The Jerusalem 500
The Daytona 500 was this week, but the biggest race of our life should be the race to the place of forgiveness to be saved! Make no pit stops at good works, baptism, or communion…just trust completely in Jesus’ finished work on Calvary. Don’t go in circles, like Israel making laps around Mt. Sinai. Just go straight to Christ, the starter and finish line of our faith!
It matters not if you’ve done 50 sins or 500…we all must fall in line behind the pace setter and get saved the same way…and it’s a privilege to be forgiven, no matter how much!
Jesus gave this parable on an occasion where He was invited to eat at the house of a Pharisee - Lk 7:36-50
I. THE PARABLE AND ITS SETTING
A. THE SETTING...
1. Jesus accepts an invitation to eat at a Pharisee's house
- Lk 7:36
2. A woman "who was a sinner" (perhaps a prostitute) comes in...
a. She brings an alabaster flask of fragrant oil - Lk 7:37
b. She first stands behind Jesus, weeping - Lk 7:38a
c. She then washes His feet with her tears, and wipes them with her hair - Lk 7:38b
d. Finally, she kisses His feet and anoints them with the fragrant oil - Lk 7:38c
3. The host wonders whether Jesus could truly be a prophet, for if so He would know what kind of woman she was - Lk 7:39
4. Knowing what is in the Pharisee's heart, Jesus asks if He can share something - Lk 7:40 [unasked-for advice is seldom appreciated and never heeded]
B. THE PARABLE ITSELF...
1. A creditor had two debtors - Lk 7:41
a. One owed five hundred denarii
b. The other owed fifty denarii (a denarius was equivalent to
a day's wage)
2. The debtors could not repay, yet the creditor forgave them
both - Lk 7:42a
C. JESUS FOLLOWS UP WITH A QUESTION AND APPLICATION...
1. He challenges Simon (the Pharisee) with a question - Lk 7:42b
a. "Which of them (the debtors) will love him (the creditor) more?"
b. Simon's response: "I suppose the one whom he forgave more"
1) Does "I suppose" suggest a reluctance to respond on Simon's part?
2) Could it be he has already begun to see the point of the parable?
c. Jesus replies that Simon has properly judged the correct answer
2. Jesus then makes the contrast between Simon and the woman - Lk 7:44-46
a. Simon gave Him no water for His feet, but she washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair
b. Simon gave Him no kiss, but she has not ceased to kiss His feet
c. Simon did not anoint His head with oil, but she anointed His feet with fragrant oil
-- All of these things Simon should have done as a normal host, but he did not do it for the most important Guest of all!
3. Jesus drives the point home - Lk 7:47
a. The first part of this verse is difficult: "...her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much."
1) Is Jesus saying that her love is the "cause" of her forgiveness, or the "proof"?
a) Is she forgiven because she loved much?
b) Or is her much love the evidence of the forgiveness of her many sins?
2) Jesus does say that her "faith" saved her - Lk 7:50
a) That is, her faith was the cause for her being forgiven
b) And her love may have been a reflection of her faith
(cf. "faith working through love" - Gal. 5:6)
b. But the latter part of the verse, and the implication of the parable itself suggests that her love is the result or proof of her forgiveness
1) "But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little"
a) Just as one who receives little forgiveness, loves little...
b) ...so one who receives much forgiveness, loves much!
2) "Her love was the result, and not the cause, of her forgiveness. Our sins are not forgiven because we love God, but we love God because they are forgiven (1 Jn 4:19). Such is the inference of the parable, and such the teaching of the entire NT." (McGarvey's Fourfold Gospel)
3) "For she loved much. Illustration or proof, not reason for the forgiveness. Her sins had been already forgiven and remained forgiven. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. This explanation proves that the meaning preceding is proof, not cause."
(Robertson's Word Pictures)
3. If the woman's love is simply the evidence her forgiveness, as the parable suggests, then Jesus' next words were designed to further reassure her - Lk 7:48, 50
a. "Thy sins are forgiven."
b. "Thy faith has saved thee. Go in peace"
-- Both statements simply confirm that her great display of love was properly placed, for she had indeed been saved by her faith
While Jesus' words in Lk 7:47 are indeed challenging, the parable
and its setting teaches a simple truth:
Those who have been forgiven of much are more likely to appreciate their salvation than those forgiven of little!
II. APPLYING THE PARABLE
A. THIS PARABLE CAN PROVIDE GREAT COMFORT TO SINNERS...
1. Many people who come to Jesus have really made a mess of their lives
2. They know it, and the sense of their guilt is acute
a. But this parable reminds us the Lord is willing to forgive no matter the debt!
b. And the woman reminds us that as one's sense of guilt is magnified, so their love will be greater!
c. With a greater love, there will be the motivation for greater service!
3. Just as with the apostle Paul, who did not consider himself worthy to be called an apostle - cf. 1 Cor. 15:9-10
-- So rather than wallow in your guilt of the past, allow the great forgiveness Jesus offers to motivate you to love and serve Him even more!
B. THIS PARABLE REVEALS HOW WE CAN INCREASE OUR LOVE AND DEVOTION TO JESUS...
1. Remember, the more cognizant we are of the forgiveness we have in Christ, the more we will love and serve Him
2. There are at least two ways one can have a heightened sense of forgiveness
a. One way is to have been forgiven of much, as in the case of this woman
b. But another way is learn more about the nature of sin...
1) I.e., how just one sin makes us guilty of all - Ja 2:10
2) I.e., how the wages of sin is spiritual death, separation from God - Ro 6:23; Isa 59:1-2
3. We cannot change the degree of our sinfulness prior to coming to Christ...
a. But we can always increase the level of our understanding about sin!
b. I.e., the more we learn about the terrible nature of sin...
1) The more we appreciate the forgiveness we have in
2) The more motivated we are by love to serve Him - 2 Cor 5:
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Lord, help me to hate my sin like you do!
1. What is our devotion and service to Jesus like?
a. Do we treat Him like Simon did?
b. I.e., we invite Him into our lives, but really don't give Him the honor He deserves?
2. Could it be that we are more like the Pharisee than we care to admit?
a. Failing to give Jesus the proper devotion due Him?
b. Looking down in self-righteousness at people who we think are not worthy of Him?
3. Remember that those forgiven most are capable of loving Jesus more!
For it was to the sinful woman, and not to self-righteous, that
"Your sins are forgiven."
"Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
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