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Sermon Luke 7:36-50
Are You in Love with Jesus?
Intro: Have you ever heard someone say, “I married my best friend!” I think I understand what they mean when they say it. However, I think that there is a difference between being best friends and being married.
There is a love that goes deeper with your spouse than it does with your best friend. So you may have started out as friends, and then started dating and then you became really good friends. You had a lot in common, you enjoyed being with each other. You started to really see the good, the bad and the ugly about each other, and yet you still wanted to be together. The comfort level of being around each other became really natural. And there was a love for each other.
But at some point, you both decided that the whole best friends thing was just not enough. You wanted to get married. You wanted to spend the rest of your lives together in a very exclusive relationship. You were ready to forsake all others for the sake of each other.
The “best friend love” was being given over to a “covenantal love.” You decided to make a life-long commitment to each other until death do you part. This is a different kind of love. This is a union where two people become one. This love is deeper than anything you have ever experienced.
This love is not “love you bro” but it’s “I love you more than anyone else in the world and our relationship is more significant and meaningful than any other human relationship I have!”
The question I’m asking today is: “Are you in love with Jesus?”
On the surface this may sound like a strange question, but not after reading this passage.
This passage shows a contrast between two very different people. Simon the Pharisee and the woman who shows up as an uninvited guest to Simon’s house.
One loves little, dishonors Jesus, is filled with contempt, is prideful and does not understand the depth of his own sin.
The other loves deeply, honors and anoints the Son of God, and is so in touch with her own sin that she is filled with tears of grief.
One is super religious, the other is not religious at all. So, how did these people get to where they are in their understanding of God and His Son Jesus?
We are going to look at two ways we can “fall in love” with Jesus.
- We need to acknowledge and honor Jesus for who He really is
- We need to admit to the depths of our sin and believe in the fullness of His forgiveness
We get to these from the passage itself. So let’s take ourselves back in time to this particular scene in history. Let’s go crash Simon’s party…
V.36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
Retell the story.
- We need to acknowledge and honor Jesus who is the Messiah, the Savior of Sinners.
Simon has no clue who Jesus really is. Remember, Jesus is the new Rabbi in town. Jesus is stirring things up by challenging the religious establishment, which is Simon’s livelihood. But Jesus is not only astounding people with his teaching and knowledge of the Scriptures, but He is also healing people, even raising some from the dead. So, Simon is intrigued but he is pretty skeptical about Jesus.
This is evident when Simon says, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him.” Simon is thinking to himself, Jesus is no prophet because if he was he would not let this woman touch him.
It is also evident in the way Simon treats Jesus when he comes to his house. Jesus himself points this out.
- you gave me no water for my feet
- You gave me no kiss
- You did not anoint my head with oil
Simon does not give Jesus even the most basic hospitality etiquette
But the woman acknowledges exactly who Jesus is and she honors him
- She washes the feet of Jesus with her tears
- She does not cease to kiss the feet of Jesus
- Jesus anoints Jesus with oil
The woman knows who Jesus is and it’s evident from her actions.
To love someone is to acknowledge who they are and to honor them. Do you want to love Jesus deeply? Then you need to believe that He is the Son of God. You need to believe that He is the long-awaited Messiah. You need to believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and honor him with your faith.
Some of you are skeptical of Jesus. Kind of like Simon. You’ve heard the stories, you know people who believe in him but you are just not sure yourself. You want to ask your friends, “I mean come on, do you really think Jesus did all those things?” And they would say, “Yes, I really do and I’ve seen Him do incredible things in my own life and heart as well. But I can’t convince you, only the Holy Spirit can do that. But if you are skeptical then I want to challenge you to keep investigating Jesus, keep coming back here to find out more, read the Bible for yourself and see what you can find out about Him.”
Others of you say you believe Jesus to be God in the flesh. You say you believe on some level that Jesus died to take away your sins. But, you are still in the “best friends” stage of love. You are still trying to figure out if He really is the one for you. You just aren’t sure you want to totally give everything over to him. You are just not sure about this special covenantal love.
It’s like the classic movie storyline where the guy says he loves his girlfriend but just can’t come to ask her to marry him. He might even say to his girlfriend, “Yeah, I want to get married.” But in his mind, he’s thinking, “Except the jury is still out on that.” He likes the feeling of being in that “best friends” love relationship. But the problem is that if he would just commit to the covenantal relationship then he would begin to experience love on a whole new level. He thinks it could never get better, but boy is he wrong. It can get so much better.
Because the woman in the story knows and believes in Jesus, she gets to experience loving him and him loving her in a way she had never experienced before. When she weeps at the feet of Jesus, he doesn’t push her away, Jesus is not ashamed of what she is doing, Jesus is not worried about what other people think. At that moment it was just her and Jesus. The woman was pouring out her shame and Jesus was pouring out his mercy and grace. Can you think of love any deeper?
- In order to fall in love with Jesus we need to admit our sin to him and believe in the fullness of His forgiveness
The scene in this story would have been rather uncomfortable to watch if you were there at the table with everybody. This woman comes into the house and falls down at the feet of Jesus. And she just lets it all out. This is a huge emotional and spiritual dump. She is unloading years and years of sinful baggage literally at the feet of Jesus. Talk about vulnerability, Brene Brown has nothing on this woman.
Have you ever been around someone when they start sobbing? I mean this is an ugly cry, she is a hot mess. And everyone is sitting around thinking to themselves, “What in the world is going on? What is this woman doing here and why isn’t Jesus doing anything?
