The Kind of Person Jesus Welcomes (Luke 7:36-50)
Happy early Thanksgiving! I am so thankful to have this opportunity to open God’s Word with you this morning. I am humbled and honored to have this privilege. I want to take this time to also say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you. Thank you for graciously welcoming my family into your church family. Thank you for your care, love and support these past few months. We really do thank God for you! I see EFCC, with the TM and EM together, as two different segments of the same army, with the same Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ! As an EM, we have a lot of work to do and so we continue to ask for your prayers.
How many of you have a welcome mat outside your home? I have one outside my home and it says, “welcome” on it, but the more and more I think about it, it is really there so people can wipe their feet before they enter rather than really a welcome. I wonder: Do I really welcome everyone into our home? Well, not really. Actually the word “welcome” means a “greeting given due to joy upon someone’s arrival.” If that is the case, there are some people I do not welcome. I do not welcome Jehovah Witnesses or any cult. I do not welcome people trying to sell things. I welcome family and friends. I welcome church members (don’t worry). So really my welcome has some terms attached to it.
Did you know that Jesus has some terms attached his welcome? Jesus welcomes anyone to come to Him, but they must come on His terms. Today I want to talk about a person who welcomed Jesus into his home, but another person who was not welcomed by anyone, but welcomed by Jesus. The title of the message is “The kind of person Jesus welcomes.” What kind of people does Jesus welcome to Himself? What kind of worship will get the attention of the Savior?
This question is answered in Luke 7:36-50. Let’s look at this story. In Luke 7: 36-38, we learn that:
I. The kind of person Jesus welcomes is one who truly worships Him (Luke 7:36-38). Jesus is most honored when we offer Him our highest devotion.
So far in Luke, people are trying to figure out who Jesus is. In this chapter alone, He is seen as a healer (Luke 7:1-10), raiser of the dead (Luke 7:11-17) and the one projected to come though he will be rejected just like John the Baptist (Luke 7:18-35). Luke will teach us more about who Jesus is from this event.
In Luke 7:36 we find that Jesus was invited to a meal at a Pharisee’s home. Luke records a lot of meals. Jesus is always eating in Luke. He will fit well at EFCC! Pharisees were the religious leaders of that day. Three things described them:
a) Proper—outwardly they made no mistakes. Never miss any services and kept all the rules.
b) Separatists—they do not hang out with anyone who was not like them.
c) Experts—they always had the right answers. They were quick to point out wrongs in others. For example, if you were late to any meetings, they would tell you that you arrived 7 minutes and 12 seconds after the meeting started.
Because of these things, they thought they were the closest to God. We will see if that is really the case. So a Pharisee named Simon invites Jesus into his home for dinner and Jesus goes. He always goes where He is invited. If Matthew the tax collector invites Him, he would go. If Simon the Pharisee invites Him, he would go. For Jesus it is not class, color or your background, but it is invitation.
Why did Simon invite Jesus? We are not sure. Did he hear so much about him and wanted to see for himself what He was about? Did he want to trap Him and find faults with Him? Did he want to host a famous rabbi? Whatever the case, he welcomed Jesus into his home.
Life then is more public than personal. This is very different than our time. If there was ever talk about a rabbi coming to someone’s house, everyone knew about it. The door would be left open so that people can come, sit by the walls and hear the conversation.
But once you were invited to a home, three things were done to welcome you. The host would place his hand on the guest’s shoulder and gave him the kiss of peace, which was a kiss on both cheeks. This was a mark of respect which was never omitted in the case of a distinguished Rabbi. The roads were very dusty, and shoes were merely soles held in place by straps across the foot. So always cool water was poured over the guest’s feet to cleanse and comfort them. Either a pinch of sweet-smelling incense was burned or some rose extract was placed on the guest’s head. These things good manners demanded, and apparently, in this case, not one of them was done.
When you would have a meal back then, the guests did not sit, but reclined, at table. They lay on low couches, resting on the left elbow, leaving the right arm free, with the feet stretched out behind; and during the meal the sandals were taken off. Today, that would be seen as rude.
Jesus and Simon may have just started reclining and before even the meal was served, look what happens in Luke 7:37. An unwanted guest comes to the party. She is called a woman of the city, “who was a sinner.” Though we cannot be absolutely sure, she may have been a prostitute. By the way, this is not Mary Magdalene or Mary of Bethany (who did anoint Jesus’ feet later). This is a different person.
Somehow, somewhere, she heard the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps one day she was standing on the street corner trying to find some customers when she saw a large crowd gathering. Around her neck she has a necklace from which hangs a small, alabaster jar of perfume. Curious, she decides to stand in the back to hear him speak to the crowd.
She has known many men, but not like this God-man, Jesus Christ. Perhaps on that day she heard him say, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). She has tried to allure many men, but this man was calling her to Himself. This man, when he looked at her, didn’t notice her hair or her body, but he saw deeper. He saw not the shape of her body, but the shape of the soul, which was empty. Being with so many men, her heart has become hard and numb. But that day His words melted her heart. He tells her that love that she has longed for is not found on the street corner, but in Himself. And this love is so pure it can wash away the deepest of sin. This love is the love of God.
The crowd is always with Jesus, but she wishes to speak with him. But that day He moved on with His disciples and she could not get near Him. Somehow she heard that Jesus had a dinner appointment with a Pharisee and decided that no matter what, she must get to Jesus. Listening with the crowd is not enough. Standing with the people is not enough. She needs a personal touch. She doesn’t care where He is going to be. She doesn’t care what He will say. It doesn’t matter who is around and what people may think. She needs to get to Jesus. She has a holy desperation for the presence of Christ. I would encourage you today that if you have been hanging out on the street corner of sin, follow this broken woman today to the feet of Jesus!
Look at Luke 7:38. She sees Him reclining. She cannot believe it is really Him. He was the only person who has the power to reach into her soul. She walks in with her eyes fixed completely on Him, her heart beating against her ribs like a caged bird and rushes to His feet. She realizes how unworthy she is and collapses at his feet. She does not know what to say.
She cannot control her emotions. She does not have a bowl of water to wash his feet. The only water she has is heart water and she spills it onto His feet. She notices that she made a mess. Her tears are now mixed with the dust of His feet.
She puts down her hair—which was bad in that culture for a woman to do and some men would even divorce if their wives did that in public. Once a woman gets married, she has her head bound.
But when she is in the presence of Christ she doesn’t care what she looks like. She dries His feet with her hair. This is the same hair she used to seduce, which she now uses to serve. Kisses that were once for sale are now freely given away. She looks at His feet and she feels like she must cleanse Jesus of her unworthy kisses and so she breaks the little vial around her neck and pours the expensive perfume at his feet. This is not a little whimper or a tear drop…the word “wet” is often used to describe rain showers. She flooded that room with worship. The language Luke uses here indicates that she continuously cried and wept at His feet.
Simon welcomed Jesus into His home, but not into His heart. This woman had welcomed Jesus into her heart and now Jesus welcomes her into His presence. She gave the best welcome in the world to Jesus, which is giving herself by laying herself down at His feet in complete submission. It was very costly, insistent and continuous.
Illus: Do you want to see what worshippers look like? In a few days, after Thanksgiving Day, do not sleep that night. Instead, around 2 or 3am, take a drive around to the nearest mall. You will see people standing in line, some with even tents pitched out in the parking lot. They are waiting for stores to open. They are focused, passionate, single-minded, driven and desperate. Nothing and no one will stop them from getting inside. That is true worship! We are all created for worship. We all worship something or someone. The question is will you give true worship to the One who truly deserves it?
The kind of person Jesus welcomes is one who truly worships Him. Do you welcome Jesus today or do you worship Him? How do I know if I am a welcomer or worshipper of Jesus? Let me suggest a few ways:
a) When I sing songs at church with my mouth and my heart (Is. 29:16).
b) When I treat Jesus like a spare tire, taking Him out only when I am in trouble.
c) When going to church and reading the Word is a boring ritual than a life-giving and life-changing experience.
d) When I am more concerned with how I look in front of others than what Jesus thinks of me.
I pray He will pour salt in your heart this morning so that you will thirst for Him, the Living Water! You may ask yourself, “How can get to a place where I can truly worship Christ?” We see this with our next point.
In Luke 7:39-43, we learn
II. The kind of person Jesus welcomes is one who has self-awareness rather than self-righteousness (Luke 7:39-43). The more we realize the depth of our sin, the more we are growing in Christ.
At this point, Simon sits up. This is really an awkward moment for him. He starts to move away from them. He knows the reputation of the woman and if Jesus was all that He says He is, He would know too what kind of person was touching Him. Disgusting! Look at her, so unclean and dirty. Jesus must not be a prophet to accept such actions to continue! So He thinks in Luke 7:39.
Whenever Jesus reads people’s minds in the Gospels, it is not a good thing. Simon just accused him of being less than a prophet, but Jesus turns around in Luke 7:40 and reads His mind! Jesus, so tender a Savior, takes this moment as a teaching lesson for Simon. Notice Simon calls Jesus a “Teacher,” not even a prophet!
In Luke 7:41-42, He told Simon a parable about one man who owed 500 denari, which is about two year’s salary and another man who owed 50 denari, which is about two month’s salary. The moneylender canceled both debts, when either of them could not pay. Jesus asked Simon who he thought would love the moneylender more. In Luke 7:43, Simon answered correctly by choosing the one who owed greater debt.
Simon, in his own evaluation, thought of himself as better than this woman. Everyone looks up him. Everyone looks down on to her. He is a religious leader. She is a streetwalker. He makes a living promoting rules. She’s made a living breaking them. He’s hosting the party. She’s crashing it. So in the parable, he is the man who owed 50 denari and the woman is one who owed 500 denari. Surely the debt of her sins is greater than the debt of Simon’s sins.
