Faithlife
Faithlife

Choosing Intimacy

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Luke 7:36–50 NIV
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 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. 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. 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.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 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?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 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. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In Luke Chapter 7, we read about two people who encounter Jesus on very different paths.
Jesus is invited to eat at Simon the Pharisee’s house.
Simon doesn’t give Jesus a kiss when He walks in, though that was the custom—at least on the hand.
Typically the custom would’ve been to wash the feet of your guest or to have a servant do it. Jesus’ feet went unwashed.
Oftentimes when you had a guest, especially a distinguished guest, you would give them some inexpensive olive oil to anoint their head. That was their custom. None of this happened for Jesus.
So Jesus is eating at this house of this pretender, and in the middle of their meal there is an uninvited guest.
And the Bible tells us in Luke 7 that she’s a known sinner, a woman of ill repute. She walks into this house and she is weeping and she is crying, and she falls at the feet of Jesus and the tears are now dripping off her cheeks and onto the dirty, muddy feet of Jesus that should’ve been washed by the Pharisee.
And she sees that they’re not washed; she sees how her tears are making the dirt run off of His feet, and she undoes her hair.
I don’t think she planned this. She would’ve assumed His feet would be cleaned, but they were dirty.
So with her tears she washes His feet and with her hair she dries His feet. She begins to kiss them, crying, broken. She pulls out a jar of very expensive perfume and she pours it on His feet.
Let’s freeze that moment; we’ll come back to it. Keep this story in mind as we talk a little bit about intimacy.
I’m not sure if you know this or not, but when a baby is born, it cries a lot.
It has no other way to communicate, no other way to say what it wants or needs.
When my children were babies and they were crying, I never knew what was wrong.
I could never figure it out.
I mean I was trying.
I tried to understand what they needed, but I just didn’t know.
And when I didn’t know, I would try everything.
Process of elimination, right?
I’d pick them up and hug them, give them the bottle, change the diaper—38 seconds flat is my best time.
When their cries got especially desperate, I would turn the channel from SportsCenter over to Teletubbies.
In the end, though, I didn’t know what to do.
But my wife just knew. She would listen to the cry and say, “Oh, she’s tired.” Sure, enough, the baby needed a nap.
Or she’d say, “Oh, she’s hungry,” and so you’d give the baby a bottle and all was right with the world.
My wife would hear another cry and she’d say, “Oh, she needs her diaper changed. She wants her daddy to change it.”  At that point, I figured that my daughter wasn’t really asking for me to change the diaper, but you don’t argue with the baby whisperer.
Still, despite using her ability to get me to change diapers, my wife had an intimate, intuitive connection with all of our babies.
In fact, there’s almost no relationship more intimate than a mother and her baby.
Because a mother is able to know and understand her child’s wants and needs in a way that no one else can.
Surely you’ve been in a room before with friends or family and a baby starts to get fussy?
All of the sudden, everyone’s passing around that shrieking baby like a hot potato, hoping to see who has the magic touch. Nobody can get the baby quiet, but then mom walks in the room, and the baby just hears the voice of the mother and is somehow calmed.  
That’s an intimate relationship, knowing and being known completely.
In a picture, that’s intimacy. And until you’ve witnessed or been in that kind of relationship, you won’t know what intimacy is.
I could read you the definition, explain where the word comes from or how the word is used, but you wouldn’t really know what intimacy is.
You would just know about intimacy

God Knows You Intimately

Probably the best Biblical word for intimacy is the word “know.”
It is first used in the context of relationships in Genesis 4:1
Genesis 4:1 KJV 1900
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
simply says this: that Adam knew his wife Eve.
That’s from the King James—we’re going old school, here.
And the Hebrew word for “know” here is the word “yada’.”
The definition for yada’ is “to know and to be known completely.”
This is the picture of an intimate connection on every level
To know, to be known.
 There are other Hebrew words that could have been used, words used later in Scripture referring to the physical act, or even procreation, but here it is this intimate connecting.
When most look at it this's scripture they see a a man and a woman laying together
The NIV interprets as Adam laid with his wife
But it's so much more
One Hebrew scholar calls it, “A mingling of the souls.”
 If you trace the usage of yada’ through the Old Testament, you’ll find that over and over again, this is the same word that’s used to describe God’s relationship with us.  
Over and over, yada’ is the word that’s used to describe how God knows you and how He wants to be known by you.
Weird, right?
The same word, the same connection used to describe a man and a wife is used to describe how God wants to know you.
This completely changed the way I saw my relationship with God.
Thinking of the day-in day-out connection that my wife and I have, I’m embarrassed to look at how my connection with God compares.
I wasn’t connecting with God the way I connect with my wife.
But learning this taught me something: my relationship to Jesus is not a weekend fling.
It’s not a casual encounter.
It is yada’, a deep knowing.
It’s intimacy. David uses the word yada’ about six times to describe how God knows us in Psalm 139. He writes:
Psalm 139 NASB95
For the choir director. A Psalm of David. O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
You know, You know, You know. David speaks to God in this intimate way.
It says, “God, You know how I feel, You know how I hurt, You know what I’m thinking.”

