Jesus said that prostitutes were among those who listened to the words of John the Baptist and repented. And did you know that Jesus shocked the crowd when he said to the religious leaders, prostitutes and tax collectors are going to get into the kingdom of heaven before you. There are many people in the world who have been overlooked or even rejected.
Criminals, addicts, the homeless, homosexuals and prostitutes. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares a beautiful reminder with you about how God's love abounds for all people. Then at the end of today's program, Skip and his wife Lenya share how you can keep God's love flowing through you so it reaches others. God's forgiveness to us is what enables God's forgiveness by us. We can extend God's forgiveness. We can be a conduit of love and forgiveness to others. And when we forgive, it cleanses us. It cleans the lens through which we view people and which we view life.
Thank you, Skip. If you want to hear more, please stay tuned after the teaching. Now we want to tell you about a great resource that will help you know God's love more intimately. People everywhere have a deep God-given need to be loved. But sadly, sometimes the people who need love the most are the most rejected.
Here's Skip Heitzig. We all crave love. We will do sometimes almost anything to get it, to know that we are loved by somebody else unconditionally. No one did that better than Jesus. He loved the worst of sinners. He loved the best of saints. Jesus showed the love of God in human flesh. We want to give you a glimpse of God's relentless love for all people, including you, by sending you the Jesus Loves People four-booklet collection by Skip Heitzig. All four Jesus Loves People titles, including Jesus Loves the Broken, are our thanks for your gift of $25 or more today to help connect more people to God's love through His Word.
Visit connectwithskip.com slash offer to give online securely or call 800-922-1888. Okay, we're in Luke chapter seven as Skip Heitzig starts today's study. Will Rogers said, everyone is ignorant only on different subjects.
And so I plead ignorance. There's been so many topics in this Jesus Loves People series that I have frankly been ignorant of before I taught them in the scripture and did research on different lifestyles. And, and this would be one of those Jesus loves prostitutes. I have never met one that I know I may have witnessed to one on a street or I may have met someone who claimed to be one at one time.
But I've had to do research by interviews, by TV documentaries, et cetera. I know the Bible talks about prostitution. And did you know that 76 times it speaks about a harlot or harlotry. It speaks about prostitution. It is condemned in the scripture.
It is immoral. Book of Leviticus chapter 19, the book of Proverbs in several places and the writings of Paul, first Corinthians chapter six, all condemn prostitution or getting involved with the prostitute. But did you also know that Jesus said that prostitutes were among those who listened to the words of John the Baptist and repented. And did you know that Jesus shocked the crowd when he said to the religious leaders, prostitutes and tax collectors are going to get into the kingdom of heaven before you.
How's that for a sermon opener? And did you know that two prostitutes are actually in the genealogy of Christ? Tamar in the Old Testament, who seduced her father-in-law, acting as a prostitute. And Rahab, that infamous harlot from the city of Jericho, who hid the two spies. In fact, she is named as an example of faith in Hebrews chapter 11.
Imagine that, a prostitute. But beyond some historical and biblical examples, I have to plead ignorant. I have to plead ignorant. And because of that, I've done some research, a little bit of it, I've dug around and what I have found honestly broke my heart.
Let me explain what I mean. First of all, prostitution, the sex trade is a huge money-making enterprise. I won't bore you with all the statistics nationwide, but let me just give you one city. The city of Miami, now it's not even the highest. In that city alone, it is a $235 million per year industry. Atlanta ranks higher and there are several other cities that rank up there.
That's just one town. Studies show that 10% of American men buy sex. It's one out of every 10. And that accords with the international statistics that one in 10 men in the world have purchased a prostitute.
But here's what broke my heart. Do you know what the average age is for a girl to get involved? Between age 12 and age 14.
The mean age is 13 years old. How? You say how?
How does that happen? Well, they're enticed. They're lured into it.
Do you know that there is an incredibly organized and powerful network of people out there that use social media to attract? And here's what they know. They know that one out of every 10 kids aged 10 to 18 is going to run away from home.
They will. They know that. They know that most of them are girls and they know that runaway girls are very vulnerable. They need things to eat. They need food. They need places to stay.
Within 48 hours of that child running away from home, they will be approached by someone to lure them into this lifestyle. It's also one of the deadliest professions in the world. Let me explain. There is a mortality rate for occupations.
I think you know this. And the way they judge it is they take 100,000 people and they find out how many people die because of doing that job. So the average American worker mortality rate is 3.5 people in 100,000 people.
That's the average. But there are certain professions that are riskier. For example, for police officers, it goes from 3.5 to 18.0.
It's a riskier profession. For aircraft pilots, it shoots all the way up to 70, 70.6. For deep-sea fishermen, interestingly enough, it's 75.0. For prostitutes, it's 204.
Why? 95% of them are threatened with a gun in their face. They are beaten.
