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Obstacle Or Opportunity

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Introduction

Visit to Pastor’s home in Kerala. Went to the very southern tip of India, drove past beaches, palm trees, ponds, and arrived at a Small church. Pastor lived on the backside of the church. His home was just sheets of old rusty tin hanging off the back of the buildijng. His son had never tasted Coca Cola. But he bought one for me and insisted that I drink it. Fixed a gourment Indian meal, and then they all sat and watched me eat it.
When it was time for Church, they put a ley, a necklace of flowers, around my neck.
Not sure I have ever had a more gracious welcome.
In the New Testament, there were similar customs for greeting a guest.
As we read the passage today, I want you to look for hints of what their customs were for greeting guests.
Text:
Luke 7:36–50 NIV84
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. 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.” 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. 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.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:36–50 NIV84
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. 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.” 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. 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.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Pride will never properly honor Jesus

Introduction

Visit to Pastor’s home in Kerala. Went to the very southern tip of India, drove past beaches, palm trees, ponds, and arrived at a Small church. Pastor lived on the backside of the church. His home was just sheets of old rusty tin hanging off the back of the buildijng. His son had never tasted Coca Cola. But he bought one for me and insisted that I drink it. Fixed a gourment Indian meal, and then they all sat and watched me eat it.
Intro
When it was time for Church, they put a ley, a necklace of flowers, around my neck.
Not sure I have ever had a more gracious welcome.
In the New Testament, there were similar customs for greeting a guest.
As we read the passage today, I want you to look for hints of what their customs were for greeting guests.

Pride will never properly honor Jesus

Simon did not see his own needs. Her perceived himself to be a pretty good person. He went to Church regularly. Memorized the Bible. Gave his tithe. Hung out with good people. He even went to see Jesus, the amazing new evangelist. More than that… he did a really cool good deed. He invited Jesus into his home.
But the problem begins when Jesus gets to his house. How many of you understand- it is easy to look good in public, to act right at Church, to impress people from a distance.
But things change when people get to our house. They see our messes. They hear our arguments. They watch our mistakes. You can only fake it for so long. If people get close enough, they are eventually going to see the real us.
Simon’s problem was that he could not see the real Simon. Pride has a way of skewing our vision.
Pride does not see itself correctly.
Pride does not see itself correctly.
Pride does not see others correctly.
Prides does not see Jesus correctly.
Pride blinds us to our own faults while highlighting the faults of others.
Simon’s pride skewed how Simon saw everything.
Simon saw Jesus as just another man.
Simon saw the sinful woman as unforgiveable.
Simon saw himself as pretty good, alright, on the right track.
There were certain customs in that day that you would perform for all special guests...
Give them water to wash the dust off their face
Wash their feet
Kiss them
Give them oil to moisturize their face
Apply oil to their feet to sooth and refresh them
Present them with perfume to cover the smell of the road
When Jesus enters Simon’s home, Simon is polite but he does none of these things for Jesus. Of course, no polite guest would fuss about not getting this special treatment. But this clearly communicates how Simon feels about Jesus in his heart.
Perhaps he feels he is better than Jesus, or at least as good. Perhaps he feels he has done enough- inviting Jesus to his home and preparing a meal for Him. Perhaps Simon feels like Jesus should be grateful to even get to come to his home, grateful to be getting a meal with such great religious leader like himself.
How many of us approach God in that way. We act like we are doing God a favor by coming to Church, giving an offering, reading the Bible. But the truth is- God needs none of this. He needs nothing from us. If we do any of these things sincerely, we benefit ourselves. If we do not do them sincerely, then we just waste our time.
Religion is the source of so much pride. Religion is man’s attempt to make himself right with God. Our best attempts always fail. The truth is this- man can never make himself right with God. Man can never cleanse his own sins. Man can never save himself. But that does not stop us from trying, from relying on ourselves.
Illustration: washing your hands with mud. You will never get clean. Helping others. We don’t make others better. We only spread the filth.
Simon’s pride blinds him to seeing who Jesus truly is.
Simon’s pride blinds him to seeing his own sin.
Simon’s pride blinds him to seeing God’s love for this broken woman.

Humility Opens Our Eyes To See Things Clearly

When SImon sees this woman, he recognizes her as a woman who has been sexually immoral. We don’t know. She may have been a prostitute. She may have been an adulteress. She may have had multiple husbands. The Bible does not tell us exactly. But what the Bible tells us is this: Simon knew this woman was a sinner, a woman of doubtful character, a woman Simon apparently would never let touch him.
That is what religion does.
It highlights the sins of others.
It blinds us to our own sins.
It causes us to separate ourselves from those we should be seeking to help.
If Simon was truly a man of God, he would not have looked down on this woman. He would have remembered .
Proverbs 11:30 NIV84
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
If Simon had truly been a godly man, he would have been keenly aware of his own sin. Rather than casting stones at this woman, he would have been kneeling at the feet of Jesus with her.

