Summary: Exploration of forgiveness.
(Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman)
Title: The Answer to your deepest need
Aim: To present the need for forgiveness that will make the congregation ask if they are missing out on something.
A Salvation Army Officer, who worked with street people, was approached by a prostitute who was in a desperate situation. He wasn’t in uniform, she didn’t know he was a Christian, she just knew him as someone who might be able to help. She described the mess she was in: she was sick, she was homeless, she was a drug addict and had a two year old daughter that she couldn’t even afford to buy food for. The officer was upset but horrified to see the woman’s situation, but he tried not to let it show. He asked her if she had ever gone to the church for help . She looked at him in amazement "church!" she said, " Why would I ever go there? They’d just make me feel even worse than I already do!"
I guess you could say that the church has lost touch with the Jesus who was a friend of the outcast and the sinner. Perhaps because the church sometimes seems so unforgiving, we have lost what forgiveness really means, we have forgotten how Jesus forgave. You may not think so, but our greatest need is forgiveness. Do you not think so? Well, let’s look at the story to see what we can discover.
1. The heart of the Pharisee
Perhaps the church today, perhaps you, have the heart of Simon the Pharisee. He was the man in whose house Jesus was having dinner. It was normal custom for people living in Israel at the time of Jesus to welcome visitors with a kiss, to give them water to wash their feet (they wore sandals on dusty roads remember) and anoint his head with perfumed oil. Simon had not done any of that. Perhaps we could say that maybe Simon felt that he was a good man, on equal standing with Jesus, he thought he was just as good as Jesus so he wasn’t going to lavish any kindness on him.
What kind of heart is it that has that attitude? The heart that has no regard for Jesus. No regard for another’s comforts, a puffed up image, the view that he didn’t need a saviour.
We can tell more about Simon’s heart when the former prostitute came into the house. He certainly didn’t want to have anything to do with this woman; he certainly didn’t want her in his house. More than that, he definitely thought that someone like Jesus shouldn’t be mixing with the likes of her!
Simon was too busy looking at the faults in others to see the sin in his own life. He was too blind to see his own need.
Of course, Jesus, being God, knew what Simon was thinking. So Jesus, in the way that only he could, addresses Simon’s bad heart by a little story.
2.The heart of the matter
Jesus’ story was quite simple. Perhaps I can re-tell it by using a modern example.
There was a man who had purchased a bicycle from Halfords using his credit card and another man who purchased a brand new motorbike from Halford on a credit arrangement. The bicycle cost about £120, but the motorbike was almost £12,000! The man with the bicycle only had it to travel to a job which he didn’t really like anyway, then he lost the job and couldn’t afford to keep the bike. But the man with the expensive motorbike had just been made redundant in his high paid job, there was no way he could make the payments, and he was in real big trouble if he couldn’t pay the £12000 and all the interest that had built up. Then, out of the blue, the manager of the store called the men up and told them that the company had made so much money that year that they didn’t have to pay their debt, so he cancelled their obligation to pay.
Now lets think….who is going to be more grateful for the debt being cancelled? Yes, of course, the man who owed the £12,000!!! You see the bicycle man didn’t really see his debt as being that significant, he didn’t really care much about the manager who had let him off. The man who owed a lot was really really relieved and ecstatic and he thought the manager was the best man in the world.
You can see what Jesus was saying to Simon when he told the story similar to the one I just told. He was saying "Simon, you really don’t know what it is like to be forgiven the same way this woman has. In fact, your outward actions towards me just prove that you have not received forgiveness from me that makes you want to show you love as this woman has done."