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The Heart of Worship

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“The Heart of Worship”

Luke 7:36-50

          This morning we continue on our topic of Worship. Something that should affect every part of a Christian’s life.  We’ve have mentioned Way of life Worship, in all we do we should be able to worship our Lord not merely as an event but as a way of life, the way we live our lives.

          Worship isn’t a plan or performance, it’s not merely the time we spend singing in Church. Worship is a heartfelt response to our Awesome God, our Wonderful Savior; which is just what we see in our passage this morning as this woman comes and pours her worship out to our Lord

          We’ve defined worship as our response Both personally and corporately To God – For who He is, and what He has done. Expressed in and by things we say, think & do.

    It has been said that * “Prayer is most often focused on the problem” *“Praise most often focuses on the provision” *“Worship, Worship focuses on the PROVIDER”

      When it comes to Worship, the HEART of the matter is really a matter of the HEART. Last week we saw with the Corinthian Church in how they gathered for corporate worship to celebrate the Lord’s Table they had some real Heart disease, they had some Heart issues. Their hearts were all wrong when they came to worship together.

      This morning we take a look at the story of an anonymous and otherwise forgotten woman. Here we will see one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring pictures of true worship.

This woman really demonstrates to us that true faith cannot be hidden, and true faith shows itself in Worship, and we see a heart ready to Worship.

Now as we come to our passage let’s look first of all at the setting.

1.  The Setting

      One thing we want to be careful of as we look at our passage, we don’t want to confuse this event with a similar one that happened much later in Jesus ministry involving Mary of Bethany recorded in the other 3 Gospels. This event that we will look at this morning is only mentioned here in Luke’s Gospel. 

36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 
Now here we have our setting and background. Jesus is invited to dinner by a Pharisee, we find out his name is Simon. Now Simon probably had a few of his fellow Pharisees with him. Remember, Jesus had been denouncing these Pharisees. He said some things that they didn’t like; so it is difficult to believe that the invitation to dinner from this Pharisee was a friendly one.      Jesus said in the previous verses, vs. 33 & 34, comments directed at the Pharisees,

     33 “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

The Pharisees didn’t like the fact that Jesus would actually spend time with these types of people. It made them angry in fact. They said Jesus was A friend of sinners. The Pharisees would only look on these people with scorn & hatred. The Pharisee invited Him to dinner so that he could spy on Him and find something wrong with Him. Find something to accuse Jesus of.

2.  The Scene

   It is also important for us to note that it says Jesus reclined at the table. They didn’t sit around like we would if we had dinner together. In those days they didn’t sit on chairs at the table; they reclined on couches. So Jesus was reclining on a couch, with His feet sticking out turned from the table in back, leaning on His left arm or elbow, as He talked across the table to His host.

      In the Eastern culture of that day it was customary for outsiders to hover around during banquet or dinners so they could watch the “important people” and hear the conversation. Since everything was open, they could even enter and speak to a guest. This explains how this woman had access to Jesus. He was not behind locked doors.  They were not eating dinner with all the doors shut.  This would be a bit different for us but it was the custom of strangers passing in and out of a house during a meal to see and converse with the guests.

3.  The Sinners 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

     A. The Unrighteous Woman

Jewish rabbis did not speak to women in public, nor did they eat with them in public.

Women in general were treated poorly in the culture of that day.   A woman of this type would not be welcomed in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Her sins are not named, but we get the impression she was a woman with a bad reputation, guilty of sins of the flesh.

     She is certainly a person in pain. Most likely she had endured a lifetime of sin and abuse.
Her Predicament probably seemed hopeless, no way of escape.

No one would have had to argue with this woman that she was a sinner, she was unrighteous and she knew it.

     B. The Self Righteous Pharisee

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

Simon was his name. He gave Jesus the invite for dinner.  It was an attempt to test or trap Jesus. Whereas the woman was unrighteous, guilty it appears of sins of the flesh.

    Simon is self-righteous and guilty of sins of the spirit. Often the most difficult people to reach can be the self-righteous they look around at everybody else, they say I’m not so bad, look at them look at what they are doing. I’m not that bad. Their attitudes give them away quickly. They tend to look down on other people.