Over half of them will be assaulted or raped. So all of that to say, before you and I harshly judge the lifestyle that is immoral, granted that, we need to understand how they were introduced to it, when they got into it, and what is threatening them in the current state that they are in. Well, in our story in Luke chapter 7, it's very interesting actually. It's Jesus Christ and a prostitute in the home of a Pharisee. Talk about tension.
All right, talk about a tense meal and it is a mealtime setting. The Pharisee named Simon, we'll discover, and the prostitute are drawn together by a mutual attraction, not to one another, but to the compelling person of Jesus Christ. Both of them are interested in Jesus. And I just got to say that it's stories like this that just make me love Jesus all the more. The way he handles her and the way he handles this Pharisee.
So we're going to work our way through the passage and then we're going to make some application as we close. Interestingly, the story beginning in verse 36, by the way, down to verse 50, it's 15 verses, 15 verses, and it naturally falls into three episodes. There are three encounters with three people. And the first episode is the Pharisee, let's call him the patriarch because he is known as a sage. He is a male leader in the Jewish community. So we have the patriarch and the prostitute.
Let's read it. Verse 36. Then one of the Pharisees asked him, Jesus, to eat with him. And he went to the Pharisee's house and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil and stood at his feet behind him weeping. And she began to wash his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.
And she kissed his feet and anointed them with fragrant oil. Now, frankly, we don't know why Jesus was invited to Simon the Pharisee's house. We could guess. Some believe it was out of sheer curiosity. He's just so amazed at what Jesus said and he just wants to hear more. I don't believe that, even though that is a possibility.
You'll see why in a moment. The other idea is that perhaps Simon, like a lot of people, would love to have sort of a feather in his cap. It's always nice to invite important people, up and coming popular people to your place. See, you've got conversation the next day. Guess who I had for dinner last night?
A possibility, but I doubt that. I think I know the reason why. Let me explain to you why. Simon invited Jesus, not because he loved Jesus, but he wanted to watch him. He didn't like Jesus. He wanted to trap him. He wanted to investigate him further.
Now, why would I say that? Because if we look at the broader context of the story, just one chapter before, just several verses before this, we are told these words. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Jesus closely so they might find an accusation against him. That's why he's there. This Pharisee invites Jesus to observe him, to interrogate him, to entrap him. And you'll see further evidence of that as we go on. So Jesus comes and he literally reclines.
Remember the triclinium? They would recline for a leisurely meal. And as the meal begins, suddenly the center of gravity of this scene shifts dramatically as a woman, a woman of the night comes in and interrupts and stands behind Jesus at his feet because he's reclining and just breaks down. She has an emotional breakdown. Tears of shame, tears of remorse, tears of regret.
What Martin Luther called heart water sprung out and dripped all over Jesus' feet. Question, why did she come? She wasn't invited.
Why is she here? Well, first of all, let me back up and say it was not unusual to have other people, uninvited people at dinners like this. In those days there were people who were invited to dinner.
The dignitaries, they would eat inside in the invited room. But there was a courtyard in houses like this. And anybody could come. It was sort of like ancient entertainment to hear what the rabbi says or the speaker says or what the latest gossip is. So people would come from the community.
It was not unusual to have a lot of people even in the perimeter of the room. But it was unusual to have this woman here. Because the text says she is a sinner. And when you give a female in that ancient culture the title of a sinner, it only means one thing. To be a notorious sinner as a woman, she was a prostitute. And that is why the New Living Translation actually translates it, a certain immoral woman came. Now, you couldn't get two more different people in one room than Simon the Pharisee and this unnamed prostitute. The sage, the street walker. The Pharisee, the floozy. The patriarch, the paramour, the prostitute, the man of high reputation and the woman of ill repute.
Something else. According to the Talmud, for a woman to let her hair down in front of another man was grounds for divorce by her husband. That probably wasn't an issue for her. We could presume that she didn't have a husband.
But nonetheless, it was regarded as highly immoral. And on top of that, for Jesus to be touched by this woman like this, the Pharisee would have seen that as a sexual advance. So why did she come? Well, she came because Jesus was there. She must have heard about who he was. She must have even heard sermons by him, must have heard him preach.
They may have even met and spoke before this. It's interesting, if you were to harmonize the gospels, do you know what that means? It means if you were to give a chronological account of all the events in all four gospel records, you would discover that just before this dinner, Jesus gave a message in which he preached these words. Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls. I'm sure that woman was on the perimeter of the crowd when those words were spoken, and she must have instantly thought, if I am ever going to find love and forgiveness and hope, it's going to be from that man.
And so she found that Jesus was in town, and she found that Jesus was at this house, and she barged in in the middle of the supper and had this emotional breakdown. She wanted real love. One prostitute admitted this, I don't know what real love is. I don't know what it looks like. I don't know what it feels like.
I don't know what it acts like. The only kind of love I ever had is the one way kind, the kind that's paid for in goods and services and evaporates like the dew in the morning or explodes into violence in the middle of the night. I don't know what it's like to love and be loved. So we really don't know the depth of pain and remorse this woman in our story was experiencing. We don't know when she got involved in prostitution. We don't know why she got involved in prostitution. Did she come into it when she was very young? Did her husband die or leave her bereft, penniless, maybe having to raise kids? Some of the research I've done for women who enter the work of a prostitute later on, they will frankly say even though it's still wrong and immoral, I did it to feed my family, to make ends meet. We don't know why.
We're not told. One anonymous prostitute said prostitutes have very improperly been styled women of pleasure. She says they're not women of pleasure. We are women of pain, of sorrow, of grief, and of bitter and continual repentance. So she rushes in. She barges in. There's an air of desperation in her approach.
She doesn't care about decorum, doesn't care about protocol, rushes in, has this breakdown, tears of remorse, tears of pain, tears of hope, all at the same time. Now the camera moves from the first scene to the second scene, from the patriarch and the prostitute to the patriarch and the preacher, the invited preacher, Jesus. Because look at verse 39. Now when the Pharisee who invited Jesus saw this, he spoke to himself. He didn't say it out loud. He's just thinking these thoughts in his head. He's saying this man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is, who is touching him, for she is a sinner. Those are his thoughts.
Nobody knows those thoughts, he thought. Jesus answered and said to him, did you get that? Jesus answered what? Jesus answered his thoughts. It's ironic really because he's thinking, this guy can't be a prophet because prophets know stuff we don't know and he didn't even know who she is. And Jesus knew he thought that. So he answers his thoughts. And said, Simon, I have something to say to you.
So he said, teacher, say it. There was a creditor, a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, the other 50. When they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.
Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more? Simon answered and said, I suppose the one whom he forgave more. And he said to him, you have rightly judged.
And he turned to the woman and said to Simon, do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet. She washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss. This woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint my head. You gave me no kiss. This woman has not refused to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven. For she loved much, but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.
Crawl into Simon's head for a moment. I know who this woman is. Obviously, Jesus does not. I know her reputation. Evidently, Jesus does not.
Now, here's what I want you to see. Simon, the Pharisee, mistook an act of devotion, an act of worship, and an act of repentance for a sexual advance. The word used for she's touching him is a strong word of sensual, sexual touch to lure somebody into an affair. She mistook a woman's act of devotion for a sexual advance. You know, you have to be very cold-hearted to think that way.
You say, it's an easy mistake. No, it's not, because she's crying. She's weeping. She's pouring out tears. That's not going to attract anybody.
That's what I want you to see. You've got to understand that Simon, the Pharisee, had a wrong estimation of everyone in that room. He had a wrong estimation of Jesus. He said, he's no prophet.
Duh. He's the prophet. He had a wrong estimation of the woman. She doesn't belong here with him.
It's exactly where she belongs. And he had a wrong estimation of himself. I think he was thinking thoughts like, well, I wish others could be as discerning as I am. And what you need to see is this. When you view life through the lens of legalism, everyone you see is distorted.
Everyone and everything is distorted through that lens. So, after Simon plays pin the tail on the sinner in his mind, Jesus speaks up. Simon, I want to say something. Simon's thinking, finally, good. You know, you ought to defend yourself for letting this happen.
You need to rebuke her. That's what he's thinking. Interestingly enough, the word Simon, the name Simon, Shimon in Hebrew, means one who hears. One who hears. He's about to get an earful from Jesus. And Jesus tells them the story that we read.
And this is what is amazing. Because we don't get the full story of what happened until Jesus talks. And when Jesus talks, now we get the full picture. That's Skip Heitzing with a message from the series, Jesus Loves People. Now let's head into the studio with Skip and Lenya as they share how you can keep God's love flowing through you so it reaches others. As you mentioned in today's teaching, legalism can distort our view of people to the point where we no longer see them through a lens of love.
Skip, what steps can we take if we realize that we've become hard-hearted and we're not showing love and compassion to those around us? I think this is the reason Jesus did teach us in the Lord's Prayer, we call it. When he said, forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are our debtors or trespassed against us. So, God's forgiveness to us is what enables God's forgiveness by us. We can extend God's forgiveness. We can be a conduit of love and forgiveness to others. And when we forgive, it cleanses us.
It cleans the lens through which we view people and which we view life. Now, think of it this way. What if Jesus were legalistic toward you? What would that look like?
Well, we'd all be in hell, first of all, and there'd be no hope for the world. So, aren't you glad that God cut you some slack and Jesus extends His grace to you? Thanks, Skip and Lenya. Our heart is to connect listeners like you with God's truth so you can stand on the unshakable foundation of His Word. That's why we've made these Bible teachings available to you on the air and online. If you've been encouraged to build your life on God's Word, please consider giving a gift today to help even more people experience that same blessing. Just call 800-922-1888. That's 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Tune in again tomorrow as Skip Hyten gives you a humbling look at just how far God's love and forgiveness goes. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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