The Dreaded Night – Luke 7:36-50

The dreaded night has finally arrived. I still can’t quite believe the mess I got myself into. When I had asked Jesus to my home for supper it had been a spur of the moment invitation and not at all thought through. At the time of the invite I had just heard him share an exceptional parable with the crowds and I had been impressed. That was the last time I would ever let my emotions get the best of me!

All week I had been suffering repercussions. First my family wanted to know why I had invited the revolutionist into my home. Then my colleagues wanted to know why I, a devote Pharisee, had invited an uneducated self-proclaimed teacher for supper. And then I began to question myself as to why I had done this ludicrous thing.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see Jesus and his rough looking disciples standing at my door. Not about to greet them myself, I catch the attention of Joseph, my head servant.

“Go show Jesus to his place,” I say in a low tone with my back to Jesus.

Joseph looks at me with a puzzled expression. “Do you not want to greet . . .”

“No!” I argue with as much force as I can muster. “And make sure you seat him away from the head of the table. Keep those places reserved for my friends when they arrive.”

Joseph doesn’t respond as he obeys my orders. Jesus and his disciples are brought inside and seated. I try very hard to avoid making eye contact with any of them. The awkward moments that follow seem like an eternity. When are my friends going to get here?

At last I see Caleb and Cleopas approaching my front door followed by a few others of my close acquaintances.

“Welcome!” I greet with as large a smile as I can manage. “I’m glad you could make it!”

“It’s always a pleasure to be in your company,” Caleb laughs coming inside.

“The sunlight is fading fast,” Cleopas points out.

“Yes, and you all must be hungry!” I say. “Come and sit down! I’ll have my servants bring some water for your feet and some refreshments while we wait for the first course to be served.”

Jesus and his disciples watch as my friends are carefully looked after by my servants.  I want Jesus to know I don’t see him as my equal in society. I want Jesus to see that he is the one honored to be in my home.

“Joseph, we are ready for the first course,” I say when I see that my friends have been prepared for the meal.

With the arrival of food and with the conversation among my friends rising, I am able to totally ignore that Jesus was in my home and at my table. This is just what I was hoping for: He is here but isn’t the center of attention.

Remainders of the second course are just being taken away when our dinner is interrupted. My friends gasp and I look up to see Sharon, our neighborhood harlot, standing in front of Jesus. She knows better than to come to my house when I have company! What on earth is she doing here?!

Silence fills the room and I can hear weeping. The weeping is coming from Sharon who lets her tears fall down on Jesus’ feet. Jesus remains composed when the woman suddenly falls upon his feet, wiping them with her hair, kissing them with her lips, and weeping all the more.

I am not only disgusted by this lady’s outburst of emotions but by Jesus’ response to her! He sits, looking at her with eyes that show compassion as if he understands what she is doing.

Things go from bad to worse. Sharon pulls out an alabaster flask of perfume and begins pouring the contents over Jesus’ feet. The fragrance takes over the room and drowns out the smell of the meal.

I can’t look anymore. I can’t watch this parade of sin. I know that Jesus isn’t from here but if he was a prophet, if he was anywhere close to God, he’d know this woman was unclean and a convicted sinner!

“Simon,” Jesus’ voice says splitting through the silence and invading my thoughts. “I have something to say to you.”

Disgusted I reply, “Oh really? What could you possibly have to say?”

Jesus doesn’t miss a beat. “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred pieces of silver and the other only owed fifty. Now neither of them could make payments on their debt any longer so the banker decided to forgive them both. He completely wiped their slate clean. Tell me, which of the two would be more grateful?”

“I suppose,” I start to say, “Well, I suppose the one whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right.” Jesus turns to the woman yet he continues to speak to me. “Look at this woman here at my feet. I came to your home; you provided me no water for my feet, but she washed them with her tears. You gave me no greeting, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t give me anything to freshen up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it?”

Jesus pauses to look around the room. We are all silent.

“She was forgiven many, many sins and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal. I forgive your sins,” Jesus says, looking at the woman. “Your faith has saved you.”

At these words the woman seemed to have been released of a million ton load. Joy, peace, and relief seem to sweep over her. And at these words, I suddenly feel like the burden she carried has been placed on me. I now understand why I invited Jesus into my home.

