June 12, 2016

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10

                                      2 Samuel 12:13-15

Epistle Lesson; Galatians 2:11-21

Sermon Text; Luke 7:36-50

The Word of God we look at today, is taken from our Gospel Lesson, Luke, chapter 7, looking at verses 36 – 50. Let's hear God's Word.

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 the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 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. 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.” 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 canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 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. 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.” 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.”

These are your words. Heavenly Father, lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


There is a Spanish story that goes something like this. There was a father and son who were estranged from one another. The son ran away. The father spent a considerable amount of time, trying to find his son, trying to track down his son. Two months went by, and he couldn't find his son. So, he put an ad in the Madrid newspaper. The ad simply said, “Dear Paco,” (that was his son's name),

“Dear Paco,

Meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon, on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you.


Your dad”

Well, that upcoming Saturday, at noon, there were 800 Paco's who showed up in front of the newspaper office, because they were desiring to receive forgiveness, and love from their father.

That is what our lesson for today is all about. Our lesson for today is about forgiveness.

In this lesson about forgiveness, and love, we are going to be talking about two groups of people.

       -We are going to be talking about Simon, who was a Pharisee.        -We are going to be talking about the woman, who was a sinner, but repentant and sorry, because of her sin.

Before we look at these two individuals, I want to talk about what happened right before our text for today. It is a discussion about Jesus, and John the Baptist. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. At the end of that conversation, there were two groups of people who had opposing views.

       -One of those groups were the Pharisees, (which we will talk about in a moment).

       -The other were the sinners.

Here is the different mindset they had about Jesus, and they had about salvation.

       -The one group said, all the people, even the tax collectors (so the sinners), when they heard Jesus' words acknowledged God's way was right. That is the presumption they had coming into this conversation we will be talking about today.

       -On the other hand, the Pharisees, and experts in the Law rejected God's purpose for themselves.

Today, as we look at this portion of God's Word, I want to do three things.

1.     I want to look at the setting that takes place.

2.     I want to talk about Simon's thoughts, and Jesus' response to his thoughts.       

3.     And then, I want to talk about the response Jesus has for the woman.

Let's look at the setting. Jesus is an invited guest at the home of Simon. Simon is a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the religious leaders, who were the keepers of God's Law. So, they knew The Law.

       -You shall not kill.

       -You shall not steal.

       -You shall honor your father and your mother.

But, the Pharisees added to God's Law. They added extra commands that God had not commanded. It had gotten to the point where the Pharisees thought they could be saved by keeping The Law. They didn't need a Messiah. They didn't need a Savior.

Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus to come into his house for a meal.

Now today, when you invite somebody to your house, we sit in a chair, and eat at a table. But in Jesus' day, that wasn't the case. You would recline at the table, like our text says. So, picture Jesus reclining at the table. He is lying on the left side of His body, with His head toward the table. He is eating with His right hand, and His feet are extending out from the table. He is lying on a cot, probably and His feet are extended out from the table.

There is this woman who shows up at Simon's house, as an uninvited guest. Our text just says she “was a sinner”. She had a bad reputation in that town. Commentators have speculated as to what her sin was. Most say she was a prostitute. Some even speculate as to who it was. But, God did a wise thing here. Dr. Luke, who recorded this portion of scripture, I believe, does a wise thing, too. He doesn't name the woman. He wants her reputation to be kept in tack. Here is this woman who comes, who is a sinner, with a bad reputation in this town. That is the setting. They are sitting at the table together.

Now, here is Simon's thoughts, and Jesus' response to his thoughts.

Simon is not speaking out loud here. He is just thinking this. He is thinking, “Self, if Jesus knew the type of woman this was who was touching him, He would have nothing to do with her.”

Jesus now responds to Simon's thoughts. That tells us something about Jesus, doesn't it? He is God.

He is omniscient.

He is all-knowing.

That can be scary. It is scary to think that Jesus knows all of the thoughts we have, including the thoughts we have had just this morning, since we got out of bed.

Jesus responds to Simon's thoughts. He does that by telling a parable. Two debtors owe a money lender, one 500 denarii, and one 50 denarii.

Let's put that in context. A denarii is one day's wage. In a year there are 52 weeks. If you get two weeks vacation each year it means there are 50 working weeks, times 5 working days. That is 250 working days per year x 2, for two year's wages. Consider what you make in a year. (I know some of you are retried, so think about what you made before you retired.) A year's wage multiplied by two. That is what one of the debtors owed the money lender.

The other debtor owed 50 denarii, which is equivalent to two and a half month's wages.

Both debts are canceled. Both debts are forgiven.

So, Jesus asks Simon a question. Here is a easy question that is being asked of Simon. “Who loves the money lender more?”

Simon says, “I suppose it is the one who owed the bigger debt.”

Jesus said, “Simon, you are right. The one who had the larger debt loved the money lender more because they were forgiven the larger debt.” So, that is Jesus' response to Simon's thoughts.