          Look at how Simon looks down at this woman. He is all about position and tradition. Pride oozes out of Simon.

 Self-Righteous people are often just like an Old Crow with fresh Road kill, have you ever seen how a Crow will just pick it apart, Self Righteous people are like that too, they just love to pick apart other people, they seem to really enjoy it; just like an old crow.

Now that might be a revolting illustration for you, but Self Righteous people are revolting.   Simon didn’t think this woman was worthy to be in his presence. He was uncomfortable with her being there.

          How would you feel towards someone with a known reputation coming into our midst, it they came in broken to worship with us?  Would we be shocked?  How do we view people like this woman? Do we look at them with scorn or do we realize they are sinners in need of a Savior?  It is certainly right to hate sin, but not sinners. We are to hate the sin, not the sinner.

Now we look at the one the Pharisees called the Friend of Sinners, and I for one I am so glad that He is, He is by far the greatest friend any sinner could ever have. 
4.  The Savior

Our Wonderful Lord here deals with both the self-righteous sinner, Simon; and the un-righteous sinner, the woman. Christ came to save both didn’t He.

40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”  Simon hadn’t asked any spoken question, Jesus the all-knowing Lord, knows just what he is thinking. He knows it all. It is quite a thing to really behold how our Lord deals with each of these people.

41“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

Think on one owing you $50 and another $500

 42 “When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”

Now the application is obvious Simon saw himself as the lesser sinner and the woman as the greater sinner. Simon represented by the 50 Denarii, the woman 500 Denarii.  It may be as some have remarked that the amounts may more accurately describe awareness of guilt of each of them not the amount of sin.

     The woman knew she was guilty of sinning against God, but Simon the self-righteous He thought he was OK. Yet he desperately needed to be forgiven too! And he could have been forgiven if he had humbled himself and trusted Jesus as his Savior.

   Jesus is going to kindly point out Simon’s sins of omission, for he had not treated Jesus with kindness and hospitality.

Now don’t miss the subtle, but significant point in the beginning of vs. 44.

44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? 

He turns from Simon, turns toward the woman and addresses Simon. This is a great demonstration of acceptance of this woman by Our Savior. 

    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. 45 “You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 “You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.

49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50  And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

   *This woman was not forgiven because she loved, but she loved because she was forgiven.

     She had trusted the Savior, The Only One that can save us from sin.

     *True faith cannot be hidden, and true faith shows itself in love and worship.

This great awareness of Christ and forgiveness it leads her to such a depth of Worship.     

Now I want to take a moment and get to the heart here. As we look at this woman who came to our Savior, this act is an act of Worship. It is a response of love and devotion.  As we look here let’s look at the Acrostic HEART and see some key points in the true worship of this woman. 

   H  umility- The “H” in Heart is for Humility

This woman shows what true HUMILITY looks like. She knew she would be criticized and scorned by a room full of Religious Leaders. But she did not care about her own reputation. In fact, she focused on Jesus so completely that she seemed unaware that anyone else was in the room.

    She made a spectacle of herself by sobbing, spilling perfume on Jesus’ feet and then wiping his feet with her hair.   *While Simon the self-righteous condemned the woman’s behavior. In response, Jesus pointed out all the things Self Righteous Simon had neglected; Simon treated Jesus like a run-of-the-mill dinner guest, not like the Guest of Honor.
    There’s a clear lesson for us here. Pride is most often the primary hindrance to Worship. Pride will cause us to be consumed with thoughts of self. Am I comfortable? Do I look good to the people around us? Is everything up to my standards? If we hope to have a true Heart of Worship we must enter God’s presence with a Humble Heart.

E  agerness  The E of heart stands for Eagerness.

This woman was eager to worship at the feet of The Savior. There was an eagerness in her heart. She could not be kept from Worshipping her Lord. She was eager to offer to the Savior what she had, what she had brought. Most valuable indeed was the vial of perfume this woman brought.  She gave it all to The Savior. She didn’t hold anything back.

          Do we come to worship with that same eager heart? A heart that is eager to give all to the Savior? Are we eager in our daily lives to worship the Savior? What can we offer the Savior?

