Summary: All of the transforming power of Jesus flows to a heart that is repentant and turns from a life of sin
The Reality of Repentance
October 31, 2004
A young boy about nine years old went with his parents to Europe one summer. Part of their tour was visiting the great old cathedrals of the past. As he would visit cathedral after cathedral he saw the massive stained glass portraits of the disciples and of other saints. He was so impressed as he stood in these great empty halls looking through the beautiful stained glass windows.
Upon return, when asked by his Sunday School teacher, what about the great churches of Europe did he like the most, and what was his definition of a saint, he thought for a moment and he said, "I loved the sense of awesomeness and the hugeness of who God must be. And what is a saint?" And as his mind went back to those massive beautiful stained glass windows, he said, "A saint is a man the light shines through."
As many of you know today is Halloween but tomorrow is also a holiday for the church. It is the ancient celebration of All Saints Day. The celebration started as a way to commemorate the lives of those who had been martyred for the faith. Now in the United States the day set aside for the remembrance of believers who had died during the previous year.
As I have been reflecting on All Saints Day, I thought of all those whom I knew that had gone home to be with the Lord over the past year. It made me stop and think about what it means to be a saint.
In the early church those who called themselves Christians were given the title saints. What is a saint?
I believe that the most essential quality of a saint is to have a repentant heart. All of the transforming power of Christ flows to those who will simply come to Him and repent. Many believe that repentance is simply coming and asking for forgiveness from Christ. This is merely the first step. Repentance means that there must be a life changing experience with Jesus. It means that a person is transformed by the work of Christ in their life. It means that they cannot remain the same.
A Sunday School teacher once asked a class what was meant by the word "repentance." A little boy put up his hand and said, "It is being sorry for your sins." A little girl also raised her hand and said, "It is being sorry enough to quit."
This morning I want to look at the life of a person who brilliantly illustrates the reality of repentance and sets an amazing example for us to follow. Open your bibles to Luke chapter 7 and we will begin reading at verse 36.
I. The Actions of the Woman (36-38)
The woman was unexpected
During the time of Jesus, many of the wealthy had an additional section on their homes that was used for entertaining and dining. The dining section of many of the homes was a type of porch that allowed people to watch the meal and listen to the conversations. This practice was used to flaunt important visitors to the home with the rest of the community. It is likely that Simon; the Pharisee had one of these types of homes and would have held his meal with Jesus open for the public to see.
The evening that Jesus eats with Simon would have drawn large crowds because people wanted to hear what Jesus was teaching. The woman hears that Jesus was eating with Simon and makes her way through the crowds. She then does what is totally unexpected; she leaves the crowd and enters the meal. The crowds may have gasped. They may have laughed or they may have tried to stop her. No one knows but she did what no one expected, she entered the home of a Pharisee
The woman was unwelcome
Make no mistake this woman was far from being on Simon’s guest list because she was a sinner. We are not told why this woman is “labeled” in such a way but it is likely that she was a prostitute. The moment that she stepped through the crowd and entered the dining area all eyes would have been squarely on her. The questions would have raced through everyone’s mind: What is she doing? Why is she here? Who does she think she is coming here? Where did she come from? When can she be gotten rid of?
She would have been the subject of much scorn and gossip. She would have been an outcast in every sense of the word. She would have been unwelcome at Simon’s table that night.
The woman was unsatisfied
What would have made such a woman risk everything? What would have made her enter the presence of those who would have despised her? The answer is simple; she desperately needed what Jesus was giving to those around Him; the love and acceptance of God.