Sunday, January 31, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Loving Jesus Much"

“Loving Jesus Much”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
January 31, 2010
Luke 7:36-50

This is a story about “Loving Jesus Much.”
Not loving Jesus a little.  Not tolerating Jesus.  And not (as Chris Van Brocklin said last week) merely admiring Jesus.  Not just liking Jesus.

But loving Jesus–much.  Loving Jesus a lot.

So a good question to ask ourselves before we read this passage is DO I LOVE JESUS MUCH?

In a few minutes, we’re going to have our Annual Reports Meeting where we go over the effectiveness of our church’s ministries over the course of 2009.

We say that the whole point of our church is bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.  That means being loved by Jesus so that we know it and loving Jesus much so that He knows it!

How are we doing at bringing people (like you and me) into that love relationship with Jesus Christ?

Now, when I say “love relationship” don’t think that I’m talking about something that’s merely sentimental or somehow romantic.

I’m a guy.  I don’t love Jesus like I love my wife!  And vice versa.

But I do love Him.  I love Him with a biblical kind of love.

Do I love Him much?

Do you?

In this story, there are two people who interact with Jesus.

One is respectable, religious, and scarey for his lack of love.

The other is disrespectable, disturbed, and...comes to deeply love Jesus.

The contrast couldn’t be much greater.

And neither could the love.

Luke 6:36.  “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.”

Now, this is unusual to begin with.  There aren’t many stories about Jesus eating with Pharisees. The Pharisees were the good church-going folk of New Testament times. They were outwardly very holy.  They kept the rules.  They were respectable religious leaders in their communities.

And one them (we find out in verse 44 that his name is “Simon”) invited Jesus over for dinner.  And Jesus went.  Maybe it’s a trap.  Maybe Simon is interested in Jesus but not yet convinced.  We don’t really know.

But Jesus went.   And He reclined at the table.  What does that mean?

In the Ancient Near East, the people ate banquets at a low center table with mats or couches jutting out from the table like spokes in a wheel.  They tended to lay on one side with their feet pointing out.  That becomes important in the next few verses.

Some of these homes were like circular compounds with many entrances to a central garden eating area.  Perhaps Simon’s house was like that.

It appears to be a public dinner, maybe somewhat in honor of Jesus the Teacher and His visit to their town. We don’t know.

But obviously, people other than the guests were allowed to enter and perhaps listen in to the conversation at the table.  And, maybe, get a snatch of food from the table if they were poor.

There was one woman present who was definitely uninvited.  And she did something startling.  V.37

“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.”

This was highly unusual.

First, that a woman like this would be in the home of a Pharisee.

We don’t know how she got in there.

She was known for being a sinner.

We don’t know what she did, but we can guess.

Everyone knew.  Everyone knew what she was. least they thought they did.

She heard that Jesus was eating at Simon’s house.  She had had prior contact with Jesus.  She knew about Jesus and had come to love Him.

And she came to demonstrate her love.

Verse 38 gives us the details.

She brings an expensive alabaster jar of perfume.  We can only guess how she earned that.

And she stands at Jesus’ feet, behind him and she is crying.  She is weeping.

She is filled with emotion.  In fact, she’s bawling.  The Greek word here for weeping can also be used for a rainstorm.

It’s coming down from her eyes in buckets.

Can you see the picture?  Have you ever seen a woman cry her eyes out?

That’s what’s going on here.  And the tears are getting on Jesus’ feet.  So, she lets down her hair–not the most socially appropriate actions but her hair is all she has to wipe the tears.

And she wipes them and wipes them and wipes them.  And then she kisses His feet.  Respect, love, gratitude, worship, honor, thankfulness, joy. And she pours the perfume on them.

It’s an anointing.

We don’t do anointings much in our culture, so we have a hard time understanding what’s going on here from our experience.

But I think the picture is pretty clear.  This woman loves Jesus much!

She has total affection for Him.

She’s not a pretty sight.  Her hair is probably limp and tangly from being used as a rag.  Her eyes are probably red from crying.  She’s probably shaking with emotion.

But it’s beautiful emotion to Jesus.

She loves Jesus much with emotion and devotion.


How does this demonstration of emotion and devotion make you feel?

Does it make you squirm a little?

I mean, take aside the fact that she was a notorious sinner.  We’ll get to that in a second.

But what do you think about all of this emotion and devotion?  Is it a little over the top?

Well, if it’s fake, it’s no good.
And if it’s just worked up, emotionalism, that’s no good either.

But Jesus loves us to love Him with our emotions and our devotion.

He loves lavish displays of our affection.

Do you know, that’s one of the reasons why we sing on Sunday mornings.

Because Jesus is worth singing to.

He’s worth shouting to.

He’s worth our hearts being engaged.  Our emotions being charged.  Our souls being passionate about Who He really is.

Jesus loves our emotion and devotion to Him.

Now, you and I are probably not going to look just like this lady.  For one thing, we don’t have His feet here.

And for another, we may not express our emotion and devotion to Jesus with sheets of tears.

But we should, at least on occasion, be carried away in worship.

But we should, at least on occasion, cry about our love for Jesus.

But we should, at least on occasion, sing with our whole hearts, shout with our whole voices, declare our love with our whole souls.

Because that’s how worthy Jesus is.

You can tell if someone really loves Jesus or not by how they act.

Not always.  Not every time.  And sometimes Jesus’ people go through dark times where there is no spark.

But generally speaking, and always at some point, you can tell if someone really loves Jesus or not by how they act.

Can anyone tell if you love Jesus because of your emotion and devotion?

I think that many Christ-followers are scared that people will think they are some kind of religious nut or Jesus freak if they show any emotion or devotion to Jesus.

Well, let them!

Jesus is worth it.

Now, I’m not saying try to work up some emotion.  Get the juices going!  No.

And don’t fake it.  Be real.

But if you are real, you’ll feel it sometimes.  And you’ll let it out sometimes.

And you will do things, devotional things, with your life that other people may shake their heads at! But don’t worry about them.

Worship Jesus with emotion and devotion.

She poured that perfume out on His feet.

Can you imagine the aromatic smell that must have saturated that room?

Well, it sure made Simon uncomfortable.  And it led Simon to make an erroneous judgment about Jesus.  V.39

“When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this [display of affection], 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.’”

There’s a lot of irony in that verse, isn’t there?

Is Jesus a prophet? Yes, a more than.
Does Jesus know what kind of a woman is touching Him?  Yes, He sure does.
Does Simon know what kind of a man he himself is?  No, he doesn’t get it.
Does Jesus know what Simon is thinking?  Yes, He does.  V.40

“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.”  Stop there for a second.

Jesus tells a surprising story.  He catches Simon off guard.

There are two men who both owe money to a moneylender.  Who do you think is the moneylender in the story?  It’s God, right?

And the debt stands for sin.

One owed 500 denarii (500 days wages). The other owed one tenth of that–50 denarii–50 days wages. 

Who is the 500 denarii sinner?  The woman is.  Notice, by the way, that this woman cries but she never speaks.  Never.  We don’t know her name.  She never says anything. She just loves Jesus!

Who is the 50 denarii sinner?  Simon is.  But he doesn’t recognize it yet.

The surprising thing about this story is that the moneylender CANCELS the debts.

Who ever heard of that?  The debt is not paid by either of the two men.  In fact, verse 42 makes it clear that NEITHER COULD PAY THEIR DEBT!

So the moneylender forgives the debt!  We call that “GRACE.”

Now, here’s Jesus’ question: “Which of them will love him more?”

Simon is stuck.  He answers correctly but stiffly because he knows that he’s caught.

“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.  V.44

“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 [common courtesy], but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss [a token of honor to a guest], but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head [to show respect and welcome], 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.’”


Jesus is not saying that her sins are forgiven because she had a lot of love.  As if her love was the cause and her forgiveness the effect.

He’s saying in verse 47 something like, “It is raining for the windows are wet.”  Not that the wetness on the windows causes the rain but shows the effect. [See Darrell Bock’s commentary on this, pgs. 704-705.]

This woman has experienced forgiveness of her many sins.

And that has transformed her love so that she loves Jesus much.

Grace changes us into those who love Jesus much.  We love because He first loved us!

Simon doesn’t really see himself as much of a sinner.  And, I don’t think he’s forgiven yet either.  I hope he is now.

But the point that Jesus is making is that Simon shows very little signs of even respect for Jesus much less love.   He’s not been changed by the power of forgiveness.

Simon thought that this woman was shameful and that Jesus’ accepting of her emotion and devotion was shameful.

He would have rather Jesus kicked her!

But Jesus says that Simon could take a lesson from this woman. 

Isn’t that beautiful?

And it’s all because she’s forgiven much.

Now, the point is not to run out an sin some more so that grace may abound.

“If we sin a much, then we’ll be forgiven much, so that we love much.”

No, that’s nonsense.

The point is have a deep awareness of our sin and a deep awareness of Jesus’ forgiveness.

That’s why Jesus turns to the woman and says the words that she knows to be true.  V.48

“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”


What a thing to hear!  “Your sins are forgiven.”

Has Jesus said that to you?  “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other folks at this party couldn’t believe He said it.  V.49

“The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’”

Who does He think He is?

He’s the Savior!

He’s God incarnate.

He’s the One who go to the Cross to PAY FOR all of those sins.

Because God doesn’t just cancel the debt.  He pays the debt with the blood of His own Son!

And if that isn’t worth crying about, what is?!!

“Your sins are forgiven.”

That’s what Jesus says to those who put their trust in Him.

From those who turn from sin and trust in Him.

Repenting and receiving Jesus.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

Not deferred for a later payment.
Not covered by your insurance policy.
Not by works so that no one can boast.

But by faith.  V.50

“Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”

“Your faith in Me.”

“Your sins are forgiven.”

You are saved!

Love Jesus Much!

So often, we stand in judgment like Simon the Pharisee.

We see those people who are so much worse than we are.

And when we do that, we lose sight of the fact that (v.42) “neither of them had the money to pay him back!”

Whatever we have done, whatever we have worshiped, whatever we have committed–if we belong to Jesus, it’s all paid for.  It’s all canceled.  It’s all free and clear.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

Love Jesus Much!

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus