In our first reading this morning, King David had really
blown it. God had put His Spirit into his heart, so by the age of 17 he writing
Psalms like Psalm 23. God had also give David many other extraordinary gifts.
As a shepherd boy he was able to kill a bear and a lion, who attacked his sheep,
and then Goliath. But this is not to say that everything came easy for David.
For 13 years he was on the run from King Saul and was often “this” close to
death. Yet God used that to make his faith even stronger. And then David
turned on God. He slept with his neighbor’s wife and to cover up that sin
murdered the husband. We wonder how David could have fallen like that?
And then there was Peter. He blew it worse than David –
twice. The first time you’re probably familiar with. Jesus had been arrested.
Even though Peter had been told not to, he followed Jesus into the judgment
hall. There he became scared and three times denied know Him, whom he had seen
transfigured and just the week before raised Lazarus from the dead. The second
time Peter denied Jesus was even more unbelievable. After seeing Jesus die on
the cross, after seeing and touching His resurrected body, after experiencing
the joy of being forgiven for his denial, Peter gave into pressure again and
denied Jesus had paid for every sin.
Isn’t it wonderful that none of us could ever be like David
and Peter? After all look at how richly God has blessed us! We have the Holy
Spirit through our baptism. We know the teachings of the Bible, perhaps better
than most. Also, all our lives God has been at work in our lives to strengthen
our faith. There is no way we could ever turn from Him, right? Paul writes in
I Corinthians. “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you
don't fall! - I Corinthians 10:12” The examples of David and Peter warn us
that anyone can fall. However in our text this morning gives us the key, so
that we do not. Listen to What Jesus Says to a Repentant Sinner. 1. Your
sins are forgiven. 2. Your faith has saved you. 3. Go in peace.
We read, “Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have
dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.
When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was
eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and 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
– Luke 7:36-38.” We don’t know what sins this woman had committed, although
everyone in that town did. Also, we don’t know what her excuses were. Maybe
she had alcoholic or abusive parents. Or maybe she was born with a wild streak
and did not some things. And then if she dealt with her guilt by denying it
like David had, well, denial always leads to more sin and more denial. Anyway
it doesn’t matter why she sinned. Sin is sin, and she was guilty.
Reading on in our text, “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 –
Luke 7:39." This Pharisee’s name was Simon. If he was like most Pharisees
he lived an exemplary life. He never missed a worship service. He tithed every
pay check, and was always ready to people the right way and the wrong way to
live. So, between Simon and this woman, which one was at greater risk of
falling into a whole lot more sin? Maybe both. We read on, “Jesus answered
him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two
men 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 canceled
the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I
suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly,"
Jesus said – Luke 7:40-43.”
Do you see where Jesus was going with this? The more aware
we are of our sins, the more we appreciate God’s grace. Likewise, the less
we’re aware of our sins, the less we appreciate what Jesus did for us. Now,
however we feel about our forgiveness, it will show. We read on in our text, “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-- for she loved much. But he who has
been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are
forgiven" – Luke 7:44-48.”
The tables then were low and people ate while stretched out
on cushions, and that’s how this woman could get to Jesus’ feet. Anyway she
came into the house uninvited and cried a lot of tears. Then she embarrassed
herself even more by letting down her hair and using it to dry Jesus’ feet. And
then she got Jesus’ feet wet again by kissing them. Gross! However, she was
desperate for a way, any way, to thank Jesus for forgiving her.
Simon also showed what was in his heart. He was judgmental
toward this woman and disrespectful toward Jesus. Those were two big sins right
there, so, how could he be thinking he was Mr. Perfect? He was in denial of his
sins, and because of his denial he was in danger of becoming hardened in his
What about us? When was the last time you cried tears of
sorrow, not because you were in trouble, but because you had offended God? Or,
when was the last time you got choked up with joy over God forgiving you? Some
would say, “Germans and Norwegians don’t do that.” Well, maybe so.
Nevertheless how can we stay appreciative of our forgiveness, and how can we
show our appreciation? Here’s one way. At this time open to the questions and
answers on page 156 in the front of your hymnal. Let’s read together the first
two sets of questions and answers…
Whenever I read this I feel guilty. It makes me realize
that I don’t deserve to still be His child, because every day I don’t live up to
His love for me. Yet here is my hope. Let’s read the next two sets of
questions and answers together.
Right there is our power not to fall like David and Peter
did. Provided we believe we are sinners, as longs as we keep listening to
Jesus’ words of forgiveness, we will not want to sin. Now this doesn’t make us
better than others, because then we’d be denying our sinfulness as Simon did.
Also, not wanting to sin now doesn’t mean temptations won’t pop up from within
us, and sometimes we’ll want to give in. But this just shows again that we are
not saved because we’re Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. We are saved by faith!
We read. “Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has
saved you; go in peace” – Luke 7:50.” Faith is believing that what God says
is true. He says that we are forgiven, and we believe that nothing can come
between us and God’s love for us, not even our sins, not even a repeated sin.
But wait a minute, what about where it says in our text, “Her many sins have
been forgiven-- for she loved much.” That sounds like her love and the
things she did were the cause of Jesus forgiving her. If that’s true, how would
we know when our love was good enough to get forgiveness? We couldn’t! Also,
then we would not be saved by grace through faith, but we would be saved by love
– our love. Yet what about this verse? Well, consider this sentence. “It
rained, for the roads are wet.” The wet roads didn’t make it rain, so also
our faith and love do not cause our forgiveness. It’s the other way around.
Jesus’ forgiveness causes our faith and love. So, to be strong against
temptation, don’t focus on how strong your faith or on how long you’ve been
living a Christian life. Focus on the object of your faith – Jesus and all He
has done to save us. At this time please open again to page 156 and let’s read
together the last 3questions and answers.
When we focus on God’s free forgiveness, forgiveness that
cost Jesus is life, we have to respond. Now the woman’s response in our text
was unusual. But Jesus accepted her response, and then said to her, “Go in
peace.” Sometimes we too struggle in our personal response. For example here’s
a birthday card a granddaughter gave my wife for her birthday. Would an art
collector pay a million dollars for it? Maybe not, but we keep it on our
refrigerator, because it’s precious to us. In the same way, in whatever way you
serve God, be at peace and do your best, because your heavenly Father loves what
you’re doing. And if God had a refrigerator in heaven, He’d have a picture of
what you’re doing on it.
Here’s one example. Some Christians are afraid to tell
others about Jesus, because they’re afraid they might say something wrong, and
when they’ve tried to in the past, they’re pretty sure they did say something
wrong. Be at peace and keep doing your best. You will grow both by doing and
by your mistakes. Also, your example will be an encouragement to family and
friends to do their best, even if at times it’s not the way we would do it, kind
of like that woman in our text. But as long as it’s not contrary to the Word,
be at peace. You see, only Jesus knows what He is able to accomplish through
everything we say and do in response to His forgiveness. And finally the more
time we spend serving Jesus, the less time we’ll have for serving sin. So, will
we ever turn from God as David and Peter did? If they can, anyone can. But we
will not if we keep listening to what Jesus says to repentant sinners. 1.
Your sins are forgiven. 2. Your faith has saved you. 3. Go in peace. Amen.
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