Getting Over Your Selfie: Christ Came for the Broken
Pastor Russell Scoggins
Sermon Date: 7/7/2019
Bible Reference: Luke 7:36-50
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 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.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I’m going to give you two options to think through and make a decision. If you had the choice to go to lunch with one of the two following individuals, who would you choose to go to lunch with? Option one: you go to lunch with a seemingly nice person—a respectable person. Maybe they have a family. Maybe they have a good job. Maybe they’re generous—they might even pay for your lunch. Maybe they’re a presentable individual. Would you want to go to lunch with that individual? Or with the following individual? Option two: you go to lunch with a recovering drug addict. And certainly not all addicts look like the individual I’m about to describe…. But for the sake of the illustration and for the purpose of contrasting them with the last individual I described, let’s say maybe this person is rough around the edges. Maybe they have tattoos all over their body. Maybe they’re not modestly dressed. Throughout the course of lunch you’ll probably hear language that would make grandma blush. Maybe their life is a mess. Maybe they’re not presentable. Maybe they’re not the kind of person you would want your kids hanging out with. So, who would you choose to go to lunch with? Person number one? The seemingly presentable and respectable individual? Or parson number 2? The rough around the edges recovering drug addict? Think about it for a moment—who would you choose?
I would go to lunch with the recovering drug addict—every time, no questions asked. Why do you think that is? I’m going to give you a vague answer right now and as we continue moving along today, we will unpack and examine this vague answer. The reason I would choose to go to lunch with the recovering drug addict is this: An addict in recovery GETS IT. They understand.
The woman in our verses today GETS IT. She understands. Let’s go through the story. Jesus is invited to the house of a Pharisee (Simon) for a dinner party. Everybody in town who was anybody would have been at this dinner party. Certainly, there were several Pharisees there. These were respectable men. They were the churchgoers of the day—they’d been in church all their lives. They were the kinds of role models you wanted your kids hanging out with.
As far as this party’s guest list goes, it would seem that Jesus was given some amount of priority because he was one of the people reclining at the table. Picture the scene with me. Simon and his Pharisee buddies knew about Jesus and they wanted to see if everything people said was true. Was he really a teacher? Prophet? Miracle worker? So they gather in the dining room. Those who were at the top of the guest list would have been reclining on the floor at the dining room table. Those who weren’t as high on the guest list would have been standing around the outside of the room. There may have been a few people that heard about this gathering by word of mouth and decided to just show up and observe. It would seem that there was at least one individual who heard about this gathering and decided to show up.
This individual, just like Jesus, just like the pharisees, had a reputation; however, she had a reputation for all the wrong reasons. She was rough around the edges to say the least. Our verses call her a woman who had led a sinful life. What kind of sinner was she? Generally speaking, in the Bible, a woman who gained a reputation for being a sinner was a prostitute—someone who slept around with other people. So Jesus is reclining with the other respectable guests at the table and this sinful woman—probably a prostitute—stands right behind Jesus. She’s weeping—not just a tear or two...She is weeping profusely. Her crying is so intense that she is able to use her tears to bend down and wash Jesus’ feet. She uses her hair to wipe his feet. Washing feet was a common custom of the day. Simon had not offered to have someone wash Jesus feet. He didn’t even give him the things he needed to let him wash his own feet. Then this sinful woman takes the perfume that she had brought and she pours it on Jesus feet. Here’s a neat side thought for you. This woman may have gone out and bought this perfume for this specific purpose. But here’s an equally likely scenario...prostitutes who worked the street…. What did they own? Perfume. It was one of the tricks of the trade to entice men. She may have brought the very perfume she used to entice men, and yet now, in her state of repentance, it’s been repurposed for a beautiful thing. She uses it to anoint Jesus’ feet.
This entire situation caused a scene, no doubt. Simon sees what’s going on and he thinks to himself, “If this man (Jesus) were (truly) a prophet (like the people claim), he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus knows Simon’s thoughts, so he confronts him. He tells a mini parable. Two individuals owe money to the same person. One owes 500 denarii (almost 2 years worth of pay) and one owes 50 (almost 2 months worth of pay). The person to whom they owe money forgives their debts. Certainly, that would have been a big relief for both individuals that owed money. Then Jesus asks, which individual that had their debt forgiven is going to love the person that forgave them more? The one who had the smaller debt forgiven? Or the larger debt? Which individual would be more grateful? Obviously, the one who owed more money is going to be more grateful, they are going to love the person who forgave their debt more. It may have taken decades for that person to work off their debt. Yet in an instance, it was forgiven, they were free of their debt. The other individual probably could have paid their debt off over the course of a few years.
Jesus is pointing this mini parable at those in the room. This woman would be the individual that owes a lifetime worth of debt because of her sin. The pharisees would be those with a smaller debt as they were the respectable ones who daily made an effort to observe God’s law and avoid sin.