I invited Jesus because deep down inside I had sin that I wanted free from. Deep down, underneath my mask, I had things I wanted Jesus to forgive. Something told me he could do it. Something told me he had the keys to freedom. Something had told me he could forgive – even though it didn’t make sense to my brain.

But my pride has been holding me back. This woman threw herself upon Jesus. I reserved myself, afraid to be seen too close in public. This woman wept upon his feet. I had remained proud, unable to humble myself to repentance. This woman gave her best perfume, probably her life’s savings, and I couldn’t even give him the best place at my table. This woman saw her sin as a heavy debt she could not pay. I had thought of my sin as minimal compared to most, but in reality my sin is greater than this woman’s for she will be leaving the room free.

The night is still young. Jesus is still in my house. Will I get the courage to humble myself before him? I take in a deep breath.

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Living Sacrifice

“I beseech you therefore, brethern, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice . . .” – Romans 12:1

I was reading this scripture just last night and something stuck out to me. In the Old Testament a sacrifice was always killed or given up. Most of the time it was an animal that died in order to cleanse someone from sin.

When Paul said present your bodies as a living sacrifice, he was saying something totally new. Unlike in the Old Testament, our sacrifice is not in dying. In fact the Bible clearly says that Christ made us alive when we were once dead in our trespasses.

So what am I getting at? In the Old Testament a living animal became a dead sacrifice. In the New Testament we, once dead, become a living sacrifice to God. We don’t dedicate our lives by simply dying – that was the old covenant and the new is so much better! We dedicate our lives by living for God! Another example of how the new covenant brings life where the old brought death.

Just like death causes complete surrender so our lives are to be in complete surrender. Just like a dead sacrifice no longer gets back up to serve itself so we must remain faithful to our cause – the Lord Jesus.

This is a voluntary sacrifice but it is a “rational” one. It is our “reasonable” duty. And most importantly it is our joy!

Mercy Forever

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” – Psalm 106:1

God’s mercy endures forever. Just think about that for one moment. How many times have you heard the phrase, “God’s not fair” or perhaps, “God’s not good”? Can you imagine just how wrong those statements are? God’s mercy endures forever and ever and ever!!!

Man can’t even comprehend the vastness of His great mercy! His mercy goes on and on and on forever in both directions! There is no end! There is no end!!! You can’t escape it! You can’t find one place on earth, one place in the whole universe that His mercy is not saturating.

Who are we then to question God’s goodness? Who are we to question if God is fair? Actually, God isn’t fair – if He was then we’d all be dead. He is merciful to us every day. If we can’t comprehend His love (Ephesians 3:19) or His everlasting mercy then why would we fully understand all the things that happen on the earth? We blame God for the bad because our mind can’t comprehend the truth. The fact is, He IS merciful and an event that takes place on earth will never change that fact.

Still don’t believe in God’s mercy? Let’s look at a few things in the word that give us a glimpse into this vast ocean. In Leviticus 26 we read about what will happen if we obey God and what will happen if we disobey God. What’s interesting are the stages God sets forth.

For instance, it says that if we walk in His statutes and commandments then He will pour out blessing after blessing after blessing. But what happens if we disobey? Stage one, God will allow disease, terror, and defeat to overtake you. Then He gives you a chance to repent. Still don’t obey? Stage two, He will withhold rain, and will cause barrenness. Then He gives you a chance to repent. Do you see? This goes on for five stages! Each time He adds a little more disaster and then gives you a chance to repent.

What great mercy! After just one act of obedience He pours out the full blessing of heaven but if you disobey He gives you five chances to repent before pouring out total disaster on your life. His mercy is amazing!

Daniel understood this great mercy as we see in Daniel chapter 9. This is where Daniel is praying for God to restore Israel after seventy years of captivity (which was stage five in Leviticus 26). After years of disobeying God and walking against His will – Daniel understood that God still desired mercy and restoration.

Verse 18 really sticks out to me, “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.” Daniel understood that the mercy of God was their only hope of restoration. He understood that even after total disobedience, God was ready to forgive and restore.

There are examples after examples in the bible of God’s enduring, everlasting, unending mercy. When we read and realize just how great His mercy is, we also realize just how stupid and foolish our claim is that God isn’t fair or God isn’t good.