Today, we’re concluding our message series entitled “New Life.” In this series, Jesus presents the Gospel in encounters with different kinds of people. The word Gospel in the Greek means “good news.” The Gospel is actually the best news ever heard in the world. The Gospel is that God loves you. He wants to forgive you and give you a new life that will last forever. All you need to do is to put your faith in Jesus. Everything that Jesus did on this earth was directed toward saving lost sinners.
Luke 19:10 (ESV) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
As believers, our goal should be the same. When we wake up in the morning, we should be praying, how can I seek the lost today. When we go to bed at night, we should be praying for the lost to be saved.
Today’s message is entitled “Finding Forgiveness.” We going to see Jesus offering forgiveness to another person with a bad reputation. You see, Jesus doesn’t really care about a person’s past life. He wants to forgive and give a new life.
Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Whether you’re a believer here this morning or not, you are included in the all of this verse. All have sinned. We all are in need of forgiveness. We all need a new life. When you’re forgiven by Jesus and you begin to realize how much He loves you, you are motivated to love Him back.
1 John 4:19 (ESV) We love because he first loved us.
As we realize that Jesus loved us enough to die on the cross for us, we love Him back with all we have. If we really love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds, then we will join Him in His mission of seeking the lost. We all need to grow in seeking and seeing the lost saved through our lives. Today, we’re going to look at a story in Luke 7 where Jesus encounters two people, a Pharisee and a sinful woman. We’re going to learn more about what new life means by looking at four questions.
Luke 7:36-37 (ESV) One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 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,
In this first two verses, we are introduced to the two people that Jesus is going to encounter in the story. First of all is the Pharisee, whose name we will learn is Simon. Simon is throwing a dinner party at his house and has invited Jesus to come.
The Pharisees were a group of Jewish leaders who were well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. They taught that one was made right with God through keeping the Old Testament laws. The Pharisees avoided interaction with anyone they deemed as sinner, as they thought it would defile them. In those days, people reclined around a dinner table with their feet extending out from the table. When a dinner was thrown for a famous person like Jesus, the doors of the house were open for onlookers to listen in on what the conversation was.
But we see there was an uninvited guest who appeared. A woman of the city, a sinner, which undoubtedly means that she was known as a prostitute. She had heard that Jesus, whom she had previously met, was at the Pharisee’s house, so she came with an alabaster flask of ointment. What happened next threw the entire dinner party into a turmoil.
Luke 7:38 (ESV) 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.
Rather than standing back in the shadows, this woman came forward and began to weep at Jesus’ feet. Then she let her hair down, which was never done in public, and began wiping his feet with her hair. As the crowd was looking aghast at what she was doing, she began kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. A flask of the ointment nard in those days would have sold for a year’s wages. And did Jesus do anything to stop her? Not a thing. As we’re going to see as we go through this story, the answer to our question “What does new life look like?” is …
This woman didn’t care what anybody else thought or said, she was determined to demonstrate an extravagant love for Jesus.
The question we need to ask ourselves this morning is “How are we demonstrating an extravagant love for Jesus?” Do we let what other people may think or say keep us from giving Jesus our love? How can we follow this woman’s example? The woman was worshipping Jesus through this our pouring of extravagant love.
We worship by letting others who aren’t believers know of our love for Jesus. We worship by giving sacrificially of our finances to Jesus’ church. We worship by ministering to the needs of the body of Christ. Let’s ask God to help us individually and as a church to grow in extravagant love for Jesus. Our next question is …
Luke 7:39 (ESV) 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.”
The Pharisee was appalled at both the woman’s behavior and Jesus’ lack of intervention. Not only was the woman a prostitute, her carrying on with Jesus appeared erotic and in very poor taste. No good Pharisee would have anything to do with a woman like that, let alone permit her to touch them.
Luke 7:40-42 (ESV) And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Jesus now calls the Pharisee by name, Simon and proceeds to tell him a story. The two debtors in the story owed a moneylender differing amounts. One 500 denarii, equivalent to about 20 months salary and the other 50 denarii or 2 months salary. The money lender cancels the debts of both debtors. Jesus then asks the key question “Which of these two debtors will love the lender more?” Simon doesn’t realize that Jesus is telling the story to expose him, so he answers.