Simon thought he could get to Heaven another way, other than Jesus. That was the presumption he was coming from. There are many people in the world who have that same presumption, that you can get to Heaven other than through Jesus.

People have probably told you before, and have shared this very phrase with me. “You believe what you believe. I will believe what I believe, and we will both end up in the same place.” I have heard people say that, before.

This last week it was all over the news, through eulogies, through memorial services, after Mohammad Ali passed away. There is a quote that is attributed to Mohammad Ali in which he has that same mindset. I am going to read the quote to you, from the paper. “Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names. But, they all contain water”, he once said. “So do religions have different names. They all contain truth expressed in different forms, and times. It doesn't matter if you are Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew. When you believe in God, you should believe that all people are part of one family.”

That is just not a true statement. It is just not a true statement, and it falls into the thinking of Simon, who thought he could be saved other than through Jesus.

       -But, it is the woman, the uninvited guest, who understood that salvation is through Jesus, and she was forgiven, because of what Jesus had done for her.

       -It was the woman who came into Simon's home, and what did she do? She washed Jesus' feet. She did something that Simon didn't do for Jesus. She kissed Jesus' feet. She dried Jesus' feet with her hair. She anointed Jesus' feet with oil, something that Simon didn't do.

Now, Jesus is going to respond to the woman. I want you to notice something from our text for today. Jesus is still speaking to Simon. He is still responding to Simon, as He turns His back from Simon (still talking to him, but He is looking at the woman). He says, “Simon, I want you to notice something. This woman, when she came to your house today, she washed my feet. She didn't have any water. She didn't have a bowl, but she washed my feet with her tears.”

Now, how many tears would you have to cry to wash somebody's feet? I will contend it is a lot. You would have to cry a lot, to wash somebody's feet.

She didn't have a towel. So, what did she use? She used her headdress, she used her hair to dry Jesus' feet.

It was tradition to kiss your guest on the cheeks, when they came to your house. Simon didn't do that, but the woman was constantly kissing Jesus' feet.

It was customary to anoint somebody with oil. Simon didn't do that, but the woman anointed Jesus with an alabaster flask of ointment.

Jesus was still responding to Simon, when He says to the woman, “You are forgiven much. And, as a result of that you love much.”

Then, He says, “He who has been forgiven little, loves little.” He didn't mention Simon by name there, but He was talking to him. “Simon you love little, because you are forgiven little.”

But now, in responding to the woman, Jesus uses the four most beautiful words in the English language, I believe, because Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven”. Those are the greatest words anybody can ever hear from Jesus.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

She loved much, because she had been forgiven much. Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

As we look at this portion of scripture for today, we need to ask ourselves this question. “Who is it that we are more like? Are we more like the woman, or are we more like Simon?” Probably most of you are thinking, “You know what, we probably do associate more with the woman because we are sinners.” Thanks be to Jesus for the forgiveness He gives to us. But, truth be told, we also do have some of the Pharisee in us as well, because sometimes we are Pharisaical in our thinking. We think we are better than others, and we may look down on others.

Well, who is forgiveness for?

Forgiveness is for sinners.

The woman recognized that. She came to worship Jesus. Worship is for sinners.

Where did the woman worship?

She worshiped at the feet of Jesus.

Here we are today, doing what? As sinners, we are coming before the feet of Jesus, and we are worshiping Him, so we can hear those four beautiful words in our English language.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

Forgiveness comes simply because of the mercy and grace of God. God's Word says this about His mercy.

“God who is rich in mercy

made us alive in Christ.”

God's Word says this about God's grace.

“It is by grace...

It is by grace you have been saved,

through faith.

This not of yourselves,

it is the gift of God,

not by works

so that no one can boast.”

It is your Savior who has forgiven you of all of your sin, through His death on the cross.

Outside of the city of New York there is a cemetery. In that cemetery there is a very simple headstone that is un-embellished. On that headstone is the word, “Forgiven”. There is no name. There is no birth date. There is no death date. There is no eulogy. There is no epitaph. It is just that one word – “Forgiven”. That is the greatest thing that can be said about anybody. That is the greatest thing that could be written on anybody's headstone – “Forgiven”.

Dear friends in Christ, you are forgiven.

Your sins are forgiven!

What is the response we should have, because of the love Jesus has for us, in forgiving us and loving us? Well, may our response be like that of the woman. It was the woman who served, loved, and gave, because she was forgiven. She served Jesus, by washing His feet, drying His feet, kissing His feet, anointing His feet. It was that woman who loved Jesus, and it was that woman who gave to Jesus. May we be like the woman in response to the forgiveness we have received from Jesus, our Savior. Jesus promises that as we serve others, we are serving Him. As we love others, we are loving Him. As we give to others, we are giving to Him. We have been forgiven much. May we love much in return, because we are forgiven.