Summary: Learn to speak and trust these words which will change your life now and forever: ""I'm a sinner. I am sorry." And "You are forgiven. Go in peace." (Theme and intro adapted from Jon Daniels)
Is it possible for your life to be changed by three words? How about three words like “We’re having twins!” or “Sorry, it’s cancer,” or “Kids, we’re moving.”? We could easily spend the next ten minutes coming up with other three-word combinations that would signal a dramatic change to one’s life. But today we want to consider three words that we need to speak, and three words that we need to believe if we want an everlasting change in our lives—a change that will bring freedom, blessings, and finally heaven. We’ll learn about these life-changing words when we look more closely at a dinner Jesus attended. Allow me to describe the events of that dinner through the eyes of one Jesus’ disciples.
Hi, my name is Matthew. I’m the disciple that used to be a tax collector. I think your pastor wanted me to speak to you about this dinner because, well, as a former tax collector I was used to throwing lavish banquets. In fact I threw such a dinner for Jesus once so that all of my friends could meet him. But the dinner that I’m supposed to describe to you today was one that a Pharisee named Simon hosted. Are you surprised to hear that a Pharisee would invite Jesus to dinner? Yeah, we also were surprised to receive the invitation. You see, the Pharisees were generally not friendly towards Jesus. They thought that he ignored the teachings of Moses, and they hated how Jesus was critical of them, accusing them of being hypocrites. Just as you wouldn’t likely invite to dinner the new guy at work who is criticising your work habits, it didn’t seem likely that any Pharisee would want to hang out with Jesus.
And it was quickly clear from the moment we arrived that Jesus wasn’t really welcome at Simon’s house. Simon didn’t greet Jesus with the customary kiss. Nor did he offer Jesus any water with which to wash his feet. For you I suppose that would be like inviting someone over to your house for dinner, but then refusing to shake their hand when they arrived and not bothering to take their coat or offer them something to drink. Wouldn’t that person wonder why you had invited them over in the first place if you were going to treat them so rudely? And maybe that’s what Simon was up to. Maybe he thought he could embarrass Jesus with these insults forcing Jesus to make a few tight-lipped comments about not being welcome before withdrawing. But as always, Jesus surprised us. He just took the insult in stride and made himself at home at one of the banquet tables. You see, in Jesus’ mind, Simon wasn’t the enemy. He was just another victim of sin for whose sake Jesus had come.
But Jesus wasn’t going to let Simon off the hook. His opening to address Simon’s rudeness came in an unusual way. While we were reclined at the dinner table, as was our custom, a woman approached Jesus. She fell at his feet and started crying. With her tears she wet Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them dry with her hair before pouring expensive perfume on them. It took me just a few seconds to describe the scene, but this was an interruption of several minutes—an interruption that made us all uneasy. Isn’t that how you feel when you’re in a room where a stranger is crying?