The passage clues us in on what “kind of woman” this is. That she is a “sinner”. Now normally we might say, “What does that mean?” and in this case, it means that she was probably a prostitute. There must have been something about either her appearance or possibly her notoriety that makes everyone in the room nervous and uncomfortable. And of course Simon the Pharisee is really struggling because anyone outside his house that saw this prostitute go into his house for a “dinner party” is probably judging Simon right now.
What’s interesting is that the woman never says a word about her sin. Her tears are her words. I think everyone in the room and in this room knows what she is doing. She is falling down at the feet of Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One, and she is pouring out her soul. She knows the depth of her sin and she knows the holiness of Jesus and it brings her to her knees, to weep, and sob and even start wiping the tears from Jesus’ feet with her hair. It’s a dinner party gone off the rails.
But then Jesus takes control of the situation. Not by pushing the woman away but by telling a parable. Jesus answers the thoughts of Simon and the tears of the woman with a story about two people who owed someone money. The one guy owed about $75,000 and the other owed about $7,500. But the moneylender cancels the debt of both. So Jesus wants Simon to say “out loud” which of the two men loved the moneylender more? And Simon says, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt. And Jesus says, “You have judged rightly.”
To make the point of the story crystal clear to Simon and all his friends, Jesus explains that this woman, who is an outcast, this woman who has not experienced covenantal love but abused instead, this woman whom everyone is judging right now, this woman who is not religious at all; will be able to love God more than Simon will. She is the one who knows her true self, she is the one who is willing to admit to the sin that she has been hiding deep inside for a long time. And that is the type of person that is able to fall in love with Jesus.
Simon wasn’t falling in love with Jesus because he refused to see himself as he truly was. Which was a self-righteous, inhospitable, prideful, contemptuous jerk.
Jesus is telling us that if we really want to experience deep, covenantal love then we have to give up the facade. We have to stop thinking we are better than others, we have to stop pretending that we are really not that bad. We have to admit to our brokenness.
Do you remember the story of David and Bathsheba. Yeah, epic failure; deceit, adultery, and murder. David pulled a bonafide trifecta with the whole sinning thing. And then he is confronted by the prophet Nathan because he was trying to hide it from everyone. But Nathan exposes David and he weeps as well. David does turn back to the Lord, even after his heinous sins and he unloads on God in Psalm 51. I’m sure the parchment was wet after he finished writing this Psalm. And he writes these words towards the end of the Psalm:
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
David knows that when we sin, God does not want our sacrifices to make up for it. God wants our hearts. God wants a broken spirit and a contrite (broken down with grief and deeply sorrowful for sin) heart.
The woman exhibits this and it allows her to love Jesus more deeply. If you want to read what love is read 1 Corinthians 13, but if you want to see what love is read Luke 7 and then go and read Luke 22-23 where Jesus stands in your place, facing the mocking, taking the beatings and eventually taking the wrath of God upon Himself for your sins. Read about Jesus dying on a cross to pay the penalty you could never pay in order to give you a life with him forever.
So here’s the deal. If Jesus really is who He says He is, then you need to get on board with it. Because if you are just doing the church thing, going to the Bible study thing, hanging out with some Christians thing, then you are just like Simon, you are religious but you are missing out on the greatest love relationship ever.
You are living in a shallow, safe and polite relationship with Jesus. Friends, that is dangerous. Because if you say with your mouth that you love Jesus, but in your heart you are far from him, you will see the wrong end of eternity.
You are really just living a fraudulent life, and it will eventually catch up to you. I’ve been listening to a podcast about the youngest woman billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes. A Stanford Univerisity dropout, she created a company called Theranos that claimed it could perform over 250 medical tests on someone with only one drop of their blood. She boasted that this would completely change the healthcare industry and save millions of lives. And it would have if it was real and actually worked. She duped corporate executives and venture capitalists across the globe to invest millions of dollars in her medical device. But it never worked. And she was found out. On the outside she put on a great show and was very convincing, but on the inside, she knew all along what she was doing was wrong and would never work.
Do you want that to be the story of your life? Is that the legacy you want to leave? A shallow faith that never takes the chance to love deeply and boldly? A life that looks good and religious on the outside but on the inside is cold and dead towards Jesus? It’s time to stop playing the religion game and start loving Jesus for who He really is. It’s time to get out of the shallow end of the pool and jump headlong into the deep end. Yes, it’s scary but exhilarating.
Some of you have been coming here for a while. You feel pretty comfortable, you’ve gotten to know a few people. Coming on Sundays makes you feel good about yourself. You are satisfied with the minimum daily allowance of spirituality. But you are fooling yourself and you are missing out.
You need to start asking yourself some serious questions that are going to make you uncomfortable
- Are you really opening your heart up to God?
- Are you asking God to challenge you in your faith?
- Are you praying that God will shake things up in your life and put a fire in your soul?
- Are you satisfied with reading a devotional about the Scriptures or are you willing to really dig in and study them for yourself?
- Are you confessing your sins that only you and God know about?
- Which sins do you find pleasurable that God wants to make bitter?
- Does your sin bring you to your knees in an ugly cry?
- Is there a movement in your life toward repentance?
- Are you living your Christian life out of duty or delight?
- Are you viewing the suffering in your life as a chance to draw near to God or to blame Him and push Him away?
- Who do you need to reconcile with?
- Is serving an inconvenience for you or a way to use your God-given talents to make an impact?
- Have you ever asked yourself why you fall asleep in church? Or why you are not moved to sing and enjoy the worship?
If I found myself week after week, falling asleep in church, bored with the service and frustrated that I’m on the volunteer schedule again…you know where I would be? I would be 300 feet away in my boat fishing on Sunday morning.
Yes, I am challenging you to give some serious consideration about whether or not you have fallen in love with Jesus or whether you are just content to watch the game on Sunday with him and your pals.