Spiritual or Religious? Simon or Sinful Woman? Who’s Relationship is Right?
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s/evening’s (June 16, 2013) sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 7th chapter (Luke 7:36-50).
Beloved in the Lord,
Two Peoples One Lord Having Dinner
Those who are spiritual but not religious are big on relationships. Relationships are authentic, real, and relevant. Relationships are not caught up with doctrine or dogma, it’s not about knowledge of this or remembering that. For the spiritual person it’s about knowing, becoming, it’s about the journey and not the destination. It’s about finding the god within you rather than worshiping the God outside of you. It’s about the experience not about the ritual.
This morning/evening in our text we find two souls having dinner with Jesus. One of the Pharisees asked to have dinner with Him. And behold, a woman, who was a sinner also was there. Like everyone, both Simon and this sinful woman are in relation to Jesus. And like most people, Simon is the one who thinks he’s in a right relationship with Jesus and that the woman is in a wrong relationship with Jesus. Simon is a good, upright, Pharisee who goes to synagogue, no doubt prays anywhere from 3-7 times a day as the Psalm teach, he follows the tradition of the elders and he makes every effort to obey God. This woman . . . well, this woman is a sinner and that’s all that need be said. She’s no Pharisee. She’s nothing like Simon. Her journey is all messed up. But . . . she’s at the feet of Jesus. Where’s Simon? When talking about relation you can also talk about location. Where’s the sinful woman? Where’s Simon. Who’s in a right relation to/with Jesus? Who hears Words of blessing and who hears words of rebuke?
What Manner of Woman is Touching Him – A Sinful Woman
Simon doesn’t like what he sees. “If this man were a prophet he would know what manner of woman is touching him.” Those who aren’t too concerned about knowing facts, doctrines and dogmas, often seem to know more about others than they do themselves or Jesus. Simon assumes he knows. Simon is much like the unbelieving world, scandalized by the kind of people who hang around Jesus, or whom Jesus hangs around. Simon sees the sins of those who follow Jesus. Is our world any different? How about some of our own people? We look around and point fingers or mumble under our breath about the one two pews up or three pews back. We gossip and we slander when one of our fellow Christians stumbles or falls into sin. We take pride in our morality while belittling those around us. In many ways we can be just like this Simon the Pharisee. In many ways we can be just like the unbelieving world. In many ways we can focus on our relationship with Jesus – because you know . . . Jesus knows my heart – without actually knowing what means to know Jesus and to be known by Him, but assuming to know enough about Jesus and everyone else to point fingers at both of them.
And what about this woman who is a sinner? What about sinners who draw near the feet of Jesus? Isn’t this a wonderful picture of the Church? Of we who are called Christian? Note that this woman doesn’t assume much about herself or the host of the meal. She does however assume much about Jesus – why? Because she knows this Jesus. She’s learned of His heart toward the broken, the fallen, the trapped, the sinner. She’s heard Him speak of repentance and grace. She’s no doubt watched Jesus in action. Perhaps she followed for a time at a distance, observing, listening, learning, growing in knowledge of this man from Nazareth. Perhaps, drawing nearer she stood outside the synagogue and listened to Him preach. And while making His way to Simon’s house for dinner, maybe she noticed that His gaze was not one of lust like other men, nor one of disdain like Simon but Jesus saw her as human being created in the image of the living God with value, dignity and worth, yet at the same time stained, blemished, and burdened with the brokenness of her own heart and the corruption of this creation. Hearing Jesus’ words she is drawn to His feet. This Jesus receives sinners – and this woman is one. So is Simon the Pharisee. And so are you.
Forgiving the debts of debtors: God’s Grace in Action
Simon is confused. “If this man were a prophet He would know what manner of woman is touching him.” Prophets don’t let sinners touch them. Messiahs don’t let sinners touch them. Jesus shouldn’t be letting this woman touch Him. But He does and He is. Jesus loves this sinful woman. Jesus loves you. Jesus loves this Simon the Pharisee. And Jesus loves also the unbelieving world. Everyone is in some sort of relation with Jesus because Jesus loves everyone. That doesn’t mean everyone is saved. Everyone is not in a right relation with Jesus. Jesus wants things to be right between He and us, between He and Simon. So Jesus tells a parable. He reaches out to Simon and reaches out to us and to the world to all who afar off. He speaks of debts and debtors. The world is full of debts and debtors, sin and sinners. No one can escape it. All have a debt to God. All have sin. Though all are fallen and by nature sinful and unclean, some of more, some have been trapped, some of willfully indulged themselves where others have not. Some are like Simon and some are like this woman. There are debts and there are debtors but more importantly there is a gracious moneylender. No one can pay their debts. No one can make up for their sins. Not you. Not me. Not this sinful woman and not this Simon the Pharisee. Until this fact is learned, until this piece of information is believed, fingers will be pointing and tongues will be gossiping. But when this is believed, there is only one place to be . . . and that’s at the feet of Jesus. Jesus is the moneylender and He is very gracious. He forgives debts great and small. He takes away sins few and much. This is His delight because this is how He saves. This is how He loves.