The A of Heart is for Adoration  A  doration

Jesus made a point of contrasting the Woman‘s adoration with the proud, self-important behavior of Simon. Jesus 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.
    This Woman showed her adoration in so many ways. First of all, she went out of her way looking for Jesus. She also risked being embarrassed by entering the house of the religious elite. And as soon as she saw Jesus, she fell at His feet and poured out her adoration.
      Self- Righteous Simon on the other hand, expected Jesus to come to him. He didn’t go to any trouble or take any risk in order to be with Jesus. In fact, you could get the impression that he thought Jesus should feel honored to be invited to his exclusive little party. Simon believed it was his place to assess whether or not Jesus met his own lofty standards.
    Certainly the attitude of Simon The Pharisee is alive and well in the world today. I’m sure Simon the Pharisee saw himself as highly sophisticated in comparison to this lowly woman and her “simple-minded” display of adoration.
      But Jesus Himself spoke up for this woman. In fact, he used simple language so that even a sophisticated Pharisee could figure it out. To paraphrase the idea here that Jesus said: You did not give me even common courtesy when I came into your home, but this woman has not stopped pouring out her adoration.
     Then he gave Simon the zinger: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
           R  epentance   The R of Heart is for Repentance

     The Woman did not try to deny that she was, indeed, a notorious sinner. Her tears certainly related to her past life and sin.
     Meanwhile, look at what Simon was thinking 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."
     Poor Simon had the Messiah --- the Son of the Living God --- sitting right there at his own table. But far from seeing his own need for forgiveness, all he could think is: she is a sinner.
      Christ came for all sinners the unrighteous and the self-righteous like Simon too. How sad that the self-righteous, often very religious folks they are in just as much need of forgiveness and cleansing, but they don’t see it.
      We cannot offer true worship until we first acknowledge our own sin.

T  hanksgiving  The T of Heart is for Thanksgiving

The Woman was forgiven much. And out of a heart of thanksgiving, she gave much. The value of the Alabaster Jar of Perfume is hard to estimate, but it is safe to say, that she took the most precious commodity she owned and poured it over the feet of her Master.

          Folks can we ever be thankful enough for what our Savior has done for us? This woman demonstrated her Thankfulness here as she worships Jesus with all she is and all she has.

          Do our lives demonstrate a thankfulness to the amazing forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ? As we go about living our lives are we doing Way of Life Worship?  On our jobs, in school, at home, in the neighborhood to we live our lives to do all we can for The Savior as an act of Worship, giving Him our all, giving Him our best?

Paul said “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Rom 12:1   Living, Way of Life Worship.  How can we do any less?

This woman gave an example of True Worship which
*Begins with a Humble heart *Brims over in Eagerness *Shows itself in Adoration *Leads to Repentance *And results in heart-felt Thanksgiving;
What a wonderful picture of worship we have here with this woman.

That final verse in our passage this morning,
          50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

This woman had put her faith in the only One that can save us The Lord Jesus Christ. He died for our sins so we could be forgiven. Our passage this morning too shows that it is not the religious that are forgiven & made right with God, but it is those that have come to put their trust, their faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins & begin that relationship with Him.

I wonder how many rejected sinners have found salvation through the testimony of this woman in Luke’s Gospel. She encourages us to believe that Jesus can take any sinner and make him or her into a child of God. But God’s forgiveness is not automatic; we can reject His grace if we will. God won’t make us accept it.

U.S. Supreme Court case, United States v. Wilson 1833

In 1830, a man named George Wilson was arrested for mail theft, the penalty for which was hanging. After a time, President Andrew Jackson gave Wilson a pardon but he refused to accept it! The authorities were puzzled: should Wilson be freed or hanged?

They consulted Chief Justice John Marshall, who handed down this decision: “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.”  If you have never accepted God’s pardon, now is the time to believe and be saved.     Just like Mr. Wilson you can choose to reject it or accept it.  If you choose to reject it you will be eternally separated from God. If you choose to accept it you can know the joy of forgiveness and fellowship with The Savior.  The Choice is yours to make.   #409 I know Whom I have believed.

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