But do you know what the greatest sin of all is? It is not realizing that you are sinful. The greatest sin of all is self-righteousness. The Bible says that “…God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5).
Are we like Simon today? I find myself often like Simon the Pharisee.
a) I think I am better than people because of external blessings like a house, a spouse, a child, a college education, clothes, culture, my talents, job, worship style and personality. I forget that there is nothing I have that I have earned. They are all gifts.
b) I do not rush to give Jesus the praise He deserves. I have had many tearless times of entertaining the Lord’s presence.
c) I point out others fault with a microscope, but look at my own sins with a telescope.
d) I neglect opportunities to serve the Lord.
e) I want more information than transformation.
The key to spiritual growth is not just committing fewer and fewer sins, but the recognition of how great a sinner we are!
In AD 55, Paul said, “I am the least of all of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9). In AD 60, Paul said, “I am the least of all of the believers” (Eph. 3:8). In AD 64, Paul said, “I am the greatest of all sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). See, as Paul got older in the faith, he became more self-aware than self-righteous. He started seeing how deep the pit was from which he was lifted. CS Lewis said, “the closer you get to the light, the more dirt you see on your shirt.”
Believer, take a good look into the light of the Lord’s glorious face! Take a good look at Calvary. See the debt He paid that He did not owe and which we could not pay. Jesus welcomes those who truly worship Him by being aware of the depth of their sin. Lastly,
III. The kind of person Jesus welcomes is one who loves Him in gratitude for His forgiveness (Luke 7:44-50). Jesus takes notice of those who have great love that comes from great forgiveness.
In these last verses, in an astonishing turn of events, Jesus rebukes Simon, not the woman. He treated Christ like He wasn’t even there. He did not even show Jesus the customary manners of the day. This was because Simon did not realize the debt he has, nor the one who can forgive the debt. If he had, he too would be on his hands and knees.
Simoon is the student of Scripture. He is the one who sits up front of the synagogues. He is the one who boasts being close to God. He is one who teaches others about God. You would think he would be the one to show love. But he has his hands folded, his heart closed, distant and harsh.
She is the student of the streets. She is the one from whom mothers with children cross the street upon seeing her. She does not know anything about God or the Scriptures. You would think she would be the one to avoid Jesus. But she has her knees bent, her face to His feet, her heart wide open, close and tender.
What is the difference? What is the discovery that she has made that Simon has missed completely? The difference is simple: God’s love. She received it. She came thirsty and Jesus offered her a glass of grace and she does not sip or taste it, or dip her finger in it, but gulps it down until the last drop. Simon, on the other hand, does not even realize he is thirsty. Such people do not need grace, they analyze it. They do not request mercy, but debate it. Jesus gives us the 7:47 principle: Great love comes from great forgiveness. She truly knows what thanksgiving is all about.
In Luke 7:48-50, Jesus demonstrates to Simon that He is more than just a teacher, even greater than a teacher. Jesus was more than a prophet. In fact, He is God for only God can forgive sin.
Parenting has already taught me so much about the Lord. On one occasion, Abbie, though forbidden and warned several times, decided to put her hands in the fireplace. Jenny was at work and I was watching her. I was sitting on the couch, just a few feet away. Immediately, with my finger pointed, I shouted “Abbie, no! Get away from there!” I think the combination of being startled and scared, really shook her. She looked at me, pouted her lips, and started crying, mouth fully open and everything. Big tears streamed down her face. I thought to myself, “Man, she must be really mad at me now. She’s not going to look at me for the rest of the day and she won’t let me touch her.” But I was amazed at her next move. She immediately got down on her hands and knees and crawled so quickly to me. She put her hands up in the air and I picked her up. She clung to my neck and subsequently stopped crying. I was shocked. Why in the world after I yelled at her like that would she still run to me? Then the Lord spoke to my heart. “She comes because you are the only one, my son. You are the only one to comfort her, to forgive her and reassure her of your love. Be like her. Learn to run quickly to me.” Holding my baby in my arms, I cried that day, as I saw my Father’s love. Why am I so hesitant to run to the Lord? Why am I like Simon so often?
Would you ask the Lord today to overwhelm you with His love? Would you ask Him to help you realize the extent of your debt? As we take communion, come again to the foot of the cross. Come to the fountain filled with blood. Run to one who has His arms wide open for you. No matter who you are or what you have done. You are welcome to come there again and again. There is the place where you can drink deeply of His love. Don’t sip it. Don’t taste it. Drink deeply. The person who Jesus welcomes truly worships Him, is self aware of their debt and who is overwhelmed with love for His forgiveness. The story of the gospel is that we are mighty sinners, but we have a mighty Savior.
 Luke alone notes other occasions when the Pharisees invited Jesus for a meal (11:37; 14:1). Other meals are in 5:29; 10:38; 19:5.