Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bethany Bullet - September 22, 2015

Generous Life…Unbounded Courage

In the 2005 movie, Wedding Crashers, two friends played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson find out the hard way that sneaking into the wrong party can cause serious problems.
If you haven’t seen the movie, that’s OK, because I’m not here to recommend the movie, in fact, it is not in the least bit family friendly, but it does show that crashing a party can have some very debilitating repercussions. 

We’ve all heard about party crashers, those who have made a habit of crashing the parties of the elite, never having their names on the guest list.  Sometimes it goes well, other times the authorities get involved and someone ends up spending time in lock up. 

Our text from Sunday, describes an exclusive party thrown by the religious elite of the day.  The Pharisees believed that they were able to live a life that satisfied all the laws of God and they were interested in getting to know more about this Jesus character and what he was teaching so they invited him to a dinner party. 

“A woman who had lived a sinful life in that city found out that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. So she took a bottle of perfume and knelt at his feet.  She was crying and washed his feet with her tears.  The she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them over and over again, and poured perfume on them.” (Luke 7:37-38)

The party had been crashed.  An uninvited guest was in attendance.  Her name was not on the list. 
Imagine believing that you are not all that bad, that you are so much better than others, and that some deserve less of God’s generosity and some deserve more. 

Such was the Pharisee in our text.  He believed that he needed only a little bit of grace, perhaps the equivalent of a $50 debt.  After all, he had led a righteous life, he had studied the Torah, he knew the law, and strived to satisfy it all on his own.  His minor transgressions were nothing compared to this party crasher.

This sinful woman had crashed his party, and he hopes to set things right by pointing her out, and dismissing her because of her transgressions. 

“If this man really were a prophet, he would know what sort of woman is touching him.  She’s a sinner.” (Luke 7:39b)
Jesus doesn’t immediately rebuke the Pharisee but leads him to see what true generosity is.  His point was to make sure all at the party knew that no one, not the sinful party crasher, or the arrogant party host is beyond grace. 

The Pharisee was struggling with the idea that Jesus would accept the repentance of the woman. 

The act of the woman was an outward expression of internal contrition.  Everyone in the town, even the author of the story who didn’t live in the town, knew what kind of life this woman had lived; but no one knew the life she had lived better than herself and her God. 

She turns to Him in sorrow and repentance He turns to her in mercy and grace.  The Pharisee and the rest of the guest turn up their noses at both. 

Do you think there are some who are not worthy to be on the guest list, be it of God’s earthly house, or His eternal one?

Do you believe that you can work your way onto the list by the things you do?

In the historic confessions of the church we use words like, “poor miserable, sinner,” “I justly deserve your eternal punishment,” and “I have not loved with my whole heart.”

Do you fully understand the scope of these phrases?  These words are not those spoken by the perceived righteous, but by humble sinners.

Notice that the woman comes up behind Jesus, and Jesus, rather than step away from her and toward the Pharisee endorsing his position on the matter, turns around and faces her. 

Then, much to the chagrin of those in attendance, Jesus does not rebuke her, but welcomes her.  This is true generosity. 

In fact, I think that the Pharisees are the true party crashers here trying to finagle their way into the presence of God by their own efforts.

You cannot crash your way into heaven.  You cannot force your name on the guest list, but the true host, Jesus Himself, has put your name on the list.
For the times you have thought you had it all figure out, thought you were better than others and on an elite status with God.  For the times you judged others and thought of yourself more highly than you ought.  Jesus turns to you and says what he said to the woman at the party, “Your sins have been forgiven” (Luke 7:48) and He puts your name on the list. 

For the times you have messed up royally, when you could be described as an elite sinner and were in need of help well beyond your ability; for what you have done, and for what you have left undone, Jesus turns to you and says what he said to the woman at the party, “Your sins have been forgiven” (Luke 7:48) and He puts your name on the list. 

In Christ your sin has been forgiven.  His life has become your life, his death paid for you; he died in your place.  He put your name in the book of life, and that is a party you want to attend. 

This text teaches us about the generosity of God, but also about a generous life.  The woman displays unbounded courage to crash the party, not because she thinks she will be able to hobnob with the elite, but humble herself in service at the feet of Jesus. 

At some point her faith flowed into action.  We are not told how or where that exactly happened but it is clear that it did.  Faith in Jesus as the Christ had become her own, and she responds with unbounded courage to display her thankfulness in the face of ridicule and oppression from the supposed elite.  In so doing she clings to Christ, she gives an offering and kneels in contrition at the feet of her Lord.

Penitent sinners believe that clinging to Christ is essential. 

Many proud sinners assume that a passing association with Jesus in enough.  So it was with the Pharisee, and so it is with many in the church today.

But faith calls us to have unbounded courage, to confess that we are poor miserable sinners in need of a savior and in so doing we experience reconciliation and renewal as we kneel at the cross and find that in this place our sin has been forgiven and we experience a generous life in the person of Jesus who generously gives us everything we need. 

-Pastor Seth Moorman 


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