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Author:Rev. W.B. Slomp
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Congregation:Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church
 Edmonton, Alberta
 www.edmontonimmanuel.ca
 
Title:Open Your Eyes When Dealing with Your Own Sin and the Sin of Others.
Text:LD 51 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Forgiveness of Sins
 
Preached:2010-01-17
Added:2010-01-30
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Sing:  Psalm 103:1, 4

Hymn 1B

Sing: Psalm 107: 1

Read: Luke 7:36-50

Sing: Psalm 107:5, 6, 8

Text:  Lord’s Day 51

Sing: Psalm 139: 10, 13

Sing: Hymn 11:1, 2, 3

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Saviour Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters,

 

"Simon, do you see this woman?" That's the question the Lord Jesus asks in Luke 7:44. Why does he ask it? It seems like a funny question. It was clear that Simon did see her. That is evident from the account that we just read. She came into Simon's house uninvited while they were eating. Simon the Pharisee was quite perturbed. He did not like that intrusion at all. He was also irritated with the Lord Jesus for not telling her off and for not right away getting rid of that woman. She had no reason to be there. She was disruptive and, to make matters even worse, she was also a woman of ill repute. She was well known in the town where Simon lived and she had a bad reputation. It could be that she was a well-known prostitute. It could also be that she was a common thief. The text does not tell us exactly what the sinful life was that she led in that town. Whatever it was, Simon knew all about this woman. As far as Simon was concerned the Lord Jesus should be more observant. He is the one who should realize whom he is dealing with.

 

The Lord Jesus fully understands that Simon is keenly aware of the woman's presence. Indeed, all eyes are on her as she enters the house and stands behind the Lord Jesus. Everyone is staring at her and painfully aware of her unwelcome presence. Why does the Lord Jesus now say to Simon that he must see this woman? What exactly does the Lord Jesus expect from Simon?

 

Well, the Lord Jesus wants Simon to look at her much differently than he is doing now. He does not want him to see her the way everybody else sees her: as a reject, an embarrassment, someone the world would be better off without, a hopeless sinner. No, Jesus wants Simon to see the woman for who she truly is. He wants him to see that woman from a completely different light. He has to open his eyes, and see her not in her relationship to man but in her relationship to God. He wants him to see her through the eyes of God.

 

The problem is in order to be able to do that, you have to see yourself in a different light first. You have to first see your own sins. You have to see yourself through the eyes of God. And that's what the Lord God wants each and every one of us to do as well. That is the message of this afternoon.  

Open Your Eyes When Dealing with Your Own Sin and the Sin of Others.

Look carefully:

1. At others;

2. At yourself;

3. At the Lord Jesus.

 

The passage that we read together does not tell us why Simon the Pharisee invited the Lord Jesus to have dinner with him. It is clear that he did not do that because he wanted to honour him, or because he was favourably inclined to him, for he did not treat him in the way that you would normally treat a guest. It was the custom in those days that when you were invited to someone's home that then one of the servants would wash your feet, or at the very least, that he would make water available for the guest's feet. For your feet would be caked with dirt and dust after walking in sandals on the dusty roads. After the washing of the feet, the host would normally welcome each guest and greet him with a kiss to make him feel welcome and to let him know that he was an honoured guest. It was also a matter of courtesy to anoint the guest's head with some olive oil. No one is sure exactly why this was done, but it was probably done to give some relief because of the hot oriental sun. It was a courtesy.

 

Simon did not do any of these things for the Lord Jesus. He was not interested in honoring him. He only was curious. He wanted to find out more about the man Jesus. Simon was a Pharisee. As such, he belonged to a privileged and highly regarded class of people. Pharisees were well educated and were in a position of leadership and authority. Even the Romans in many ways deferred to them. For it was the Romans' way to give certain freedoms to each country they subjugated. As much as possible they wanted them to retain their own customs and even their own religion. That was a wise policy as there would be less turmoil in those countries that they ruled. And so Pharisees were held in high regard by all. They were in a class by themselves.

 

They also saw themselves as deserving of being so highly regarded. After all, they are the epitome of piety. As learned men they knew the Scriptures thoroughly and kept the laws meticulously. They considered themselves to be examples of propriety, discernment and wisdom. For that reason they did not associate on the same level with others they considered inferior to them. They certainly did not associate with sinful women.

 

And so it was a shock for this sinful woman to do what she did. She entered Simon's house uninvited. That in itself was not unusual. From what we know about the customs of those days persons could enter a home in which a dinner was given. They would not seat themselves among the invited guests but along the wall. From there they could observe everything and they could even engage in conversation with the people present. But it was unusual that this woman entered the home of a strict Pharisee. Pharisees were quite condescending to women and especially to women with a bad reputation. They did not make such people feel welcome or appreciated. They shunned them and stayed away from them.

 

Nevertheless, she entered his home and even found the courage to go up to the Lord Jesus and stand at Jesus' feet. Now you have to picture this. In those days people did not sit on a chair like we do today. No, they would be reclining on low couches arranged around the low table. Each person would face the table, lying slantwise, with the feet stretched out behind them. You would lean on your left arm so that you could have your right hand free to handle the food. And so the woman would be standing behind the Lord Jesus who was reclining at the table, that is, she would be behind his extended feet.

 

Then something remarkable happens. As she stands behind him she is overwhelmed with emotion and begins to weep. Luther says that the tears were “heart water”. In other words, these were not crocodile tears, but genuine tears. These are tears that welled up from the inside, from her heart. The tears drip onto the feet of the Lord Jesus. She did not expect to have that kind of emotional outburst at that time. She did not want this to happen. But she could not help herself. And when she sees what she has done, she loosens her hair and with it wipes the feet of the Lord Jesus clean. Then she even pours perfume on his feet. The perfume that she uses is very expensive. It is much more expensive than olive oil. She had taken that expensive perfume along because she had intended to anoint the head of the Lord Jesus. It was her way of showing her thankfulness to him. And then she kisses his feet, not just once but repeatedly. The Lord Jesus allows her to do that.

 

This is too much for Simon. He does not voice his objections out loud. No, he keeps his thoughts to himself thinking that if the Lord Jesus really knew who this woman was that then he would not have allowed her to touch him. He thinks, "How can this man call himself a prophet? A true prophet would've known better."

 

However, the Lord Jesus knows exactly what he is thinking. And thereby he also proves himself to be a prophet except Simon is too blind to realize this. But in order to open the eyes of this Pharisee, he tells him a parable. He tells him the story about two men who owed money to a certain moneylender. The one owed 500 denarii and the other 50. Both amounts are quite large. A denarius represented about a day's wages. However, the one owed 10 times as much as the other. The Lord Jesus says that neither one of them had money to pay him back so the moneylender canceled the debt of both. Then he asks Simon, "Whom do you think loved the benefactor the most? Who would be the most thankful?" Simon knows what answer he is expected to give, for it is obvious. It would be the one who had the greatest debt forgiven.

 

Now the Lord Jesus has him exactly where he wants him. Therefore now he says to him, "Do you see this woman?" Up to this point, all that Simon saw was a sinful woman. He saw her in accordance with the reputation that she had. He saw her as someone who is totally inferior to him. He saw her as an intruder, as a worthless human being.

 

But that is not how the Lord Jesus saw her. On the contrary. He says in verse 47 that this woman is someone whose sins have been forgiven. Therefore she is someone who is acceptable in the sight of God. And he wants Simon to see her in the same way. He wants Simon to go outside of himself. He does not want him to think about the reputation that she previously had, or about what the other Pharisees think about her. No, he wants Simon to see the woman for who she truly is. She stood there weeping. Why would that be, Simon? Think about it. Look further. Those tears well up from her heart. They well up because she realizes what a sinful woman she was. Oh yes, her sins were many, but all of her sins have been forgiven. "That is why she wept, Simon. You, Simon, think that your sins are few and that your good works outweigh your bad works. And therefore there is no great need for you to have the forgiveness of sins. Think again. You too need the forgiveness of sins."

 

Brothers and sisters, and that includes you boys and girls, how often do we not look at people in the way that Simon the Pharisee does? We look at certain people in the church, as well as outside of the church, and we remember them by their reputation. We remember the kinds of things that they have done in the past. And we keep on judging them for it. We see them as inferior. Or we see people who socially do not function as well as others. They have difficulty sometimes keeping their emotions in check in public. They become easily angry or they pout, and they say and do unwise and sometimes rude things that make others uncomfortable. Or we see people who have difficulties in their family life and who have all kinds of personal difficulties. And we judge them as inferior. It can even be that we do that within our own families.

 

But think to yourself, "What does the Lord Jesus see? Does he judge in the same way?" He doesn't, does he?

 

There are reasons why people do certain things and act in a certain way. Often it is because of experiences in the past, especially during childhood. They had been damaged. They feel themselves that they are damaged goods. They feel the judgment that they receive from others. And it grieves them. They don't know what to do about it. They don't know how to change their behaviour. They are full of guilt. Often they also feel that God is angry with them because of their sins.

 

No doubt, that is the way it was with that woman who entered Simon's house. At some time the Lord Jesus had contact with this woman before. And he had told her that her sins have been forgiven. That took a tremendous weight from off her shoulders. She no longer felt divine disapproval. She no longer felt that God was angry with her. The Lord Jesus, by telling her that her sins have been forgiven, puts her into a new relationship with God. No wonder that she was so joyful.

 

The catechism says that we must see the evidence of God's "grace in us that we are fully determined wholeheartedly to forgive our neighbour." When you forgive others their sins that means that you no longer look upon them because of their sins. That means that you no longer act in accordance with the person's reputation. When you forgive someone their sins, then you do not do that just once, or twice, no you do that, 7 x 70 times. In other words, there is no end to it.

 

Brothers and sisters, look carefully at other people. Boys and girls, I also want you to think about this. Perhaps there's someone in your class who is a bit different. They're not as nice maybe as some of the other kids. They draw attention to themselves and sometimes make a nuisance of themselves. How do you treat them? Like rejects? But ask yourself, is that what the Lord Jesus wants you to do as well? Think about how he treated those who are different. He treated them with kindness and love. He did not look at them because of their sins, but because of the relationship that he has established with them. That is also how we should look at each other.

 

2. However, the only way that you can do that is if you first have a close look at yourself.
After the sermon we will sing together from Psalm 139: 13, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; See if I from Thy ways depart." That sinful woman in the passage had been keenly aware of her sinful state. She allowed God to search her heart and she saw the way she departed from the ways of God. And she knew what other people said about her and thought about her. These things grieved her. How can I be so sure of that? Well, otherwise she would not have reacted to the Lord Jesus in the way that she did. Otherwise she would not have had the audacity to go up to him in the midst of high society and to weep her eyes out in front of them because of the way that she felt concerning what the Lord Jesus had done for her. For the Lord Jesus had told her that all her sins are forgiven. At that point the weight of her sins was lifted from her shoulders and now she is full of joy. She is tremendously relieved. She is unspeakably thankful.

 

Is that how you feel? The catechism says that if we pray for forgiveness of our sins, that then we pray to the Lord our God that "for the sake of Christ's blood none of our transgressions be imputed to us wretched sinners." The only way that you can pray such a petition is if you have some sense of your own sinfulness; if you have some sense of how you sin against God every day, indeed every moment of each day; if you have some sense of how you wrong others, in your attitude, in the way that you treat them, in the way that you think about them. You have to have some sense of the great debt that you owe God. And the more you realize the great debt you owe, the more thankful you will be. And the more you will love the one who has canceled your debts, who has forgiven you your sins. In other words, the more that you will love the Lord Jesus.

