Summary: Church life can become awful conventional, safe and predictable. One day Jesus met a woman who blew all of that away.

Our text for this morning is a surprising story of the reaction that different people had when they met Jesus. It is Luke 7:36-50. I encourage you to open your Bible so you can see it for yourself. In the pew Bibles it is on page 66 of the New Testament section. And please stand for the reading of God’s word.

36 "One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher,” he replied, "Speak." 41 "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." 48 Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

One evening a Pharisee invited Jesus over for a little dinner party. You can imagine that Jesus had been the guest preacher in his synagogue that week. Now we all grew up hearing that Pharisees were the bad guys. But I want you to understand that if any of us had been guests around the table that night, we probably would have been really impressed by this guy.

We know from the text that he was hospitable. Jesus probably looked like he needed a good meal. He was intrigued by this traveling teacher who had come through town, Jesus of Nazareth. He had him over for supper. Good for him.

When was the last time you had anybody over for supper for the purpose of learning from them about God? When was the last time you invited someone over to your house just to honor them as a servant of God? When was the last time you invited someone over for a good theological discussion?

I consider myself hospitality challenged, so anybody who puts on any dinner party impresses me.

But then, he was a Pharisee. That means he took his religion very seriously. Pharisees were strict about giving one tenth of their income to God. Here I can say I do the same, but studies estimate that the average church member in America gives only 3% of his or her income to the church. This guy gave a full 10%. He put his money where his mouth was. That’s impressive. And if he had a house big enough to hold a banquet, he was probably one of the most prosperous people in town.

You get the feeling that he is a cautious man. And isn’t caution a good thing? He’s sort of sitting back and watching Jesus. And when this disreputable woman comes in and starts carrying on, he takes note. “No, this Jesus isn’t as holy as people think he is. He should see through a woman like that.” Isn’t that kind of discernment a good thing?

You get the feeling that he was a frugal man. At some banquets the hosts would have a bunch of slaves out to wash everybody’s feet after the dusty walk over, and then they would pour expensive perfume on them and all. But this Pharisee seemed content with a simple lifestyle. Good for him.

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