Honor means to highly value another person.
If Jesus had been a proud person, he would have likely been insulted by the way Simon welcomed him. Simon’s behaviour demonstrated that he did not truly honor Jesus. But Jesus is not like that. When we come before Him wrongly, He patiently waits for a chance to reveal truth to us- hoping that we will hear the truth, humble our hearts and be saved. We need to be right with God- not religious.
Why would Simon have invited Jesus to his home then? Religious people like being seen with important people. It makes them feel important. They feel it proves their worth and value.
In other words, it does not seem that Simon brought Jesus to his home for Jesus’ benefit. Think about it.
Simon gives Jesus a half-hearted welcome.
Simon criticizes Jesus while Jesus is sitting at his table.
Simon openly doubts Jesus’ prophetic credentials.
Simon denounces Jesus for associating with sinners.
We cannot say for sure what Simon’s motive was for inviting Jesus to his home. And perhaps his motives were mixed. But whatever his motive was, it does not seem that his motive was to honor Jesus.

Love Lavishes Honor On Others

Simon
Honor means to highly value another person.
Love naturally values other people. This means that love by its very nature seeks to honor other people.
Simon’s pride caused him to not highly value Jesus or this sinful woman.
Jesus knows Simon’s heart and tells a story to teach him.
In modern values, Jesus says one debtor owed a moneylender $6,000 and another owed $60,000. The moneylender wrote off the debts of both. Which one will love him more?
Simon replies that the one who was forgiven the great debt will love more.

The More We Have Been Forgiven, The More We Love

Many times people feel like their past is a hindrance to following God faithfully. Jesus reframes everything for Simon.
This woman’s past was not an obstacle preventing her from following Jesus. It was an opportunity for her to love Jesus more than others.
He who has been forgiven little, loves little.
He who has been forgiven much, loves much.
The world looked at this woman and felt like God should not touch her because of the sins of her past.
Jesus saw her differently. Jesus not only allowed her to touch Him, he declared her sins forgiven and granted her peace.
Jesus did not see the great sins of her past. They were forgiven and washed away. He saw the great worship in her future.
You see that is how God treats us. When we come to Him humbled and broken by our sin, in faith, trusting Him to forgive us and save us. He loves us. He forgive us. He removes our sin. Then this beautiful experience happens. God looks at us and He does not see our past. We remember our past and we are humbled and broken by it. But God promises to forgive and forget our past, never remembering it again.
Hebrews 8:12 NIV84
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
So when God sees us, He sees this beautiful love, worship and brokenness without seeing the sin that caused it. And He loves what He sees. Wow! God’s equation is so different from the world.
Simon saw that woman’s past as an obstacle to her worship. God saw her past as an opportunity for extravagant worship.
When this woman leaves, she is forgiven, she is saved, she has peace. Why? Because she left her sin and clung to Jesus. She did not trust in herself or her deeds.
Simon on the other hand is trusting in himself. This is obvious. He thinks so highly of his own opinion- he ventures to pass judgment on Jesus himself. Think of it- it is like Simon tries to sit down on God’s throne to pass judgment on God Himself.
Ridiculous? No. It is just pride. Pride skews our perspective on everything.
Pride prevented Simon from seeing who Jesus truly was.
Pride prevented Simon from seeing the value in a sinful woman.
Pride prevented Simon from seeing his own sinfulness.
Pride prevented Simon from trusting in the Lord. Instead he trusted in his own good deeds.
And Simon’s pride left him religious but not righteous, doing good deeds and religious things- but not right with God.
Teen Challenge Banquet: such passionate worship. Why? A few months ago they were hooked on drugs, living on the street, enslaved to habbits that were killing them.

Humanity Happens

One mom was living in a Uhaul, doing drugs, destroying her life. She gave her son to her sister long ago because she was so strung out on drugs she had lost everything. But a year ago she entered the Teen Challenge program. Since that time she has gotten free from drugs, gave her heart to Jesus and she courageously testified Friday night that she loves Jesus and is ready to follow him all of her life. She is actually going to stay on as an intern at Teen Challenge helping other ladies get free.
And next month she is going to get her son to bring him back to live with her. Friends, that is what Jesus does when broken people see their sin and cry out to Him.
And let me just tell you- when she worships Jesus… it is for real. Why? She knows she has been forgiven much. She worships with all of her heart.
Your past is not an obstacle to stop you from living for God, it is an opportunity to love and serve Him more than others.
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