The Service will also include the baptism of
Most of us like receiving invitations to dinner parties, and Jesus was no exception. Here we find him attending a party at the home of one of his enemies, Simon the Pharisee. All of a sudden this cosy “men only” event was gate crashed by a local woman of sinful reputation who got all emotional, kissed and then anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume, much to the distaste of the host and his religious guests.
Jesus knew exactly what Simon and his cronies were thinking and so he shifted into story mode. Two men were mired in deep debt and were unable to repay their creditor, who could have had them thrown into debtor’s prison. Instead he decided to wipe the slate clean and let them off, even though one owed ten times more than the other. The question posed by Jesus was – Which of the two would be the most grateful and love the creditor more? Simon answered correctly – “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.” Jesus then went on to compare and contrast the shabby treatment afforded to him by Simon (no water, towel, kiss or oil, a symptom of a lack of love and gratitude); with that offered to him by the woman (tears, hair, kisses galore and perfume, symptomatic of deep love and gratitude.)
Both Simon and the un-named woman display very different attitudes towards the forgiveness of sin that have a very contemporary feel to them. Can you see yourself in one or other of the two main characters?
Simon – “2 Good!”
He could look at the woman and say – “she is a sinner;” but he could not look at himself and say – “I am a sinner.” He did not see the need for personal forgiveness, because after all he was outwardly religious and lived a good and exemplary life. Yet deep within there was pride and self righteousness that he seemed unwilling to acknowledge. And so because he thought of himself as 2 good, and having not been forgiven by Jesus, he “loved little” in return.
Challenge – Do you see yourself as being “2 good” to need God’s forgiveness of your sin?
None of us are perfect, we all need an awareness of personal sin (Luke 5 v 8 & Luke 18 v 13) because this is God’s diagnosis of each and every one of us- “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3 v 23.)
The Woman – “2 Bad!”
She was the “scarlet woman” of her community, whose sins were known to all and who probably thought that she was too bad to merit forgiveness. But how do we explain her over the top reaction to Jesus? Not long before this incident Jesus had given a general invitation – “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11 v 28.) Could it be that the woman had responded to this invitation, received forgiveness for her sin, and that this present show of lavish affection was her outrageous gratitude to Jesus for something that he had previously done? Here she “loved much” the one who had forgiven her sin, and to the annoyance of the other dinner guests Jesus then publically confirmed what was already a reality – “Your sins are forgiven; your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Challenge – Do you see yourself as being 2 bad to receive God’s forgiveness of your sin?
You may well have done some awful things, but God’s arms of forgiveness are long and loving (Isaiah 1 v 18 & Matthew 9 v 13) and none of us are beyond the reach of his grace and forgiveness – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1 v 9.)
Theme:”2 good ….. 2 bad!”
Reading: Luke 7 v 36 – 50
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes