You Are Loved
As I thought about what should I preach about during these last 3 weeks as Senior Pastor, I thought maybe I should pull out my three best sermons and call it Pastor Bates Greatest Hits – but we’ve already done that. Then I thought maybe I should review the things I have taught you. When I told Travis I was going to speak on the greatest truths I had taught you – he said: well that shouldn’t take long.
So the format will be a little different the next three weeks but these are some things so important, I hope you never forget them.
The first is this: Love It is an easily abused word – one that can be used to manipulate or coerce but it is also a word that forms the basis of our relationship with God and others. In fact Galatians 5: 6 tells us: “for in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value; the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
A love story
Luke 7:36-5036 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,[c] and the other fifty. 42Neither 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.”
Jesus was invited to have dinner with a Pharisee – you are probably familiar that they were the legalists of the day – insisting upon strict adherence to the old covenant ready to pounce on any perceived violation. He was the guest of honor – house open to the outside.
Along comes a woman of ill repute – the message calls her the town harlot – a hooker. She had heard about Jesus, recognized her position in life and decided that she needed a helping of grace.
At one time she was someone’s little girl – filled with girlhood dreams but as she grew older something happened – maybe she was abused – left widowed at a early age or simply fell into the wrong crowd. Somehow she lost her self respect. Her life had become an endless parade of one man after the next.
Irony is obvious –a person despised by society at the home of one of its prominent citizens. (sounds a little like today’s politicians but we wont go there) Stood behind Jesus – head toward the table – began to weep – tears of embarrassment and guilt for her lifestyle. Vs. 38 says she did three things: wiped the tears with her hair (letting down her hair was a sign of a sexual invitation) kissed his feet and anointed them with perfume. What poor etiquette – what was she thinking?
Every society adopts ways to welcome and honor people. In our society we generally smile, say hello and shake hands. This is called etiquette. Etiquette is culturally bound – what is proper in one setting in one era may not be in another. For example here are some etiquette questions for those living in America in 2012. show one at a time.
This was more than using the wrong fork or burping at the table – this was a major violation of respect and etiquette.
Vs. 39 – the Pharisee seizing his chance says: ahah this proves this Jesus is no prophet – no self respecting prophet would allow such a woman to touch him according to the Levitical law he would then be defiled.
So Jesus tells them a parable – a familiar story of debtors but with an unfamiliar ending – the debts were forgiven – one large – 500 units and one small 50 units . Which would be more grateful?
The Pharisee in a sarcastic way responds: well I suppose the one with the bigger debt – he supposes.
In verses 44,Jesus turns toward the woman but he speaks to Simon. Up til now the conversation has been between Simon and Jesus.
Jesus looks at the woman. When you want someone’s full attention – when you want to deliver a message you look them in the eye. By looking at her, he includes her in the conversation. She becomes a part of something wholesome.
Somehow the love of Jesus came through to her in that look. Wondering if she would be source of ridicule – she is loved. He looks at her: Not in the dark alleyways but in the light of a dinner; not with lust but with love; not as a commodity but as a person, not with hidden motives but a pure heart. No one had looked at her like that in a long time.
Asks Simon: do you see this woman? He isn’t asking for a physical reality but do you really see this woman. Of course not, I am valuable – she is a throw away – I have means – she is poor – I am a man she is a woman – I have respect – she has none – of course I don’t see her – why would i?
Jesus explains what her earlier actions meant? It was proper etiquette and a sign of respect that when the guest of honor came to the party:
First: You greeted him with a kiss – cheek if he was of the same status; on the hand if he was a rabbi or important official; certainly not on the foot – the lowest member of the body – old covenant talks about making the enemies your footstool – the ultimate insult make them smell your feet – a humbling act
Second: You washed their feet – friend you gave a pail of water but for an honored guest – you washed their feet not Simon – beneath me.
Third: A thoughtful host would give olive oil to put on – in a world of a surplus of heat and a scarcity of deodorant that was important.
The lack of these would be an insult, a slap in the face, a disregard for the respect of your guest. In our day, it would be equivalent to inviting over a special guest; he knocks on the door, you yell come in, never move from the lazy boy; continue watching Cops on tv and never even say hello.
So as we look at this story, we see the righteous person does what is wrong and the sinner does what is right?
Vs. 47 sins are forgiven because you love much – in verse 50 we find that she loved much because she had faith. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love. What are the practical applications of this story? How does this story apply to us today?
Love means there are times we have to risk This lady took a great risk – she would never have been invited – she humbled herself to come to Jesus. She risked it because she loved Jesus.
It is risky to love someone – they may not love you back, they may reject you, they may hurt you. The result of not loving is to live a lonely, selfish, and unfulfilled life.
So we reach out to people – risking it – knowing there will be rejections along the way but the rewards are great.
For people you love, you are willing to take a risk.
Giving is an expression of love
We can say that we love without giving but it rings hollow. The lady gave what she had – tears, perfume, honor and said this is an expression of my love.
Jesus gave what he had: a respect for her as a person – gave her dignity - the forgiveness of sins.
The greatest verse in the bible says: God so loved that he gave. Gave knowing there would be some who would refuse the gift but he gave anyway – knowing it would cost her his life but he gave anyway.
Anne Lamont tells the story of an 8 year old boy whose sister is dying of leukemia. She needed a blood transfusion. Would you give a pint of your blood? Let me think about it. Next day – yes. As you would expect he was extremely nervous, went to the hospital, hooked up to an Iv and watched as the blood drained from his body to his 6 year old sister. Doctor came over to check and said how are you doing? Fine how long until I begin to die?
God doesn’t ask us to give him our blood. He asks us to give him our time – get to know him; give him our talents so we can serve him and to give him our treasure so the ministry of the gospel can go forward.
Love delights in the one who is loved
The lady did not give because she had to but because she wanted to. She was so delighted in the person of Jesus, she said I have to show my love in some way that is honorable.
When we are in love with our spouse, the very sight of them causes us to smile and light up. The Song of Solomon teaches us that true love celebrates the beloved.
We delight in others the way God delights in us. III John says: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” If that is true for us as physical parents it is also true for God our spiritual parent. He sees us with all of our inconsistencies and warts and loves us anyway.
When we love another individual, it is not because of the dimensions of their body, it is because of the dimensions of their heart.
Love assigns value to the one being loved
We assign value to the things that are important to us. The very fact you are here today says: This service has value for me. I think it is more important for me to be here than anywhere else right now – assigned value by coming.
When Jesus saw this woman, saw her actions, read her heart; he saw her as a prized individual made in the image of God but marred by life. He saw a person worth redeeming – an individual with the potential to live a productive life.
In fact he saw her like he sees us: a person worth dying for. When we give attention to people; listen to their story; when you pray for them; when you include them in your conversations you are saying to them: you are important – you are valuable – worth my time – you are loved.
Love is a gift that flows from God through us to others
We know that God loves us – a basic fact of Christianity. But what if we simply keep all of that love and refuse to share it with others? In that case Christianity becomes a self centered religion. Thank you for loving me – now love me some more.
God bestows this love upon us for a reason so that we can love others with the same love with which he has loved us. Love is one of those unique commodities that the more we give away the more we have.
Without love all else is useless.
I Cor. 13: 1-3
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Speak eloquently and have not love you are a preacher and not a pastor
Know the Bible inside out and have not love you are a scholar and not a servant
If you have great faith but have not love it is meaningless.
Love fills us with gratitude.
Story of Eddie Rickenbacker
Friday night – bucket of shrimp to feed the seagulls – old codger feeding the birds WWI flying ace of 26 missions – fast eddie -4 times raced in the Indy 500 –founders of Eastern Airlines - Oct. 1942 on a B-17 in the Pacific –lost – due to faulty instruments – ditched – with 7 member crew –food supply ran out after 3 days – on the 8th day – held a devotional service – seagull landed on his head – captured – 8 him but used intestines for bait – caught fish – cycle continue for 24 days until rescued.
Saw seagull he never stopped saying thank you – when we recognize what Jesus has done for us we never stop saying thank you.