And this is quite costly to Him. To love as He loves and to save as He saves, to forgive and to redeem Jesus must pay the debt Himself. He must take from us our sins and cover their cost. He must make atonement. He must shed blood, holy blood, His blood. For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. So shed blood is what He does because this is how He loves and this is how He forgives. Shedding His blood He surrenders His life. He suffers. He dies. He gives everything for everyone, for you and me, for the world, for the woman for Simon and for His Church. There is no one left out because there is no one who is not a sinner, no one who has kept the law, no one who has done right all their days and all their life. Jesus does it all for them and all for you so that you can share in His inheritance, gain entry into paradise and be where He is forever and ever. All of this is made sure and certain because Jesus is risen from the dead and ascended to the Father’s right hand.
What Manner of Woman is touching Him – A Sinful woman showing Mercy
Simon is in the wrong relation with Jesus. He’s very spiritual but not very religious. He assumes too much of Himself and too little of Jesus. He does this because He is unbelieving, stubborn, and sinful. The woman is in a right relation with Jesus. She assumes nothing of herself and very much of Jesus. She does this because she believes, is humble, and though still sinner has had her sins forgiven. Therefore, she worships Jesus in spirit and in truth. Each act according to their faith and relation to Jesus. Simon ignores Jesus, is a poor host and assumes that Jesus is honored to be in Simon’s presence. The woman is just happy to be at Jesus’ feet. She wets them with penitent tears and dries them with a woman’s glory. She kisses them and she anoints them with ointment. She loves much because she has been forgiven much. Her faith has saved her and she cannot get close enough to Jesus even ministering to the least of his members.
This again is a picture of Christ’s bride, the church. What this woman does for Jesus the Church does “for the least of these my brethren.” In humility those who have been forgiven much will love much. Loving much we will be found loving those whom Jesus loves, especially the least among us, fellow sinners, those who have fallen and/or are trapped in their sin, the weak, the sick, the poor, the disabled, the orphan, and the unborn. We who are Christian, who are named with God’s name and cleansed of our sin by Grace through faith are moved toward our neighbors. Because we are in a right relation with Jesus we will seek to be in a right relation with our neighbors. No longer will we see our fellow man with the eyes of a Pharisee, disdaining their situation. But now, having learned the fullness of our own depravity and the magnitude of the Grace of God in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection,
now we behold our neighbor’s plight with compassionate eyes.
Now we bow in service to them with loving hearts.
Now we anoint them our own blood, sweat and tears,
Now we surrender our own glory honoring the value, dignity and worth of our neighbor’s humanity.
Now we share from our bounty!
Now we speak words of peace!
Now we clothe the naked and visit the lonely and feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. Now we do for the least of these and so also do for Jesus. Now we love much because we have been forgiven much.
Dining with the Lord – Kissing the Son of God in Communion
Beloved in the Lord, the spiritual but not religious are big on relationships and short on doctrine. They assume too much about themselves and too little about Jesus because they are ignorant of Scripture. To them the journey is more important than the goal. Beloved, that could not be more wrong. The goal is always what’s important. And the goal is always the feet of Jesus. There is a journey but that journey must be trod with repentance and faith. Simon actually is refusing the journey with his unbelief. The sinful woman has received the goal. She’s loved much because she’s been forgiven much. Her faith has saved her. Thus she kisses the feet of Jesus and receives from Him kind words. She cannot get any closer Him than to be kissing His feet. Nor can you get any closer to Jesus on this side of eternity than to be kneeling before His altar and feasting on His body and His blood. When approaching in repentance and faith you are loved much, you are forgiven much, and you receive much, for you are given Jesus Himself. It’s not about spiritual versus religious. It’s not about relationships or experiences. It’s about Jesus pure and simple, and not any Jesus but the Jesus of the bible, the Jesus who says to you and all who believe “Depart in peace, your faith has saved you.” AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!