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The One with the Pharisee, Prostitute, and Jesus

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2022 9:00 am

The One with the Pharisee, Prostitute, and Jesus

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 11, 2022 9:00 am

As we continue our “In Step” series through the book of Luke, Pastor J.D. teaches about the scandal of grace.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. The Gospel message is that if you will expose your sin to Jesus, if you will just expose it in all its ugliness and all its messed up-ness and dysfunctionality, if you will just expose it, He will receive and forgive you.

If you keep it covered, you're on your own. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, the topic of grace offends a lot of people, and interestingly, it's often religious people. As we continue our in-step teaching series through the book of Luke, Pastor J.D. educates us today about the scandal of grace. You know, we are hardwired to think that our worth is a result of what we do. If we do good things, we get good rewards.

Do bad things, get bad consequences. And in many ways that is true, but God's grace seems like it throws this whole system aside. And thank God it does because without the scandal of grace, none of us would have any hope apart from Jesus. So turn with me to Luke chapter 7 for a familiar message that Pastor J.D. titled The One with the Pharisee, the Prostitute, and Jesus. Well, listen, Joby Martin, whom some of you know that name, is one of our favorite guest preachers here at the Summit Church. He tells a story about the early days of his ministry. Joby was a youth pastor at a church in North Myrtle Beach, but because the church could not pay him full time, he took a second job working at a gym right there on the strip there in North Myrtle Beach. He said the gym owner was a pretty smart guy, and so he walked right across the street to the Crazy Horse Gentlemen's Club and offered all the ladies that worked there a free membership to his gym. He said all of a sudden, all the men in the North Myrtle Beach area started coming to his gym to work out.

Joby said that when business was slow, because he worked there at the gym, he would do some of his sermon prep in the smoothie-making gym, and he would do some of his sermon prep in the smoothie-making area. He said, so I got to know some of these women. He said, I learned that they had names.

He said, their real names were not Bambi and Cinema, names like Carla and Sharon. I learned that they all, he said, I had a few things in common. He said, at least the majority of them, maybe not every single one, but they all had a few things in common. He said, first, none of them wanted to have the job that they currently had. He said, most of them had taken the job thinking they would do it only for a short time in order to get out of some financial crisis issue that they were dealing with, and then they planned to leave. He said, for most of these ladies, those financial issues had something to do with being abandoned by a man. He said, most had kids, and they didn't want their kids to know how mommy made money.

He said, all of them, he said, had to drink or take some substance before they performed. Joby said he invited one of these ladies to come to church with him one weekend. He said it was pretty obvious, just by the way that she was dressed, who she was, or at least what kind of work that she was in. He said that when she came in and sat down with him, a lot of people in this small little Baptist church that he was youth pastor at were whispering and kind of pointing her direction. He said, at the end of the service, one of the deacons asked to speak to me in the pastor's office. And he said, when I got there, we were joined by the pastor and a couple of other deacons.

The deacon explained that the purpose of the church was to protect its members, and especially their children from women like that. Joby said that when he walked back to the car, he said, she was sitting inside the car crying. He said, I tried to lie and tell her that the discussion wasn't about her, but she wasn't stupid.

He said, she knew that the meeting had been about her. And he made this statement. He said, how was it not heartbreaking that a woman like that feels the most degraded when she walks into a church and that she feels more love and acceptance dancing in front of drunken men on vacation than she does in a place that bears Jesus's name? And by the way, let me just say, if that's you today, let me briefly pause just to say two things. First, I am deeply sorry that you have been treated that way by people in the church. That is wrong. And Jesus is quite the opposite of that.

Second, I hope today to demonstrate to you that we don't feel that way about you either. Years ago, Philip Yancey wrote a book called, What's So Amazing About Grace, in which he explains what a lot of us know all too well. And that is a lot of our churches have been very poor stewards of grace. I read that book right after college. I graduated from a Christian school where everything was all about dressing right and talking right and listening to the right style of music, where the length of your hair and the translation of the Bible that you used were more important than what was going on in your heart. And where people often got defined by their mistakes and reduced to labels, divorced, drunk, pregnant before marriage.

That created a community that was a part of that school that looked great on the outside, but was filled with a lot of brokenness where people hid on the inside. And so Yancey's book, What's So Amazing About Grace, really resonated with me. And my guess is that that message probably resonates with a lot of you as well. Many Christians seem totally devoid of the one thing that is supposed to characterize our experience with God. And that is grace. What saves the Christian is grace. What sustains us is grace. What fuels us and motivates us is grace. What secures our future is grace. For it is by grace we have been saved through faith, and not even that is of ourselves.

That's the gift of God, not of works, so that nobody can boast. It is by faith that we have access into this grace now in which we stand. From start to finish, our walk with God is grace. Grace.

Grace that is greater than all our sin. As C.S. Lewis once walked into a room at Cambridge where he was teaching at the time, where a group of his fellow professors were discussing world religions. And he said they had written all the characteristics of world religions down on the chalkboard, and they were trying to show that all these religions basically taught the same thing. And so they saw C.S. Lewis walking by, and they said they always called him Jack. Jack, come in here for a minute, and you're a Christian? Tell us what is it that is in Christianity that's not already in all these other world religions? The story goes that C.S.

Lewis looked at the chalkboard there for about five seconds and said, oh, that's easy. You miss the most essential element of Christianity. That is grace. In every other world religion, acceptance is given because you keep the rules well enough.

It's wages. It is merit. If you do, and you do well enough, you will be accepted by God. But in the gospel that is flipped on its head, its acceptance is given as a gift, as grace. And in response to that, as a response of gratefulness and worship, you obey grace. A real experience with grace is the most transforming power on the planet.

I will say this. Some of you feel like something is missing in your spiritual life. You lack passion. You see other people with their hands up, and they seem to mean it, and you just don't feel that in your heart.

You feel spiritually dry. I want to show you, hopefully today, that losing touch with grace is at the root of all of that. Luke 7, verse 36. This is such a beautiful passage. Charles Spurgeon preached five sermons on this passage. He loved it so much.

I've only got one, so I'm sorry about that. But here we go. Luke 7, verse 36. Then one of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him.

He entered the Pharisee's house, and he reclined at the table. Can I just say real quick, Jesus had this thing about eating with losers. All throughout the Gospel of Luke, you're going to find him in the homes of, let's just call them, unpleasant people. Tax collectors, self-righteous religious hypocrites, prostitutes, people with problems. I point this out because some Christians seem only to want to hang out with people who have it together.

They actually think this is best for their family. Jesus was not like that. Jesus did life with broken and messed up people, and anywhere you look for Jesus, you're going to find that kind of person around him, not the people who have it all together. Verse 37 again. And a woman in the town who was a sinner. By the way, a woman who was a sinner is Bible speak for prostitute. She found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, so she brought an alabaster jar perfume and stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to wash his feet with her tears. She wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume, kissing and anointing his feet.

Aside from just kind of being gross, that was also deeply suggestive. In those days, taking off your veil and letting down your hair was something that a woman did only in her home around her husband. Clearly this woman had not gotten the memo on how to act when the preacher came over for dinner. Well, everybody feels awkward and embarrassed except for Jesus.

He seems quite pleased. And so, verse 39, when the Pharisees who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, well, well, if this man really were a prophet, he would know who this, who and what kind of woman this is and who was touching him. She's a sinner. Jesus replied to him, Simon, I got something to say to you. By the way, there's a little prophetic irony at work here because you see what just happened? Simon just thought to himself, silently in his head, he thought if Jesus were actually a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is and he would send her away. Jesus reads Simon's mind and diagnoses his thoughts and heart, which would be another way of indicating that he was a prophet. So I feel like he answered Simon's question pretty thoroughly there.

Simon said, we'll say a teacher. A creditor had two debtors. One, Jesus says, owed 500 denarii, that's about a year and a half, you know, salary, and the other 50. Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both.

So which of them will love him more? Simon answered, oh, I suppose the one who, who he forgave more seems kind of a begrudging answer, doesn't it? You have judged correctly, Jesus told him.

Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, do you see this woman? I entered your house, yet you gave me no water for my feet, but she with her tears has washed my feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she hasn't stopped kissing my feet since I came in.

You didn't anoint my head with olive oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven. That is why she loved much, but the one who is forgiven little loves little. Then he said to her, your sins are forgiven. Verse 39, those who were at the table with him begin to say among themselves, who is this man who even forgives sins?

By the way, that's a good question. If Jesus is not God, how is he forgiving sins? Sins are committed against God, right? Sins are committed against God, which means that only God can forgive them. If I'm standing next to you and somebody walks up and smacks you in the face and I look over at them and I say, oh, I forgive you. You're going to say, uh, that was my face that got smacked. That means it's my prerogative to forgive and you would be correct.

So see this for what it is. In forgiving sins, Jesus is identifying himself as God and everybody understood that. Verse 50, then he said to the woman, your faith has saved you.

Go in peace. The scandal of grace. Grace confuses and offends religious people because people who have worked hard and kept all the rules don't like it when those who have not worked as hard or broken some of the rules, when they get the same reward that the person who worked hard and kept all the rules gets. Martin Luther, the reformer said, since the fall, our hearts have been hard wired with, we call it a wages mentality. Wages means you do, you get paid. It means that we get what we deserve.

We are worth however well we perform. And so if we do good things, then we get good outcomes. If we do bad things, then we get bad outcomes.

It's karma. So if somebody does bad things and then gets good outcomes, well, that's insulting, but that is the economy of grace. And it is a scandal that we should thank God for because if God did not relate to us by grace, none of us would have any hope. You see, the point of this story is not that this woman is a sinner and Simon just needs to learn to deal with the fact that Jesus loves sinners too. The point is that Simon is a sinner just like this woman. The only difference is that he doesn't realize it. Ironically, she's got a leg up on him because she realizes her sinfulness and he doesn't.

Because of his upbringing or because of his privileged place in society or because of his good education that his parents were able to get for him, he might have learned to cloak his sinfulness better than she has. And he might have learned to kind of harness his behavior into more socially acceptable patterns, but his heart has the same sickness as hers. Think of it like the coronavirus. One of the strange things they say about this disease is how varying the symptoms can be. So some who contracted have only a slightly elevated temperature and a little fatigue.

Others, especially if they are older or they're weaker, they develop serious lung problems and their vital organs start shutting down. But it's the same disease. If a babysitter walks into your house and picks up your baby and says, oh, by the way, I've got coronavirus, but don't worry. Don't worry.

My symptoms are only mild. My guess for you parents is that's not okay. You don't want that disease anywhere near you. God's revulsion against our sinfulness is 10 billion times stronger than the thought of a diseased person holding our baby. In the sight of God, we are all in the same category as this woman. We should thank God that he receives and forgives and embraces sinners because that's all any of us are. The scandal of the gospel is not that not that Jesus loves bad people too. The scandal of the gospel is that Jesus only loves bad people because that's the only kind of people there are. So if you don't think of yourself as a bad person, then you're not a candidate for the love of Jesus.

One of the most important and ironic aspects of Jesus's ministry is that sinners felt safe around him. Look at this woman. She feels totally comfortable around him. You see, what she's doing here is very symbolic. Like I explained to you, this was a symbol of intimacy, something women usually only felt comfortable doing in front of their husbands.

But clearly what she's doing here is not sexual. What she's doing represents an intimacy of soul before God. She is saying to Jesus, you see all of me and accept me just as I am.

And I can let down my hair because I feel safe with you. One of the most ironic and most beautiful aspects of Jesus's life is how safe sinners felt around him. In fact, you could say that the safest place in all the universe for a sinner to be is to be completely exposed in the presence of Jesus. The gospel message is that if you will expose your sin to Jesus, if you will just expose it in all its ugliness and all its messed up-ness and dysfunctionality, if you will just expose it, he will receive and forgive you.

If you keep it covered, you're on your own. This woman symbolically exposes her brokenness of soul to Jesus and all she finds is love and acceptance. Now, Jesus' acceptance of her didn't mean, of course, that he affirmed her lifestyle choices or that he was content to leave her where she was. Her experience of grace changed her. Thank you for taking notes.

Write this down. Grace does not mean accepting or embracing somebody's simple lifestyle. Grace means loving and embracing them despite their lifestyle. I say that because our society teaches us that when it comes to somebody's lifestyle, you've really only got two choices. This is whether you're watching Oprah or Ellen or Bill Maher or anybody.

Here's your categories. You can have affirmation or alienation. You can either affirm that person fully or the other option is you can reject them. But Jesus shows us a third option that is neither affirmation nor alienation. It is speaking truth with grace.

Speaking God's truth to them but not in a way that pushes them away or that shuts off the relationship. One of Jesus' most misunderstood teachings in our day is what he says in Matthew 7. Judge not lest you be not judged. People always assume that that means you should never tell somebody what they're doing is wrong.

Or if you do, if you do, they're going to say, well, who are you to judge? This is the one verse in the Bible that Bill Maher seems to know. But is that really what Jesus meant? Is what he meant don't tell other people they're wrong?

I mean, think about it. Didn't Jesus spend an entire lifetime pointing out people's wrongness? Wrongness in what they think, wrongness in what they believe, wrongness in what they're doing?

And so did the apostles. So not judging somebody can't mean not speaking the truth to them. No, judging them is what you do after you speak the truth to them. After you speak the truth to them, do you cast them away or do you draw them close? You see, judging means pushing somebody away, condemning them, and shutting them off.

And that condemnation just means I'm breaking the relationship because you're bad. You see, even when Jesus spoke truth to people, he drew them near. He radiated acceptance and love. Jesus said in the Gospel of John that he was not sent into the world to condemn the world but to save it. In John 12, he said that while he was on earth, he would not judge anybody.

Now one day, one day he'll come back as the judge, but during his time on earth, he wouldn't do it because he'd been sent out only to extend the acceptance of salvation to all who would receive it. And of course, that's true of us too for our time on earth. That means no matter what somebody has done, it means no matter what they've done until their dying breath, we extend God's acceptance and embrace to them and we model that.

That is our only posture toward the world. That is the scandal of grace. That is the heart of the Gospel. And see, that scandal produces three things in us. Three things that religion by itself, with all of its laws and all of its commands and all of its disciplines, can never produce. I don't care how intense your religion, how deep or thick your Bible knowledge is, forgiveness and grace are the only things that can produce these three things in your heart.

Number one, white hot worship. Y'all, if this woman demonstrates anything else, it's an uncontrollable passion for Jesus. She weeps over her sin. She adores with tearful thankfulness her salvation.

She pours out a bottle of expensive perfume on his feet. Her love is so strong that she can't seem to even constrain herself. Here's Simon, the Pharisee, for all of his knowledge and all his religion, he didn't have any kind of emotion like that in his heart.

Let me ask you, are you more like Simon, or are you more like her? When was the last time that you wept over your sin and salvation? Hey, if the answer is never, I would just say very humbly that you've got a problem. If the fact that God himself took on for you an eternal hell that you had brought onto yourself, or the fact that he sought you when you were running as fast as you could the other direction, if that's never brought tears to your eyes, then you've got a serious problem. You say, well, I'm just not that emotional of a person.

You don't have to be emotional for that to bring tears to your eyes. You just have to be human with some semblance of understanding. And everybody here, as far as I can tell, is human, which means that if you haven't wept over your salvation, I'm questioning whether or not you actually understand it. Jesus said, those who are forgiven much, which is all of you, love much. So if you're not loving much, it must mean you don't really understand forgiveness. Again, let me be clear.

Let me be very clear. The point is not that this woman needs to be forgiven of a lot, and the Pharisee only a little. No, both are in a great need of forgiveness, because one, the prostitute tried to find security and happiness apart from God, a prostitute, the other, Simon, thought he could win God's approval by showing how much better he was than everybody else. Both rejected God in their own way, and both needed to be forgiven.

Her advantage is that she realizes it, and he doesn't, which is why she loves Jesus passionately, and he doesn't. The scandal of grace is the heart of the gospel. Like Jesus, we must learn to see truth to people without pushing them away. Jesus was able to draw people to himself while lovingly pointing out their sin.

He radiated acceptance and love. You're listening to Pastor J.D. Greer on Summit Life. Tomorrow, we'll conclude this message, but just in case you missed any part of this series titled In Step, you can find every message free of charge at We're committed to equipping you for great commission work and sharing the gospel here on the program.

And the most important training tool we have to do this is not this radio program. It's the Word of God itself. That's why our latest resource is designed specifically to help you know the Bible better. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, our new Rejoice Always Scripture Memory Verse cards make it easy to memorize scripture. We'd like to send you a set of 50 scripture memory cards as a thank you when you support the ministry of Summit Life today.

The cards are made small, similar in size to playing cards for a quick reference. You can put them on the fridge or even stick them in your wallet, pin them to a bulletin board or a mirror for extra encouragement. Scripture cards remind us of God's steadfastness and his unchanging promises now and in the days to come. The Lord calls us to take a step of faith and then another and another.

The only way to walk in step with him is to know him. Going back over the ones you've learned and adding to the number weekly or monthly will ensure that God's word is being stored both in your mind and your heart. Going back over the ones you've learned and adding to the number weekly or monthly will ensure that God's word is being stored both in your mind and your heart. Something we say a lot at the Summit Church is when life cuts us, we want to bleed God's word. That comes from the desire that we be saturated in scripture so much that we can't help but talk about it, share it, and apply it. The word of God is our light. It shows us not only where to go but how to get there and the word alone prepares us to stand up to every challenge we face with courage.

So let me encourage you to prioritize memorizing it this year. We're so grateful for you and your partnership with us as we begin a new year of ministry together. Ask for the Rejoice Always scripture memory cards when you become a gospel partner or when you give a single gift to a gospel partner or when you give a single gift of $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give online at I'm Molly Vidovich inviting you to join us again Wednesday as Pastor JD concludes this message on grace.

When we truly allow the grace of God to amaze us, our lives will look different. Don't miss Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-29 11:42:02 / 2023-06-29 11:52:17 / 10

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