Faithlife Sermons

A Sinful Woman

Jesus Through the Eyes of...  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Series Review

One of my pastoral responsibilities is officiating weddings. Wedding ceremonies in the UMC last 20-40 minutes, depending on what the couple wants to include. Pretty easy. Not very time consuming? That’s like saying that a sermon only requires about 20 minutes a week. Like a sermon, there is alot of preparation: and not just by the pastor. I spend time with the couple, developing and preparing them for marriage, not just a ceremony. Pastor’s have different approaches, but for me the primary theme through out the premarital sessions is listening.
Whether it’s who cleans and who cooks, how many children we want and how to raise them. Finances: What are our spending priorities? Do we believe in tithing to the church? How will God play a role in our lives? Married couples will differ, so they must constantly work to see the world through each other’s eyes.
I want us to see the world through the eyes of people in the Bible through their eyes: this takes a little work, but if we don’t we will seem through our own eyes and we will miss the truth they can show us. As we’ve seen in previous sermons, they understood things about Jesus that the religious people did not. The centurion recognized Jesus’ God given authority, while the religious people challenged his authority. The corrupt tax collector understood that true repentance was not just saying I’m sorry Jesus, but demonstrating repentance. Today we are going to look at a sinful woman.

Sermon Introduction

At the heart of this sermon is the problem of hypocrisy. Now we all have multiple personas that we allow others to see, because we all play multiple roles. That’s not what I’m talking about.
Donald Downs: 2 personas: congregational care and police officer. funeral luncheons, a serious coordinator driven by compassion and the desire to serve families who have experienced loss; a former police officer; I am certain that my interactions with Donald the funeral luncheon coordinator will be very different from the Donald who pulls me over for driving over the speed limit. 2 very different roles. One is compassionate, and the other is an administrator of justice.
Hypocrisy is putting on a false persona. Allowing someone to see a side of us that really doesn’t exist. Or we are covering a persona that does exist. Not all hypocrisy is intentional. Some of it is because of ignorance and we need someone to point it out. Some of it is so subtle that we don’t realize it exists. Some of it is rooted in pride: we want people to see our goodness, but we want to hide our inconsistencies and struggles.
The woman in the story demonstrates authenticity. The religious people demonstrate hypocrisy. Authenticity: allowing people to see us as we really are, is difficult. Hypocrisy is much easier. Authenticity hard. Hypocrisy easy.
So let’s look at...

The Person

Luke 7:37 NIV
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.
Notice the sermon title is “A Sinful Woman,” yet when Marti told the story she did not mention the woman’s sinful past. This is not because Marti forgot her lines. There are 4 accounts of this story in the Gospels, and they all include different details. Let me say something about this: repetition means importance. The Gospel writers don’t always include the same stories, but they all included this one. Apparently, this was very important. The Resurrection is in all 4, and we know (I hope) how important that is.
So will be referencing the other Gospels in this sermon.
They’re having dinner at Simon the Leper’s house. Why are you going to a leper’s house. Isn’t that stuff contagious and deadly? That’s like going on a play date with someone’s sick kids. I think it is a safe assumption that Jesus had healed Simon of this deadly disease.
Our primary focus is on the woman.
Marti shared Matthew’s perspective, and he wants to tell us about her act of service: anointing Jesus with perfume. Luke shares an additional detail: that she had lived a sinful life, and everyone at the dinner table seemed to know it. She had a terrible reputation.
And yet as Jesus says in Luke’s version of the story, the more you are forgiven, the more you give. The more you acknowledge what God has done in your life, the more you want to give. God has forgiven so many things in my life, I am so grateful, I want to be generous with my life.
That’s what the sinful woman is doing with her act of praise.

Her Praise—v. 7.

The woman showed her devotion to Christ by pouring an alabaster box of ointment on the body of Christ.
Matthew 26:7 NIV
a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
She demonstrates her authentic repentance. She doesn’t just say a prayer and say “Lord, forgive me.” Her very bodily posture reflects her desire to repent and live a new life. She is at Jesus’ feet, shedding tears. Matthew wants us to pay attention to her her giving: she brings the good stuff. “I found this at the dollar store. A whole box of them.” No, this is rare and costly perfume. A custom in Jesus’ day. People’s feet got really nasty in the days before indoor plumbing.
Do we give to God generously, or do we give our leftovers? I was doing an internship as a youth pastor, and a family invited me to their home for dinner. "Join us for lunch after church.” I gladly accepted. The previous Wednesday we had a pizza party for the youth: I showed up with a car load full of Dominoes Pizza, and we had a great time. When I joined the family for lunch the following Sunday, guess what they served? I like pizza for breakfast the next day, but not 4 day old pizza. I didn’t feel valued that Sunday.
I don’t mean to sound entitled, but their gift cost them nothing. Required no effort accept popping it in the microwave, no costs: it was paid for by the church. It was obtained through questionable means, as the pastor would later point out. Our giving can be like that: I will help if it is convenient. I will put a little money in the plate if I have a little surplus.
Giving is praise. And praise isn’t cheap. Praise is costly.
The sinful, generous woman who was excluded from the synagogue, not welcome at the table, recognizes this, but the religious people did not. Instead, they can’t see through their own self righteousness and they create a problem for her.

