AGCC Sun. a.m. 12/10/2000
#10 (Demands of Discipleship Series)
TEXTS: Luke 7:36-50
INTRO:Many people today will go to church. Yet, how many of them will really worship. Too many people confuse going to church with worshiping God. It is quite possible to go to church and still not truly worship.
Worship is something that flows from our heart to God himself. Worship is much more than just going through the motions, or going through a prescribed set of rituals. True worship changes us.
ILLUS:If worship does not change us, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. Worship begins in holy expectancy; it ends in holy obedience. -- Richard J. Foster (1942- )
Church is not the entertainment industry, it is our coming to God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. If we are not careful we will demand that Church is entertaining rather than transformational.
ILLUS:In recent years I have become increasingly aware of the dangerous possibility of making the Word of God sensational. Just as people can watch spellbound a circus artist tumbling through the air in a phosphorized costume, so they can listen to a preacher who uses the Word of God to draw attention to himself. But a sensational preacher stimulates the senses and leaves the spirit untouched. Instead of being the way to God, his "being different" gets in the way. -- Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Genesee Diary. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that true worship affects real change in our lives, and that it involves all of what we are.
I. INVITATION TO WORSHIP 7:36-43
A. Open 7:36-39
1. We tend to create certain rules for worship … and often this means that someone is shut out who doesn't match our criteria.
a. While there is nothing wrong with developing styles and types of worship services, we must be careful that we don't box God in or His worshippers.
b. History is replete with examples of true worshippers who didn't "fit" the proper category … and they were often rejected.
c. Such examples of Martin Luther, when he rediscovered grace and was banished from the Church for his heretical teachings that allowed the masses to experience God's love, or the "Jesus people" of the early 1970's who wore their bluejeans and their long hair and were not welcomed in our Churches.
2. This invitation for Jesus to join this Pharisee named Simon for a public meal was interrupted by a woman who was not "approved," in Simon's thinking she was not approved to either come into his home, or approved to be a worshipper.
a. This Pharisee was more concerned about political and religious correctness than with this woman's need.
ILLUS:In today's politically correct environment where you have to be so careful to keep from offending anyone, we might all have to give reports like this fourth grader who reported on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. "The pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you know what. When they landed, they gave thanks to you know who. Because of them, we can worship each Sunday, you know where." -- From the files of Leadership.
b. This Pharisee's concern was about his standing, about his need, not about anyone else.
3. It is probable that this Pharisee had not invited Jesus to discover truth, but to trap Jesus in some way.
4. This "improper" woman overcomes her own fear on entering this house of a self-righteous Pharisee because Jesus had somehow already touched her need … notice it states that, "a woman who had lived a sinful life" meaning that Jesus message had already made a difference in her life, now she was coming to worship Him!
a. The Pharisee made no inquiry about her, he did not even know that she had already changed, he was judging her on what she used to be.
b. He probably didn't care anyway … it was all about him, not others … or God!
B. Obvious 7:40-43
1. Jesus invites Simon to tell him who would be more grateful: A man who owed 500 denarii and had just had his debt canceled. (about a year and one half wages … the daily average wage in Jesus' day was about 1 denarius) or a man who owed 50 denarii and had his debt canceled. (a little less than two months wages)
a. Jesus' question was quite simple, if neither man could pay back the debt and yet had it forgiven, which one would love the master more for the debt forgiven, the man who owed 500 denarii or the one who owed 50 denarii?
b. Obviously the one who owed the greater debt would feel greater joy and gratitude!
c. Simon does agree, although reluctantly … note his response in the text: "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
2. Jesus' point should have been clear to him … this woman indeed had been a great sinner … Jesus does not deny what she had been, but Simon was not rejoicing over what she had become now, in fact he doesn't care to even know!
3. Jesus was not about to turn this woman away, or her act of worship … something that Simon had not even remotely done.
ILLUS:Jesus never attacked the sinner. He simply said, "I forgive you." Meanwhile, he attacked the self-righteous with a vengeance, because he knew that until they felt guilty, they couldn't be forgiven. -- Jerry Cook, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 2.
4. Simon had missed the obvious, this woman was overcome with joy and could not stay away from the one who had changed her, she was there out of gratitude for her sins forgiven, she had come to worship Jesus!
a. What was Simon there for? He was there to probably trap Jesus, he was not curious about the truth, only about his own comfort.
b. Simon was in the very presence of God and all he was concerned about was his own comfort and needs … how many do this today when they go to Church? We can be in God's presence and still be critical of our surroundings and miss the opportunity to worship God truly!
