It’s in that line of thinking.  Standard practice would have been to wash people’s feet or offer them the opportunity to have their feet washed.  He’s saying, “You didn’t do that for me Simon, but she has.”  He goes on and he says 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.46 (Again, they do a lot of kissing in their culture.  We wouldn’t do that but there’s these things we do that show people grace and to show people hospitality.  Jesus is just saying you didn’t show me the common courtesy.  You didn’t show me the common hospitality.  You even held me at a distance, trying to decide if I was holy enough to be deserving of your hospitality, Simon.  But he says she has shown me this love.)  He goes on, You did not anoint my head with oil, (another common thing they would do; when someone comes over for dinner we don’t usually offer them olive oil for their hair, but that’s what they did.  These were the things they did in their culture that would be equal to us offering indoor plumbing to someone as a courtesy; they would offer oil, ointment and foot washing.)  So he says, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (So, he makes the difference here that because she’s done this, she is forgiven.  We need to clarify this because depending on your translation the language might come through in a strange way.  Darrell Bock, again, was really helpful on this as a commentator, he said, it’s kind of like saying it’s raining outside because the windows are wet.  If you are a computer programmer or engineer, you would say, “Hey wait, that statement’s not factually correct because the windows being wet doesn’t make the rain happen.”  We need to be clear here that Jesus is speaking colloquially, like many of us do, in common language and he’s saying the wetness of the windows shows us, proves to us, we know now that it is indeed raining because there’s wetness on the windows.  He’s saying in the same way, “I know it’s clear and it’s clear to all of you that she loves and that she’s forgiven because she loves.  It’s clear.  The love is the evidence in her reality.  That’s what the New Testament teaches again and again and again; that if we are forgiven and trust Jesus and know Jesus as our Savior, if we know we are sinners, if we know we need what Jesus gives, then we love.  So, don’t misunderstand this to mean Jesus saying, “She just earned my forgiveness by loving me.”  That’s not what he’s saying.  He’s saying, “She has just evidenced her forgiveness by showing love and that’s the way it works in our life too.  We love because he first loved us.  We love God and we love others because God approached us in love through Jesus.

I have a chart here that I’ve used in the past which was a chart that was first done by Paul Miller in the Sonship Curriculum of World Harvest and Serge Ministries and it is now used in a bible study book we use called, The Gospel-Centered Life.  A Gospel-Centered Life is a book that a lot of our groups have done.  What it does is that it sets up this growing angle, these 2 lines that get farther and father apart and the top line is a Growing Knowledge of God’s Holiness.  So, the more you become aware of God and who he is, the more you become overwhelmed that he is holy.  That’s why when people see God or see the messengers of God face to face, they usually pass out or get sick or faint.  That’s the “Woe is me” response of Isaiah 6; “I am not worthy, God is Holy, this is scary.”  It’s this growing knowledge of God’s holiness and the bottom line is Growing Knowledge of my Sinfulness; those two things go together.  Those lines are always growing apart.  The more we know God to be holy, the more we know ourselves to be sinners.  The more aware I am that I’ve blown it, that I’m not holy, because God is holy.  The more I see the standard of holiness the more I see my own missing of the standard; that all of have fallen short of the glory of God; that’s what sin is.  So, if you believe that the gap has been closed between God’s holiness and your sinfulness, as you grow in your knowledge of that gap widening, you’re growing in the knowledge of what great cost it took to close that gap.  Does that make sense?  The way it’s displayed on the chart is that you have a growing appreciation for the gospel.  Your cross has to get bigger because as you grow and mature, more and more you see how big your sins are. 

Go back into the language here of this text, Jesus says, “If you think you have big sins, you’re going to love God a lot; if you think you have small sins, you’re not going to love much.  If you are always doing the work of diminishing your sin, saying, “My sins aren’t that bad.  I’m better than most people.”  Then you don’t really need the cross do you?  Then you don’t really need a God that sent his son to die for you, if your sins are no big deal.  That’s the point he’s trying to make here to Simon and he’s using her as the demonstration.  So, sinners know I’m a sinner, I need a Savior.  Some of us think we aren’t actually sinners.  I mean, we say it but it’s not really a big deal; we say, “I’m not like those people.  It’s not like I need Jesus to die on the cross for me or anything.”  We belittle the gap that God has closed through the gospel, through Jesus and what he has accomplished for us. 

Jesus here is challenging the religious person to recognize, “You know what?  You think your sins are little?  They’re not, they are huge.”  So, just recognize that those of us who are religious, those of us through great discipline and perseverance that have lived a holy life, we are at greatest risk to miss the gospel.  We are at the greatest risk to think God is pleased with us because we have lived such a disciplined and holy life.  I’m not saying that that’s bad, I’m just saying don’t miss the gospel; that we are all sinners that need a Savior.  So, again, Paul says, “Should we sin all the more so that grace may abound?”  Of course not, that’s not what he’s saying at all.  He’s just saying you better understand that any holiness, any discipline, any good thing in your life is a result of God’s grace.  It’s the result of God’s goodness.  The more you actually get to know God you’re not going to be belittling your sins anymore.  You’re going to have a heightened awareness of how holy God is and how great your sins really are.  Even if they’re heart sins that no one sees.  Even if your neighbors think you’re all American, you’re going to know an increasing measure that you are a sinner but that God is good.  God loves you.  God is gracious.  The cross is going to get bigger.  Jesus is going to get bigger.  Forgiveness is going to become more amazing and you’re going to love God more and love others more; that’s what Jesus is saying here. 

The cross chart illustrates that when we come to Jesus we have an awareness that he is holy, we are a sinner and we need Jesus to cover that gap.  When we grow in maturity it’s the same process.  The gospel saves us.  We enter through the gospel and the gospel matures us.  It transforms us.  It remakes us day to day.  It helps us to see others as persons that we should show dignity to because we love them and we don’t think we are any better than them and that’s in contrast to the religious disgust for sinners.  So, this is how forgiveness changes a sinner.  We have this process that Jesus shows here and is reiterated throughout the New Testament, that this love for Jesus is evidence of forgiveness.  So, Jesus says your sins are forgiven. 

The last 2 verses come to a head.  49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” (So, back at the beginning the guy was questioning, “Is this guy really a prophet?  Can this guy really speak the words of God, because he’s communicating, he’s allowing a sinner to touch him, so he’s probably not really a prophet.”  Jesus answers him, “I know what you’re thinking” which is kind of scary and he keeps going and says, “Your sins are forgiven.”  They are amazed because their understanding and my understanding is that only God can forgive sins.  So, Jesus is standing in the place of God.  I believe that the understanding of the Trinity, the most simple way to say it is there is one God and three persons; one what and three who’s.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  He says, “As God, I can forgive your sins.”  He’s the one who paid the price for our sins.  So, they’re amazed.  Who is this, who even forgives sins?  50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  Just to be clear, “Her faith in me has saved her, now she can go in peace.”

Let me pray for us and we will respond in communion and worship together. 

Father, we thank you that you invite us to approach you.  I thank you that you love us through Jesus; that you have made it clear in this story.  God I pray that you would help us to see that we are sinners, that all have fallen short of the glory of God, that none of us have worked our way to the table, none of us have earned our way to the table but we come to the table with you through Jesus, through forgiveness of sins, through Jesus dying on the cross for us and giving us his very righteousness.  Thank you for inviting us to come as we are.  Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for transforming us through that forgiveness and I pray that you help us to grow in our faith in you.


We pray in Jesus name, Amen. 

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