Her Problem

The disciples complained, saying this was a waste. Luke tells us that they weren’t the only one complaining:
Luke 7:39 NIV
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.”
Matthew 26:8–9 NIV
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
John 12:5 NIV
“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”
She get’s attacked on 2 fronts: she has lived a sinful life, and she’s wasting money.
e.g. before i read this story I experienced it as a teenager in a pentecostal church; I was one of those disciples, wanting to be closer to Christ, going to Bible study and meeting before the youth meetings to pray; in comes teenage girl with a bad reputation; we were uncomfortable with her around. It was easier for us to see her past than her present.
What we do for Christ is never a waste.
e.g. before i read this story I experienced it as a teenager in a pentecostal church; I was one of those disciples, wanting to be closer to Christ, going to Bible study and meeting before the youth meetings to pray; in comes teenage girl with a bad reputation; we were uncomfortable with her around. It was easier for us to see her past than her present.
John’s account tells us that it was Judas Iscariot. John also tells us that Judas didn’t really care about the poor, but he was taking from the money and keeping
The religious people couldn’t see through their own self-righteousness: All they could see was a sinful woman who is wasting money. The religious see her as a problem, but God takes pleasure in her.
If they could see Jesus through the eyes of this woman, they would see 2 things: Jesus has the power to forgive the worst sins, and when we give generously we are giving to Christ, we are giving out of gratitude to Christ: this is never a waste.
God takes pleasure in this.

God’s Pleasure

Does God take pleasure in what we do? What if we asked that question every day? Did God take pleasure in what I did today? What if churches asked that question? Is God pleased with the church? What if our lives were not driven by success, but driven by pleasing God? What in our lives would change?
Does God take pleasure in what we do? What if we asked that question every day? Did God take pleasure in what I did today? What if churches asked that question? Is God pleased with the church? What if our lives were not driven by success, but driven by pleasing God? What in our lives would change?
She didn’t care about the approval of the church folks; she didn’t seek approval from the important people; she was concerned about God’s pleasure.
Luke 7:38 NIV
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.
Why does Jesus take pleasure in the sinful woman? Not because of her past. He acknowledges publicly that he does not approve of her past:
Luke 7:47 NIV
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Luke 7:
She anticipates his death and burial. (God’s people did not)
Jesus is pleased that she notices that God’s people missed:
notices that God’s people missed:

She anticipates his death and burial.

Matthew 26:12 NIV
When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
The disciples were shocked and horrified at Jesus’ death. She saw it coming.

Her giving reflected her value of Christ. (does ours?)

Matthew 26:9 NIV
“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Matthew 26:9–10 NIV
“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
Let me share with you my conviction about giving. We miss the mark if we see the offering plates the same way as we see mail from a non-profit. Giving to keep the church running. My conviction on giving is just about money, it is about the church. I believe that the local church is God’s primary instrument for transforming the world. Scripture teaches that. So when we give money to the church we are giving to God. When we give our time to the church, we are giving our time to God.
This woman’s giving reflected how she valued Christ. If we look at our calendars and our bank statements, how do they reflect our value of Christ?
Here’s the final thing that the sinful woman understands that the religious people did not:

We share the Gospel with our generosity, not with our religiosity.

Matthew 26:13 NIV
Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Personal: Jesus gave me self worth; excited I could know God and God could speak with me; but then it got hard; God wanted more of me than just a feeling of self worth; more than going to church and enjoying worship at a pentecostal church; he wanted me; out there in the world. giving myself, my
I believe in Sunday worship. I believe in prayer. I believe in gathering around the Word. But all of this should make us more generous people.
These deeds performed by this woman did not just benefit her personal spirituality. It would be a testimony to the world. Our good deeds should not just benefit us: that leads to cafeteria spirituality: I’ll do that activity because I like that, or I’ll do this study because that looks interesting.
Jesus was pleased with the act of worship. Jesus said she did a good work, and that she was preparing His body for burial (note also v. 11).
The deed will be remembered through the entire world wherever the gospel is preached.
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