 

Simon the Pharisee did not have the sense of his own sins. He saw himself as an upstanding citizen of God's kingdom. He thought that God was lucky to have him as one of his servants. "Look at how good I am, oh God." And that is why he judged others as severely as he did. He was arrogant.

 

Sometimes people leave our church because of the sinful people that they find here. They go to a church where they are more appreciated. To a church where good works are emphasized. That's where they feel more comfortable. It is man's tendency to elevate himself and to lower others. That is your and my tendency as well. But we may not give in to that. Our confessions, which are based on the Bible, do not allow us to do that either. The catechism is a very personal confession. It speaks about us as wretched sinners, and about our transgressions, and about the evil which still clings to us. Look at yourself first. Take out the beam from your own eye first, before you take out the splinter of your neighbour's eye. Only then will you be able to forgive the sins of others.

 

3. Brothers and sisters, to forgive is not easy. And therefore we do not just have to look at ourselves, but we have to look at the Lord Jesus, at what he has done. We come to the third point. There are those who have really hurt us, and sometimes they continue to do that. It is difficult to forgive them. And yet, that is what God requires. For note well that the Lord Jesus ties the forgiveness of our sins to the forgiveness that we extend to others. Those two have to go hand in hand. Unless we forgive those who have harmed us, who have sinned against us, God will not forgive us.

 

There are those who have difficulty with this. They look at the damage that is done. They look at the great pain that has been inflicted. And so they think that forgiveness does not take the harm of sin seriously.

 

The forgiveness of sins, however, does take sin very seriously. The forgiveness of sins is never meant to excuse the sinner. It doesn't say, "It is all right for you to have hurt me and to do what you do against me." No, forgiveness calls sin, sin. And it holds the sinner accountable for his actions. That is what the Lord God did with regard to our sins. He took them very seriously. He did not just pass them over. No, he made sure that the penalty was paid. It is true that that penalty was paid by the Lord Jesus. And it did not come cheap. He had to give his life. He had to shed his blood. He had to suffer the agony of hell, by being forsaken by God.

 

But, don't think that now we are scot-free. Oh sure, the Lord Jesus forgives us our sins through faith. And that is why he says also to the woman that her faith has saved her. She believed in the Lord Jesus. It is through her faith that she is put in a restored relationship with God. But that doesn't mean that now she can keep on sinning. God's grace is not cheap. No, the fact that her sins are forgiven means that she has to continue to take her sins seriously. It means that she has to count the cost.

 

The same thing is true for you and for me. The Lord forgives us our sins, but not so that we can keep on sinning. No, we have to realize how seriously God takes our sins. Note well that in our passage in verse 37 Luke says that the woman had lived a sinful life. He uses the past tense. That is the way she was, but that is not the way she is any longer. She has repented from her sins. That doesn't mean that she doesn't sin anymore. But it means that she wants to live her life out of grace. That means that now she will do her utmost no longer to go back to her old lifestyle. She is a changed person. She has a different focus in her life. There is evidence of God's grace in her. And no doubt that evidence will also show in the way that she now treats her neighbor. Not judgmentally as the Pharisees do, but in compassion and love.

 

Brothers and sisters, that is also what God wants from you and from me. He has forgiven our sins. He has done that in spite of the fact that we sin against him all the time. And now we also have to forgive others. And if you know of yourself how sinful you are, then that is not really all that hard. For then the Lord God has opened your eyes to the truth; to the truth of who you really are and how others truly are, and how they stand in relationship to the Lord our God. Focus your lives on the Lord Jesus and what he has done for you. Then you will be joyful and thankful. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.edmontonimmanuel.ca

(c) Copyright 2010, Rev. W.B. Slomp

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