Jesus is the Son of Man
How Forgiveness affects us
All right! Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 7. As always, if you do not own a Bible or if you need a Bible, please see me after the service and I will get one into your hands as our gift to you.
We have been walking with Luke through his Gospel as he has been telling the story of Jesus ministry here on earth. What Luke has been showing us is that Jesus was both exceeding expectations of who people thought he was and completely subverting and undermining expectations of who people thought the Messiah was going to be.
To be clear, as Luke has shown us in his Gospel, Jesus was the Son of Man. He was the Son of God. He was the promised Messiah. He was Christ. But he wasn’t acting like it. At least not according to what the people of Israel were expecting. As we saw last week, even John the Baptist didn’t understand Jesus’ ministry and had some moments of doubt as to whether or not he was the Messiah.
We have seen Luke show us that Jesus, during his ministry did many signs and wonders. He healed people, people with infirmities, diseases and leprosy. He cast out unclean spirits. He even raised people from the dead. But in addition to those signs and wonders, Jesus ministered and taught with compassion, mercy and grace. He extended this compassion to outsiders, those whom the religious leaders of the day would not have even bothered given a second look at. We saw the Centurion’s servant healed, we saw the widowed mom’s son raised up, well we will actually look at the story on Easter Sunday, but Luke already put forth that story in his Gospel. And Jesus taught as one having a true and right understanding of the law and the Word of God.
And as we saw in the scripture reading this morning and the story we are about the read; Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins. This last one really made the religious leaders mad and genuinely confused them. When he did this, Jesus claimed to be God, for only God had the authority to forgive sins.
So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50. As always, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I greatly encourage you to read along in your preferred translation so you can read for yourself what the Word of God says. Luke is recording the ministry and life of Jesus under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he writes the following.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at 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[h] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Thus, saith the Word of the LORD.
So, after all we have seen Jesus do so far, we now see that one Pharisee, whom we later see is named Simon, one Pharisee wants to have Jesus over to his house for dinner. Now, there are many, many theories and opinions as to why Simon invited Jesus over. Everything from wanting to trip Jesus up, to embarrass him, to Simon being curious about Jesus, some even think that Simon didn’t really want anything to do with Jesus, but there was a status, an esteem that people would have for him for hosting a traveling teaching rabbi in his home, which was what Jesus was.
But we have to be clear that Scripture does not give us any indications, no clues as to the motivation or the goals of Simon. So, we have to be very, very careful if we choose to speculate.
And let’s review who the Pharisees were in this time. They were they ones who tried to hold as closely to Gods law as possible. They were the ultra-conservative, moral majority. They were the right wing political/religious party. They were so worried about being a sinner, that they added many layers onto Gods law and made sure outward, moral behavior was important but had not heart, no mercy and no grace.
Jesus received the invitation that Simon extended, for whatever reason he did, and he accepted. IT made me laugh when I read one commentator say that Jesus “was willing to eat with anyone, even Pharisees.”
Some commentators talk about the open floor plan and that a dinner like this, at a well-off persons home would have been kind of in a open air credenza type setting. Somewhere that could have people coming and going, watching like it was a spectator event.
This is used to explain how the women in this story get into the dinner and was able to get up to Jesus. Another commentator suggests that any Pharisee throwing a party like that would have had a doorman or a guard, and this lady, because of her alabaster flask would have looked the part and gained entrance that way.
The reason I tell you some of these alternate theories for what happens or how things happen is not to toss out idle speculation, but to point out that there is so much that scripture doesn’t tell us and that if scripture doesn’t tell us, we need to remember that it is only theory, and not as certain as scripture. We all assume things into the scripture, but as long as we recognize that, we can make sure that we hold to the authority of scripture and scripture alone.
However, this woman gained entrance to the dinner party, a “woman of the city,”, a sinner was there. Many speculate on her sinfulness, often speculating that she was a prostitute, but again, scripture doesn’t say. What we do know is that whatever her sin, it was publicly and well know. She would never have been invited. The Pharisees believed in salvation by isolation. They thought just knowing a sinful person, let alone spending any sort of time with them would rub off on them and wipe away much of their own righteousness.