God Wants You to Know Him

While it’s crazy that God knows us that deeply and intimately, it’s even more crazy to me that God invites us to know Him.
God wants His soul to mingle with ours.
For some wild reason, the Creator of Heaven and Earth has offered an invitation to you and me.
He’s opened his heart and said, “I want you to know me more closely and minutely than you know anyone else.
I want you to know my heart, to connect with me on a level that can only be reached through the most vulnerable intimacy.
I want our souls to come together, for both of us to know the other deeply and wholly.”
When we read that in Scripture, it sounds kind of poetic and beautiful like classical literature.
I think people are comfortable reading that like they would a piece of poetry.
But if someone actually sent you a letter with that in it, you’d probably freak out a little bit.
Reading that from a real person, wouldn’t it kind of make you blush?
It’s almost too much, right?
You feel almost claustrophobic when you get done reading it.
That’s ok.
Many of us have a hard time knowing how to deal with intimacy.
We can do pretty well at avoiding it, but when it’s right in our faces, some of us kind of lose it.
That’s why it’s not surprising that one of the most common responses to intimacy is fear.
You could understand that, right?
Honestly, intimacy can be pretty scary, because it involves allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
And many people fear intimacy with others and with God because they know that vulnerability and pain go hand-in-hand.
So many people have experienced a betrayal, or a crushing blow from someone close to them.
They opened up, they made themselves vulnerable, and then someone let them down.
And when we make ourselves vulnerable to God, we know He’s going to find some things that we’re not proud of.
Think of the sinful woman in Luke 7.
A woman of ill repute, she knew
she had sin in her life that made her unworthy to touch the Messiah.
And because we’ve all fallen short, we know that God’s going to look into our lives and find things that He doesn’t condone.
So it kind of makes sense that many people would be afraid of that vulnerability.
But followers know that there’s so much more gained from intimacy with God, because then we know that He’s there with us through any pain we endure.
That comfort, knowing that God’s with you, can only come through intimacy.

Fans Choose Knowledge, Followers Embrace Intimacy

But in church, we’ve often failed to embrace that kind of intimacy with Jesus. Instead, we’ve created a system focused around learning, not unlike Simon and the other Pharisees.
Admittedly, our default setting is knowledge, not intimacy.
Think about it:
We love having Bible Studies, many of which include some kind of workbook that includes a curriculum for working through a particular book of the Bible.
Sermons are accompanied, often with an outline members can fill out or follow.
Private Christian academies have been established all over the world, ranging from grade school to graduate studies, all of which offer different courses that study God: theology, exegesis, Greek, Hebrew, etc.
We even do it to our kids! They go to Sunday School, where they are taught lessons and
are assigned different Bible verses to memorize.
Some of them even compete in Bible Bowlcompetitions, all of which are won or lost depending on how much Biblical knowledge you’ve accumulated and how fast you can raise your hand or hit a button.
(And yes, I am a little bitter about never winning).
Don’t get me wrong: studying and learning from God’s Word is invaluable.
Jesus referenced, read, and quoted all kinds of passages from the Old Testament, ample proof that he had studied God’s Word with great care and diligence.
However, we can’t expect knowledge to replace intimacy, even though we often try to.
And I think we try to substitute knowledge for intimacy because knowledge is so much easier.
It’s easy for us to say, “Well, I know about Jesus,” but He wants to know us.
That’s where we find Simon the Pharisee.
He knew a lot about Jesus and his teachings, and he wanted to learn more.
He calls him Teacher, emphasizing that he’s most interested in learning from Jesus, not opening up to Jesus.
Simon sees all this woman does for Jesus, her embarrassing actions, and the Bible tells us in Luke chapter 7, verse 39 that, “When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus 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.’” And he says it to himself.
But Jesus, who knew Simon’s thoughts, answered him, “Look, I came in the house. You
did not give me a kiss, not even on my hand. She hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You gave
me nothing to wash my feet with, and she is washing my feet with her tears. You gave me
no olive oil for my head; she has poured perfume on my feet.” And people can just see the brokenness of this woman, and then Jesus turns to this woman and He says, “Your sins
are forgiven. Go in peace.” Simon brought Jesus to the meal, but all he wanted was knowledge.
He wanted to keep things shallow, and he defined his relationship by not washing Christ’s feet, not caring to kiss him, not being willing to anoint his head, but this woman was willing to open up to Jesus.
She made herself vulnerable, being totally willing to open up and let Jesus know her.

Will you let Jesus know you?

Will you embrace the close and intimate relationship He wants to have with you?
Are will just invite Him to table for Knowledge?
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