Luke 7:43 (ESV) Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
What was the point of Jesus’ story? Jesus was answering the question “What determines your love for Jesus? And the answer is:
The debtor with the largest debt forgiven will love the forgiver the most. The debtor who believes they have little to be forgiven of will love the least.
How can we grow in our love for Jesus? As we go on with the story, we will see that the extravagant love of the woman is what Jesus desires for us to emulate. In this short parable, Jesus gives us the key to having a great love for Him. The key is to humble ourselves and see the greatness of the sin that we have been forgiven of. The Pharisee compared himself to the sinful woman and thought he was so much better. His pride got in the way of appreciating Jesus’ love and loving Him back.
We must look at our sin and rather than comparing to other people, compare ourselves to the sinless Jesus. Then we can begin to see the magnitude of our sin. When we look at the terror of eternal hell that Jesus has rescued us from, we can grow in our love and appreciation for Him. Our next question is …
Luke 7:44-46 (ESV) 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. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
Jesus then contrasts the behavior of Simon, the host of the dinner party and the sinful woman, the uninvited guest. The three behaviors that Jesus mentions were the normally expected hospitality for a dinner host in those days. Water to wash feet, a kiss of welcome and an anointing of the head with olive oil. Simon had not even fulfilled the normal customs of the day to honor a respected guest like Jesus. The sinful woman, on the other hand, had fulfilled these three customs in an extravagant display of love for Jesus. So the symptoms of pride, displayed by Simon, the Pharisee are …
Jesus has just pointed out the lack of love and hospitality displayed to Him by Simon. Not only had Simon shown little love for Jesus, he had nothing but disdain for this woman. Simon considered her such a sinner that he wanted nothing to do with her and surely wished that she had not crashed his dinner party.
So, in Simon, the Pharisee, we have a negative example, someone we are not to be like. We have already spoken about how comparing our sins to others is detrimental in realizing the magnitude of our sin. When we think our sin is small, we have little love for Jesus. When we think our sin is small in comparison to others, we become prideful and want nothing to do with greater sinners. Yet, God would have us realize that but for God’s grace, we would have missed eternal life. Without God’s forgiveness, we would be headed for eternal hell. May God help us to humble ourselves and consider the great sin we have been forgiven of. Our last question is …
Luke 7:47-48 (ESV) Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus has just contrasted the woman’s loving behavior with the coldness of Simon. According to the parable, the woman, who is like the greater debtor, loves the most, for she realizes how great a debt she has been forgiven. Undoubtedly, the woman had previously met or listened to Jesus, put her faith in Him and been forgiven. Now, Jesus is announcing to the dinner crowd that her sins were forgiven, resulting in her great love. Yet, those who believe they have been forgiven little, will love little, like Simon.
Luke 7:49-50 (ESV) Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Simon had thought Jesus was not even a prophet, but now those at the dinner were questioning Jesus’ identity. They knew that only God could forgive sins. Not only were the woman’s sins forgiven, Jesus now makes it clear that the faith of the woman in Him has saved her. When Jesus instructs her to go in peace, we realize that she is now at peace with God. Her old way of life is gone and new life has come. What is the lesson we can learn from Jesus’ example in this story?
In the story we have a great contrast between how Simon, the Pharisee, treated the woman and how Jesus treated her. Jesus showed her great love and respect. He led her to believing in Him, having her sins forgiven and being saved. We will see her in heaven one day. Jesus is our examples and we are to love sinners as He did. We are to tell them about Jesus, the only one who can forgive their sins and give them new life.
In closing, let’s watch video that will help us understand better this sinful woman and the transformative new life that she found. It’s simply called Sinful Woman. For those who aren’t sure you have this new life that Jesus offers, be encouraged to put your trust in Him this morning. For those who are believers, there are people like this woman all around us. Ask God to give you opportunities to share Jesus’ love with them.