Simon, a Sinner, and the Savior
“God created man because he loves stories.”-Elie Weisel
Rabbi’s taught that the universe exists because God is telling a story. “The tree of knowledge,” they said, “is facts. But the tree of life is stories.” I think this is why Jesus taught as he did and Scripture is written in stories not in propositions. Here, Luke recounts an explosive and potentially scandalous story.
Jesus has dinner at the home of Simon, a Pharisee. The up and coming young Rabbi who is all the rage is eating in the home of one of the town’s most reputable citizens. Everybody wants to be on the guest list. This is tier one entertainment.
“And, behold, a woman in that city which was a sinner…” (Luke 7:37)
The KJV doesn’t throw around the word, “BEHOLD” for ordinary occurrences. “Behold” means something “bug-eyed-big” is about to happen. Like this…
A woman interrupts the dinner. Luke says, “she was a sinner”. That means she sinned for a living. Right into the middle of this uptown dinner party marches a gal from the “red-light” district. Everyone grabs their cell phones for video to sell to TMZ!
Two, extremely different people are at the table with Jesus. They display extremely different attitudes towards Jesus.
The danger of being “Simonized”
“When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet he would know who was touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner.’” (Luke 7:39)
Simon starts talking to himself. Usually, when we are provoked to the point of muttering to ourselves we engage in the same two lines of conversation-questioning God and complaining about other people.
Every one has a little of Simon in them. But it is much more serious then just a little grumbling now and then. It is the misunderstanding of grace the grumbling betrays. We have an idea of the people that God should welcome and associate with. We also have ideas of people groups God would have, AND SHOULD HAVE, nothing to do with.
Could be hookers. Could be people who take advantage of government welfare, could be corporate cheats and lobbyist. The point is we have a little Simon in us. We would be appalled at the people Jesus loves!
The better we have done with our lives, the greater our danger of being “Simonized." If your bills are paid, your marriage healthy, your kids not off-the-chain crazy, man are you in trouble! Your “do-not-touch” list for God may include all the people who aren’t as smart, resourceful, disciplined and devout as you.
Then there is the hooker
“…she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” (Luke 7:37-38)
Why would a prostitute show up here? She didn’t come for the food. She certainly didn’t come for the company. What moved her to leave her home to walk past women who hated her, hypocrites who had paid to sleep with her, and into the presence of religious people who disdained her?
She came because she heard Jesus was there. She finds herself standing at the feet of Jesus. And as she listens, she begins to cry. She had spent years teaching herself not to cry. Years making sure that the men who were always pawing her body couldn’t touch her heart. Still, she couldn’t help it!
A redeemed heart understands what is happening here.
The Spirit of God has the holy ability to slip past every defense system and grab ahold of your heart. Something in her actually began to hope that this Rabbi would love her and make her worth being loved.
Soon, she is crying so hard that tears are falling from her cheeks onto the feet of Jesus. She hadn’t planned on this. She wasn’t prepared with a towel. So, she falls on her knees at his feet and begins to dry them with her hair. Redeemed people always end up kneeling at the feet of Jesus gratefully serving him.
Jesus says to the muttering Simon, “I came into your house and you did not give me any water for my feet.” (Luke 7:44)
With people walking through dusty streets in bare or sandaled feet, water to wash their feet was common courtesy. You did it for their sake and for yours. The unwashed feet of any person-including Jesus-would not be the least bit attractive and they had to stink.
Whenever people do not know how to extend courtesy or kindness it is going to stink. Whenever we treat Jesus like an invited guest rather than God it is going to stink. Whenever people feel no desire to fall at his feet and honor him it stinks.
The heart of worship
A redeemed heart cannot allow Jesus to be ignored or dishonored. Weeping, the lady dries Jesus’ with her hair and then breaks open an expensive bottle of perfume to pour on his feet. Some estimate the perfume was worth a year’s wages.
When a heart get’s captured, jars start breaking.
Sacrificial giving is an act of worship. If we don’t desire to give, we are not worshippers.
Jesus continues, “I have something to tell you.” Then tells a story.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him 500 hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-42)
This is our story. We owe a debt we cannot pay. We think the debt for 500 than the one for 50. But, in a day when a lender could seize your property, throw you into prison, if you cannot pay, you cannot pay. You will wind up in the same prison regardless of the debt.
But God has canceled our debt. He took the hit for the debt we owed. “All we like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned unto our own way. But God has laid upon him (Jesus) the debt of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
That’s the story. It is Simon’s, the sinner’s, and our story. He paid a debt he did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. And the response of the redeemed will always be the same.
They will love him more. God is after our hearts. When we are truly redeemed that is what he captures.
We aren’t trying to be good to appease God. Anyone who sees the gospel that way-has never been redeemed. We don’t worship because we are trying to escape hell, we do it because we want to please Jesus. It is what happens when you realize how much you owe, how unworthy you are, and how much he had done for you.
Then you,“Stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love you, a sinner condemned unclean.”
That’s our story.