II. INTENTIONS OF WORSHIP 7:44-50
A. Opportunity 7:44-48,50
1. Jesus now asks Simon, "Do you see this woman?" This at first seems odd since it was Simon who noticed the woman and complained that Jesus should have known what kind of woman it was who was touching Him … but he did not really SEE this woman!
2. Simon had had every opportunity to experience God as did this woman, but he failed to even give the most basic kindness to Christ.
a. Nearly every Jew that had an invited guest offered water when they arrived to wash their guest's feet, but Simon had done nothing … yet this woman had washed Jesus' feet with her own tears.
b. The usual greeting of an honored guest was a kiss by the host, yet Simon had not given Christ one, yet this woman could not stop kissing Jesus' feet!
c. An honored guest was anointed on the head with cheap inexpensive olive oil when they arrived, yet Simon had not even given the cheapest oil in anointing, yet this woman had anointed Jesus' feet with a most expensive perfumed oil. She probably felt too humble to anoint Jesus' head, and instead takes the place of a servant at His feet and anoints them. (most women of Jesus' day carried flasks of perfume around their necks, so common was this that they were even allowed to do so on the Sabbath)
3. Simon had failed every opportunity afforded him, this woman neglected no opportunity!
a. Simon's failure to grant these usual courtesies for Jesus as his guest may also give indication that he was not seriously interested in what Jesus had to say or who he was, but more interested in trapping Jesus in some way.
b. All this woman could think of was Jesus and her forgiven life, she was there to worship!
4. I wonder sometimes what we do in Church? If we are more concerned about the length of the service, the temperature of the room, the kinds of songs that were done or whether they were new or old, who is here and who is not here … ad infinitum! OR, are we here to worship God?
a. It is easy to get off track, even in the presence of Jesus and not worship Him!
b. True worship will not let us leave unchanged!
ILLUS:Calvin Coolidge said, "It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). (President from Vermont)
5. This woman's whole life had been changed, nothing would keep her from worshipping God.
6. Simon's whole life had stagnated into religious rituals and meaningless expressions. His own self righteousness was keeping him from experiencing God's plan and power.
a. How many of us are in the same place as Simon?
b. When was the last time you really experienced worship?
c. Worship can happen without the warm sanctuary, the greatest organ, the skills of a trained preacher, it comes from our heart to God!
7. Jesus is able to confirm to this woman that her sins are forgiven, she can go in peace … actually Jesus uses the phrase in Greek better translated, "GO INTO PEACE" Jesus clearly states that it was her faith that saved her, not her acts of love.
a. Worship didn't save her, it was the fact that she was saved that caused her to worship. It was her faith that saved her. This is still true!
b. Her heart need no longer be heavy, it is now lightened by God's peace.
c. Her joy can continue, she is a changed person, approved by God.
d. Not even Simon had this, he was the one in sin, and the one in need.
B. Obdurate 7:49
1. Notice that when Jesus affirms this woman's forgiveness of sins that the crowd begins to ask themselves who this Jesus might be.
a. If Simon was not going to consider Jesus' claims, perhaps others might.
b. The other guests ask themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
c. This woman's passion to worship, the changed life she now displayed, maybe there was something to this Jesus that Simon was not seeing.
2. Too many people today don't even give Jesus a chance, they don't even know the power of God to change a life.
3. To many people God is just an idea, and because of this they have no passion to get to know Him.
ILLUS:The Roman general Pompey noticed how the Jews fought to defend their temple. He was anxious to see what was in their most sacred room, the Holy of Holies. He was surprised to see that it was empty. He wondered why they fought so hard to defend an empty room! He didn't understand their concept of a God "eternal, immortal, invisible." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. God is real, His son Jesus died for your sins, and when we come in faith we experience the wonderful reality of our sins forgiven! This allows us to then come and worship Him.
a. Worship that is meaningful and powerful.
b. Worship that changes us, because we have experienced God.
c. When was the last time you worshipped God?
CONCLUSION: Lots of people will find themselves today in places of worship, but it is quite possible that few will really worship in the place they are! We worship God when we truly identify where we have come from, and where we now are in Christ -- and worship is not just going through the motions, it is also through the emotions! Faith brings us in, and God's favor makes it possible to worship Him.