After the parable and the explanation, Jesus looks at Simon and says, it’s clear that you have been forgiven little—from the moment I walked in this door, you have shown me no love…. Yet this woman’s love for me is obvious, therefore, her debt… which in human terms is much larger than yours, has been forgiven. Read in between the lines there, the implication would be that even though Simon’s debt is smaller from a human perspective (not from God’s perspective, just from a human perspective), the debt of his sin has not been forgiven. The scene wraps up with Jesus looking at the woman and saying, “Your sins are forgiven...Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Application… There’s so many directions we could go. So many directions I would love to go… there’s a powerful roles of men and women application here, but I’ll have to save that for another day…. Sticking with our direction today, this woman GETS IT. She UNDERSTANDS. Christ came for the broken. Christ came for her. I’ll state this simply and bluntly. If you think that God loves you because you have got your life together, then you are in a very dangerous place. If you think God loves you because you follow all the rules, then you are in a very dangerous place. If you think God loves you because you never miss a Sunday and you serve in every way you are able to, you are in danger of cutting yourself off from Christ. Christ does not love you because you do what you’re supposed to.
Christ loves you because of who he is, not because of who you are. Why would I always choose to have lunch with a recovering addict over and above someone who has their life together? Because they get it—they understand that they are broken. They understand that they are powerless against their flaws. And whether you are a recovering addict or not, the truth is the same. We are powerless against sin. Your life may LOOK like it’s more put together than the life of a some recovering addicts, but the truth is, when we stand before God, our heart and life is just as much of a mess as anyone else's. In fact, if we are unable to recognize that, apart from Christ, we are powerless against our sins and shortcomings, then our heart is even more of a mess than anyone else's.
When we stand before God’s law, none of us are more put together than the next. Every single one of us are just as broken as the next. Every single one of us need Christ just as desperately as the next. Outside of him, our debt can not be forgiven—no matter how seemingly great or seemingly small.
We don’t have time to get into too much specific application… but the fact is, this concept has implications for every area of our lives—it applies in far more places than we would think. I hope you’ll take this concept home and think about and apply it. Go home and ask yourself this question: Where in my life do I display a pharisaical attitude? In what ways do I fail to come to Jesus with a heart of repentance? In what ways do I point the finger at others rather than pointing it at myself.
I do want to give you one concrete example for you to chew on. I want to tell you about something I saw unfold right in front of my eyes some time ago. First let me tell you why pharisaical attitudes are something I’m passionate about fighting, and why you should be passionate about fighting them as well. Almost every time I walk the streets and speak with people about Jesus, I come across at least one individual who used to be a churchgoer, but left the church because someone was a pharisee towards them—someone treated them legalistically. Certainly, it’s a valid Scriptural line of thought that the one who turns away from Jesus is responsible for their own sin…. But when we justify our pharisaical attitudes and actions that way, we too are in danger. An equally valid Scriptural line of thought would be the following: the one who lives as a pharisee, will die as a pharisee—apart from Christ. Look at the story of the prodigal son. Look at what Jesus implies right here to Simon.
Alright, the story that, to this day, hurts my heart and frustrates me to think about ...It happened in a church—it wasn’t either of our churches. The service had ended, and I was in the back of church chatting with someone. As I’m chatting with this person, I’m keeping an eye on a couple of young kids in the back of church. They’re running back and forth and laughing and enjoying life. It’s making my heart happy. Here are two kids that are enjoying being at church… they’re making fond memories at church... they’re fellowshipping with one another in the way that kids fellowship. I see an elderly woman hobble up on her cane. She stops the kids dead in their tracks. And with a frightening face she loudly proclaims to the kids, “God doesn’t want you running in his house.” My heart broke. It took all my self-control not to make a stern face at her and loudly proclaim, “God doesn’t want YOU running around his house acting like a Pharisee. You wonder why the church has lost a whole generation…? Well? Pharisaical attitudes like that are part of the reason. The misguided notion that what kids need above all else is to have the fear of God driven into them is fundamentally flawed. That type of pharisaical attitude drives people away from Christ, it does not draw them to his love. That’s the same pharisaical attitude that makes someone walk up to a first time visitor and tell them that if they’re going to come back, they need to wear less revealing clothes. That is the same pharisaical attitude that keeps someone from looking for ways to witness to a person because they have tattoos, gauges, or a different haircut. That is the same pharisaical attitude that walks up to someone after a service and tells them they need to do a better job controlling their kids if they’re going to be in God’s house. That’s the same pharisaical attitude that tells someone from another culture and background that: if you want God to love you, you need to act, think, speak, and worship I do.”
Obviously I didn’t say any of that to this woman. It wouldn’t have helped the situation… and if I had spoken to her in that moment, I would have been speaking in anger, and it would not have been loving. Yes, I feel very strongly about this topic. But here’s the thing, Jesus feels even more strongly than I do about this topic. If you think some of my comments were jarring and thought-provoking, imagine having being in the room when Jesus implies to Simon that his sins aren’t forgiven, but a prostitutes are. When we allow our legalistic, man-made, pharisaical, and cultural laws to shine brighter than Christ’s love for the broken—then we’re in trouble. When we trick ourselves into thinking that the way we act is what makes God love us more, then we’re in trouble.
Mark 2:17, “Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Christ did not come to call the righteous, he came to call sinners. He came for the broken. He came for you.
Let’s close with a prayer. Gracious Father in heaven, we give you thanks that every sin is paid for in Christ—those times we have gone astray: paid for by Christ; those times we have lived as pharisees: paid for by Christ. We humbly ask today that you would rid our hearts of every pharisaical attitude. Use your law to remind us every single day that we are the most broken sinner this earth has to offer. And then Lord, point us back to Christ in whom our large debt of sin was forgiven. Point us to the one who came to save the most broken of sinners. Point us to the one who came to save us. Amen? Amen.