Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Pharisee & the Woman weeping at Jesus' Feet: The Two Debtors

What does it really mean to say our sins are truly forgiven? In our Christian faith we call that justification. A word rooted in the word justice. Which is what my name comes from, justin, means justice or to be justified.

“What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as righteous--as if he had not sinned. The basis for this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, merit that we can plead as if it were our own. He has taken our place and died in our stead; He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own heads if He had not interposed.” -Albert Barnes

That is the meaning of the forgiveness we’ve received in Jesus Christ. Our sins those terrible things we did, little, small, big, giant, all forgiven by Jesus. Paid in full by Him. And today we’re going to look at what it means to be so amazed by that blanket forgiveness that it draws great love out of us.

Today we find ourselves addressing the last of the parables, which we find in Luke chapter 7. Jesus was ministering in various ways to those in need of healing and even healed the child of a roman soldier, after he sent a response to a request made by John the Baptist who was in prison at this point. It’s an excellent chapter, your homework today is to go home and read Luke chapter 7 and see all that Jesus did, it's a good round picture of who Jesus was in his public ministry.

But here we find Jesus meeting in the home of a Pharisee. Let’s just dive right in, from Luke 7:36-50

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.”

So in these first few verses we see the context for our parable today. Jesus is ministering to a pharisee, but a woman who was a known sinner came and wept at Jesus’ feet. The Pharisees response is telling. He is offended at the woman who is there.

Sometimes we can find ourselves offended as well, at those around us who have not received Christ. Or even those who have! Let’s see how Jesus responds.

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, 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.

Jesus is explaining the paradoxical nature of how salvation in Christ works. We would assume that someone who is in the depths of sin is not worthy of Christ. We’d be mistaken. Paradoxically that is one who will be even more deeply in love with Christ, because they’ve been forgiven such a lengthy list of sins.

Jesus often drew this comparison between the pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, and the common sinners who would often come to Jesus for mercy and forgiveness and to listen to him teach.

Interestingly enough, though Pharisees could just as well follow Jesus and obey Him and find eternal life, often the sinners who came to Christ would find a much deeper love and commitment to Christ, because of the intensity of the amazing grace poured out to them.

It continues, 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.”

Jesus is drawing a comparison between the woman and the pharisee. The pharisee is apparently a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t particularly welcoming to Jesus, he didn’t provide the various courtesies, done upon entry, but the woman treated Jesus with great respect and adoration.

And a result this love she showed for Jesus was evidence that her sins were forgiven. They were forgiven by Jesus.

Then in verses 48-50 it concludes like this:

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.”

So in our parable today we find a fairly basic principle, but I think we’re seeing that it’s not really as basic as we might think, it’s; the concept of the weight of one’s love linked to the amount that one has received forgiveness.

This parable is linking love with forgiveness, if I’ve been forgiven a small amount of debt by someone, my love and appreciation for them will exist, but it will be small. I owe someone $50 they forgive the debt, don’t worry about it man, that’s great, I’m free of that debt. But it’s not the biggest deal.

Now say I owe someone $50,000. And they come along, or a get a letter in the mail, and they forgive the debt, my appreciation and amazement is going to be much higher isn’t it?

How many sins have you committed in your life up to this point? Every lie. Every manipulation. Every ill-spoken word. Every drunken spree. Every theft. Every time you hated someone in your heart. Every woman, or man you used or misused. For some of us it’s a very long list. For some it’s not as long. But we were all in that pit of mud, all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

That’s why we needed a savior to come, Jesus Christ, to forgive us.

I want to talk about three seats in this parable. Three seats, and which we want to be in.

In this parable, we sometimes find ourselves in the seat of the pharisee, judging someone else who sins differently than us, or more than us, and we scoff at the possibility of them coming to Christ.

There are people who come to the corps, or who I see around town, that I’ve seen and known for years, and I sometimes can end up with an attitude of the pharisee thinking they could never come to repentance. But only God knows. That assumption may be accurate that they have refused Christ, most do, from what I can tell, most people refuse Christ. So it may not be an inaccurate assumption, but that isn’t my position to sit in and make that judgment. I have to regard them in my heart as an opportunity to share the love of Jesus. That isn’t always easy.

Be careful of ending up in the seat of the pharisee. Because our ire for the person Jesus may just regard as ire for him. The pharisee thought poorly of the woman who was a known sinner. This was an attitude predating the incident because we know he did not treat Jesus with the appropriate level of respect, you have God in human form in your home but you don’t anoint his head with oil, or offer him water to wash his feet or even give him a ceremonial kiss. His proud attitude caused him to disregard the savior, or at least not treat him with great respect.

Maybe that’s true for some of us who have bene forgiven a shorter list of sins. We don’t love Jesus very deeply. And hopefully by humbling ourselves, we can learn to love him more and more deeply. Though I don’t know if that’s actually implied in the parable. That may be true though.

Second, some of you may end up in the seat of Jesus at the table. You don’t want to end up this seat either. You don’t want to be in the seat of the pharisee or the seat of Jesus. Some of you may have a savior complex, they call this in psychology the martyr complex, where you’re constantly dying for others, which dying to self and helping others and being poured out for others is vital, but, sometimes we end up rushing toward people who don’t really want to change, and we get the martyr complex, do everything for them, almost dragging them behind us, to try to force them to change, and inevitably, they slide back into the mud and mire, because they were never really ready or even interested, not fully, in salvation or growth or a new life. Many, most are just not there yet, unfortunately.

And we don’t do them any favors by trying to drag them into the kingdom of God kicking and screaming, that’s not our job, let God do that, and sometimes he does. But only Jesus can make people ready to receive salvation.

The parent who constantly rescues her son or daughter from court dates, or jail or homelessness or bills is probably in most circumstances simply enabling their disfunction. Sometimes we have to let people chase the wind, so they can realize just how vacuous and empty it is to chase nothingness.

Thirdly, we want to find ourselves in the chair of the woman. The woman with the alabaster ointment. She is so amazed by what Jesus has done for her, she weeps at his feet, and she anoints his feet with oil, she kisses his feet, she is in total submission to God. She is internally bursting with the life of God, with love itself, bubbling up out of her, like a river, pouring itself out onto the feet of Jesus. Total humility, at the feet of the savior.

And that has been our purpose during this entire sermon series. Parables of Jesus, sitting at the feet of the master. We ought to always find ourselves kneeling at the feet of Jesus.

In tears, amazement, amazing grace attitude at what hes’ done to justify us in His sight. To wash away all our sins.

Listening to him teach, listening and learning from Him.

Kissing his feet, offering up our prayers as a fragrent aroma to God.

Humbly knelt down at his feet, submitted to God, in total subjection to His will and plan for our lives.

In such deep love with Jesus, Jesus says to us again and again in life, Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.