Summary: In Luke 7 two people are in the presence of Jesus, an unnamed woman and Simon the Pharisee. Message compares their worship experience and draws key concepts for meaningful worship.
We are pursuing a heart of worship. We are desiring to go deeper in our worship experience with God. Last week we saw that achieving this is not so much a matter of methods and techniques, as it is the condition of the heart. In His conversation with the Woman at the Well Jesus said to her, (John 4:23) “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”1 He was correcting her superficial understanding of worship. She wants to debate externals; he directs her to the internal interaction of spirit to Spirit, man’s adoration of God from his innermost being.
We looked at two foundations of genuine worship. One is the person’s revelation of who God is. Your worship will never rise above the level of your regard and respect for God. You may get a higher revelation of God during a worship experience. But you enter into worship based on how you know God. This is why the fear of the Lord is so fundamental to worship. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom—and that wisdom includes worship of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of worship. It is absolutely foundational to worship. The higher your view of God, the higher you can go in worship.
Secondly, we said a revelation of God’s goodness produces gratitude, and gratitude is foundational to worship. This is why a thankful attitude is so important. Psalm 100:4, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Without thanksgiving we haven’t even gotten through the gate. Without thanksgiving we will not bask in the Holy of Holies. Thanksgiving is the entry point into worship. We talked last week about the importance of nurturing a habit (lifestyle) of thanksgiving. Dwelling on the goodness of God and talking about His generosity to us—the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
Today we go a little deeper. Today we examine an example of worship based on those two foundations. Out gratitude for His mercy and love, a woman adores the Lord. She is not a person you would expect to know much about worship; but the worship she expresses toward Christ demonstrates what worship is all about.
Go with me to our text in Luke 7:36-50.
Jesus has been ministering in Galilee. Scores of people have been healed and delivered. The crowds have come to Him and experienced His love and mercy. In all probability, the woman in our story was in the crowd and experienced forgiveness of sin. Simon, a Pharisee, may have been in the crowd as well. He invites Jesus to his home. Follow with me as we read Luke 7:36-50.
“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, ‘This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.’ 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ So he said, ‘Teacher, say it.’ 41 ‘There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?’ 43 Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have rightly judged.’ 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.’ 48 Then He said to her, Your sins are forgiven.’ 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ 50 Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’2