This woman just knew that Jesus was there, and she needed to see him. She gained entrance and she brought with her an alabaster flask of ointment. It would have been an expensive possession to have. She approached Jesus and she was so overwhelmed by the grace, love and mercy of Jesus Christ that she can’t hold back her tears. She cried all over his feet, soaking them. He would have been sitting on the floor, with his feet out behind him, leaning n his left hand, eating with his right hand. She came up behind him and cried tears onto his feet and them tried to dry his feet with her hair. Showing her hair like this in public, would have also been, in that society, an indecent showing, further cementing her status as someone not worthy of being around proper company.
She further humbled herself before Jesus and kept kissing his feet. She anointed him her ointment and she literally humbled herself as low as she could possibly physically go.
Simon saw all this happen and knew that Jesus was not a prophet. Again, we get no indication of whether he was surprised or if his thought was confirmed. But he had proof in his mind that Jesus was now no prophet. Maybe Jesus didn’t know who she was, what kind of sinner she was. If not, he was no prophet of God. OR maybe he knew and worse yet, didn’t care. IF that was the case, he certainly could not be a man of God. This is exactly one of the kinds of judgments that Jesus warns against in Matthew 7 and back at the beginning of Luke 6.
The mindset was that a man of God, a prophet would never have let a sinful woman do what she was doing to Him. And so, it was time to reject Jesus as prophet, let alone more than that. Jesus told them, when we looked at last weeks passage, that they had a history of rejecting all the prophets that God had sent to them, no matter who they were or what they spoke to Israel. Scripture is clear that time and time again, God sent prophets to Israel, to speak the Word of the LORD, and they were rejected, often beaten or killed for the messages they relayed.
Simon didn’t say any of this out load, to anyone around him. He said it all to himself, inside his mind. We have to be really careful of this attitude regarding our interaction with sinners and sinful people. First of all, this should need to be a disclaimer, but lest we think more highly of ourselves than we ought, all of us are still sinners, all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. So, it is not sinless people against sinful people. It is sinners saved by grace and sinners who think they don’t need a savior.
We need to be careful if those who we spend time around lead us into temptation and lead us into sin. If that’s the case, we need to remove our selves from those situations. The answer is not to shoot people who cause our temptations. But to acknowledge our own responsibility in putting the sin inside of us to death. John Owen famously said, “Be killing sin or it be killing you.”
However, we are called to be a part of this world that we are living in as we wait for the consummation of the Kingdom of God. We are called to extend love, mercy and grace, just as Jesus did, to those around us. Those of you who were here Thursday evening, you heard our Village Missions district Rep, Richard Hayes talks about his. The idea of showing love and building connections and relationships with those around us, those who are perishing, those who are lost, as we seek to gain an audience with them in order to share the good, life saving news of the gospel.
We are not to simply be a “inviting church,” be we are to be inviting people to come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of people out there are open to hearing the gospel, and many are willing to attend church if there are invited. But few will go out of there way to actively seek the Gospel or a church if their heart is not already change by the Holy Spirit, if god is not already calling them. So, this salvation by isolation that I mentioned earlier that was how the Pharisees lived and thought, though I should point out that they would not see it this way, and so many other Christians and Churches think and live this way is not just wrong biblically but also strategically. We can’t plant seeds from in here. We must go out and invite. Go out and share. Not bunker down and close our selves off but go and make ourselves vulnerable and plant the seeds Christ has called us to plant and to make disciples.
Back to Simon and Jesus. Simon had these thoughts in hi head about who Jesus was, or more accurately, who he was not. He didn’t speak them out loud, but Jesus knew them anyway.
And he responded with one of the simplest, clearest parables in the Gospels. The story of the money lender and two debtors. There were two guys who owed money. One was 2 months wages, the other, about two years’ worth of wages. Neither of them could pay their debt. The man that they owed the money to cancelled both of their debts. No conditions, no strings, just a simple act of mercy bestowed on two men who didn’t deserve it. They did nothing to earn it and they certainly couldn’t repay it.
Jesus asks Simon, “Which of these men appreciated it more?” Now, of course, in that situation, both men would have been grateful. But which one more? Simple question.
Simon didn’t want it to be a simple question. He knew what Jesus was saying. Simon does not come across as a dumb guy. He knows what point Jesus is making and he doesn’t like it. So he answer Jesus. Which one was more grateful? He says, “I suppose the one who had the greater debt.”
I suppose… That answer makes me think of the parable of the good Samaritan. We will get to that later on in Luke, but at the end, Jesus asks the group he is talking to, Which of these men proved to be a neighbor to the man who was beaten? When the scribe answered, The one who showed him mercy. You can hear the disgust and the contempt falling off of his lips. I feel the same here from Simon. He doesn’t want to give the right answer, so he says dismissively, I suppose…
Despite his reticence, Simon gives the right answer. Jesus affirms it! He says, You have judged righty! RC Sproul comments that this is probably one of the very few times that the Pharisee made a judgment that was right.
Jesus continues to talk to Simon, rebuking him. He says, all the things you were supposed to do for me, as a guest, all the tenets of hospitality that our society demands of you, you didn’t. No water to wash my feet. No kiss of greeting. No anointing my head with oil. Instead this woman that you are judging and looking down on, she did them all for me instead. She washed my feet with her tears and her hair. She kissed my feet and she anointed my with her ointment. He tells Simon, Yeah she has a lot of sins. Her sins are many. But through her faith, her sins are forgiven.
We see that this woman, through her actions, shows that she understands how big that forgiveness is, what a big deal it is to have her sins forgiveness. One who has few sins, does not think their sins are a big deal.
See its not that having fewer sins is a bad thing. Its that people who live what they consider to be less sinful lives tend to justify their few sins and not think they those few sins need forgiveness.
The Pharisees, to their credit, strove to be holy. This is what we are all called to do. Both Peter and Jesus in Matthews Gospel tells us that we are supposed to be perfect and holy like God is. That is Gods standard. And the Pharisees tried to live up to that standard of Holiness. However, they left out grace, mercy, compassion and love, which are integral to true, pure holiness. One commentator notes, “A life of love is a grateful response of a sinner who has found true forgiveness in Jesus Christ.”
Jesus then turns to the woman and authoritatively declares to her that her sins are forgiven. Now, she already knew this and he already said it to Simon. Why say it again here? Well the short answer is, “I don’t know.” But here is what I know. We all need to be reassured at times. We all need to be told time and again that our sins actually are forgiven. We all sometimes have trouble believing Gods grace, mercy and forgiveness. We can intellectually memorize and remember 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can know that and still forget it practically sometimes.
Now, of course, after Jesus said this to her, everyone else was question who he thought he was. Why would he think he had the authority to forgive sins? Only God can do that.
Jesus turns to the woman, knowing the thoughts of the rest of the people in the room and finishes by telling her that he faith has saved her and to go in peace. See, our salvation is by faith alone. Not faith and love. Not faith and works. Nor faith and anything. Just faith alone.
Ephesians 2:8 & 9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
The woman was saved by her faith, but she cant boast about her faith. The faith that saved her was a gift from God.
In the end, there are only two groups of people in this world. RC Sproul lays them out. He writes: “There are two kinds of people in the world: people whose sins have been forgiven and those whose sins have not been forgiven. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who repent of their sins and those who remain steadfast in their impenitence. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who heap lavish praise and adoration on Jesus and those who refuse to submit to Him.
And he is right. Those are our only two options. Salvation by grace through faith in Christ, or eternal hellfire and suffering. By grace through faith, we get to hear “Your sins are forgiven.” How great indeed is that?
The debt of our sins forgiven. It is completely wiped out. No conditions, no strings, just a simple act of mercy bestowed on us who didn’t deserve it. We did nothing to earn it and we certainly couldn’t repay it. How sweet the sound, how amazing the grace.
Lets finish with the lyrics to Amazing Grace then Ill pray:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.