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Sept 26 2010 - Wrong view of forgiveness Lk 7 36-50

Notes & Transcripts

A Wrong view of Forgiveness

Luke 7 36-50

36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and 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 men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned towards 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—for she loved much. But he who 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.”

 

This story has many echoes in the N.T. – there are several occasions when a woman came to anoint the Lord Jesus. It is not always easy to tell which account is which.  

This one is distinctive. Luke says it took place at the house of Simon the Pharisee.  

Simon’s meal was notable for a number of things: Jesus was present, Simon seems to have forgotten some of the manners of his time, and the party was gate-crashed by the woman.

It is a story about attitudes to Sin and Forgiveness and Jesus

 

Observe then: 

Ø     Sin and Failure

Ø     Sin and Debt

Ø     Sin and Jesus

The obvious contrast is between Simon and the woman. It is a contrast which eloquently demonstrates

·        The danger of double standards

·        The debasing of love and devotion

·        The denial of the power to forgive

Sin and Failure               a gatecrasher

There were two main failures on that occasion. The failure of the woman which brought her in the end to the feet of Jesus – and the failure of Simon the Pharisee whose attitude is all wrong, and who seems to have forgotten all the ordinary niceties of hospitality.

The woman’s failure is of course associated with her life of sin.

37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,

These were widely known – even though they are in the past:

Who had lived a sinful life..............................                     v37

 

Simon mutters about 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.”   V39

This sinful failure is also to be seen in Simon’s attitude to the woman – he does not see a penitent – but is embarrassed by her intrusion into his meal.   He needs Jesus to draw attention to her in a different way:

44 Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?

 

But the real failure on the part of Simon lay in the way he treated Jesus:

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.

There is no doubt at all as to who had lived the most sinful life that day.  The woman was – or had been a well known sinner of the town.  There can be little doubt about how she was regarded by all the guests.     She had undoubtedly FAILED

Simon was undoubtedly a respected citizen.

He had sufficient means to open his house to Jesus and invite Him.

He had clear views about morality and forgiveness – based upon the received wisdom and traditions and the back-to-basics philosophies of the time!

He knew what kind of woman she was – and he had a certain expectation of how she should be treated – and recognised.

Yet for all his social standing and sense of moral outrage HE HAD FAILED

-         Failed to accord to Jesus the courtesies he deserved

-         Failed to recognise true devotion – seeing only “sin”

-         Failed to love – because he knew so little about forgiveness!

Which description best fits us?

We will not have the notorious background of the woman –

But do we have her open attitude to it?

Do we come as willingly to express our devotion to the One who has secured our forgiveness?

Or is it easier for us to see the sins of others – whilst unaware of our own failures. Failures to give to Jesus the courtesies – the honour due to Him?

We do not gather at Simon’s house – we stand beneath the Cross.

Sin and Debt             a short story

The woman recognised her indebtedness.

37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and 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.

Like Mary she brought a jar of perfume – doubtless precious.

She ignored        convention

                             Criticism

                             Cynical onlookers

She lavished on her Lord the devotion of a heart that had known sin and been forgiven.

She knew what DEBT was – she felt the great indebtedness of one who has been forgiven much.

She rendered the debt of love.

How do I know that she recognised that indebtedness?

I see it in her generosity, her tears, her kisses.

Simon, however, though he was doubtless a man of both integrity and substance –

-         Misunderstood her actions

-         Did not see the work of forgiveness for her

-         Needed a lesson in debt  (vv 41-43)

So Jesus had “something to tell him” v 40

A story of freely CANCELLED DEBTS and evident LOVE – at the end of which he grudgingly admits that the one who was forgiven most loved most.  He has no such sense of indebtedness.

But he does have a debt to Jesus – a small indebtedness for a man who felt little need of forgiveness.   His was the debt of social failure:-

“You did not … did not … did not …”

I have to believe that our Lord’s words stung him with their rebuke and regret – and o how I wish that Simon changed as a result of that story about debt.

How do we see our debt to Jesus?

Are we willing to endure the criticism in order to show Him how much we love Him?

Are we willing to come right up to Him and weep and wipe and care?

Or only willing to           listen

                                      Criticise   …  Fail ?

Sin and Jesus                a visiting Saviour

Although this story is about the contrast between the woman and Simon – it is also from the point of view of Luke who recounts it – the story of the Saviour.

Simon may be the host at that meal – but Jesus is the focus of attention.  Doubtless that was one of the reasons why Simon had invited him to his house – so that other Pharisees and guests would see the One whom the crowds listened to and followed.

In this beautifully told story we see Jesus as the woman saw Him and as Simon saw Him.

She comes directly to His feet and worships.   He mumbles about “this man were a prophet…”

 

 

The woman saw Jesus as the focus of her attention – her love – her devotion.

She recognised in Him the source of the needed forgiveness – and the One who deserved all her devotion!

Simon saw what he thought was the failure of Jesus to recognise the woman’s sinful reputation.

He saw a great display of devotion and interpreted it as improper.

More importantly – he did NOT see Jesus as the True Prophet and the Forgiving Lord.

Simon had no need for the Jesus that the woman revered – for he saw no need of forgiveness and so no need of adoration.

He failed to see the Saviour as the source of a needed forgiveness.

I would like to think that, having been reminded of his failure to provide the common courtesies of the host – he would apologise.

I would like to think that later he would understand his own need of forgiveness – then he might himself be able to welcome the woman as a fellow forgiven believer.

Jesus speaks to both – and in very different ways:

To Simon – it is a masterpiece of the way Jesus approaches those who are outside of faith:

He attracts his attention:

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.

He answered his thoughts – and got his attention.

He tells him a story                the story of the two debtors

He applies it:

44 Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?

There’s a beautiful touch just there in the story as Luke tells it:

Jesus turned towards the woman and said to Simon…

 

That is at the heart of what Jesus does.  He knows that we are easily concerned with the sins of others – so He sees that – but speaks to US!

And when He does so He asks that question which is at the heart of the story

“Do you see this woman?”

 

As if Simon could have failed to see her!  - But indeed he had!  He saw a notorious woman of the neighbourhood – he does not see someone whose sins are forgiven!

He has an entirely wrong view of forgiveness. To Simon forgiveness is at the heart of the Temple worship – it is ornamented with the layers of tradition at which the Pharisees excelled – he thinks it is something gained by those processes.  WE sense his resentment echoed in the words of the other guests:

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

That is why Jesus had to point out the contrast between the woman and Simon – because the real sinner here is Simon – not because he has failed in hospitality – and certainly did that:

“You did not … did not … did not …”

But because he saw no need of personal forgiveness from Jesus.

Far more powerful than that little parable are the words Simon must hear – both those addressed to him and to the woman:

47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

For the woman Christ’s words are affirming and redeeming.

She cannot help but hear as Jesus describes her to Simon – that He has received her worship and her gratitude as one who understand not only the actions of the pentitent – but the heart of the woman!

·        A public statement   “her many sins have been forgiven”

·        A personal statement   v48  “Your sins are forgiven!”

·        And something more:

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

·        Go in peace!    A perfect work!

How do we see our sin and Jesus?

How much do we love?

For love is not only the source of forgiveness – it is the outcome of forgiveness.

How do we rate             Failure

                                      Debt

                                      Jesus

As those who stand at the foot of the Cross rather than sit in the house of Simon.

As those who know that Jesus came to die for them?

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