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The Currency of Heaven PDF Print E-mail

Based on Luke 7:36-50

Luk 7:36. “ And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.”


# To set the scene here, lets learn a little about this group called the Pharisees – who they were, what a man had to be to be called a Pharisee, and what they believed and taught.


# The Pharisees originated around 200 years prior to Christ, during the time of the Maccabean revolt again the Greek/Syrian ruler Antichous the 4th. It was during the reign of Antichous the 4th (Antiochus Epiphanes), that the idolatrous Greek influence was at its height in Jerusalem, and devout Jews who were appalled at the widespread acceptance of idolatry in Judea desired to preserve the true worship of God. These Jews congregated together and lived and worshipped according to the book of Moses (the one Moses wrote and placed in the side of the Ark). It was because of their devotion to worshipping differently to the prevailing idolatrous practices that they became known as “perushi” which means “separated” in Hebrew. It is from this Hebrew word that we get our English name Pharisee.


# A Pharisee’s daily life, his every activity, his business, his family, his worship, was entirely guided by the book of Moses, and interpretations of it. There were rules for leaving his house; there were rules for business transactions; there were rules for eating; there were rules for worship activities. There were even rules for travelling and who they could travel with. Every part of a Pharisee’s life was controlled by rules and law. And for what purpose? So he might be pure – obedient to God – separated from unholy and evil influences.


So it was into one of these houses, that Jesus is invited to eat.


Vs. 37. “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment.”


# The woman was from a completely different class. She was a woman “in the city”, of a class who did not give any attention at all to religious matters. The Bible also says, she “was a sinner”, showing that she earned her livelihood as a prostitute, and was well-known as such around the city. She would have been dressed according to her occupation, and in Jewish culture was regarded as the furthest from God, and even from civil and proper society.


# She brings in an alabaster box of ointment. Now the ointment is said to have been very expensive, according to Mark 14:3-5, about 300 pences or a years wages. Now how did she make a living? As a prostitute – selling herself to men for money. So where did she get the money to pay for this box of ointment? Its been bought with sex money. Hmm…surely this would be classed as an "impure" and "unfit" offering!


# And what do you think she had used that perfume for? Remember she was a prostitute, so she would have put the perfume on during her activities with the men. It was from this same bottle that she now desired to anoint Jesus.


Vs. 38. “And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”


# She stands at his feet, and begins to wash them with her hair....


# A few years ago, President Bush was in Iraq, holding his final press conference. Do you remember what happened? As he was speaking, he suddenly ducks as a shoe is thrown at him. Why a shoe? In the Arab world, the worst insult you can give a person is to throw your shoe at them. The feet are regarded as unclean, because of contact with the ground, and in symbology, from contact with the world. And here we have a woman, a sinful, immoral woman, washing feet with her hair! The Pharisee was in overload!


# Her act of letting down her hair was regarded in Jewish culture as a sensual and suggestive act, similar to how we view a woman deliberately showing her breasts. Letting down her hair was something a woman only did in presence of a man on her wedding night.


# So when the woman comes in, the purity and separatist habits of the Pharisee come to the front, and Simon immediately thinks the situation needs an immediate objection.


Vs. 39. “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner."


# Simon viewed Jesus as having the same standards as himself. Simon felt himself an equal with Jesus, from the same group, having the same ideals. Simon felt that because of this, he was superior to the woman who was now weeping and washing Christ’s feet. And Simon felt that, if Jesus were indeed a prophet from God, one of God’s holy ones, then to avoid dangerous temptation and contamination, Jesus should push this woman away, and make it His priority to keep away from her unclean sinfulness.


# But let me ask you something?  Is Jesus a Pharisee? Is God a Pharisee? Is He holy and pure by separation, by attention to law and rules, through refusing to have contact with the common and unholy ones around Him?


# If you answer no, on what then rests the purity and holiness of Jesus? The answer is of vital interest to all followers of Jesus, for it is how they too will be pure and holy?


Now our story introduces Jesus.


Vs. 40. “And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. “


# Jesus has something to say. He says, “Simon, I have somewhat to say to you.” There is more to me that you do not understand, Simon. “ My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways, My ways.” Isa. 55:8,9.


# And Jesus conveys His message in the form of a story.


Vs. 41. “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. “


# Jesus describes two debtors, one representing Simon, who felt that by his attention to right living, owed only fifty pence; the other, the woman, who in Simons eyes, was the more guilty of sinful things, therefore owed 500 pence.


# But here is the curious thing -- NEITHER were able to pay the master.  Simon’s attention to right living did not help him in the least to pay his due to the master. In spite of all his attention to the laws for eating, for traveling, for attending church, for business transactions, for gifts and giving….none of this helped pay what he owed the master. As far as the Master saw things, both Simon and the woman were equal.


# Both had nothing to give the master what he asked of them; neither could improve their position. So what does the Master do?


“And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”


# He frankly forgives them both, CLEARS their debts, and sets them, not as debtors, but as friends before Him, loved and accepted equally.


# And in the next sentence, Christ sets out the foundation for purity and holiness.


Luke 7:42. “Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”   (to verse 43.)


# Which one will love the Master more? The one to whom was forgiven most.


# Why this foundation? Why base acceptance and Christlikeness on a thing of the heart, and not rules and regulations and laws.


# Because this is an act of the Master. This turns the mind to God, and away from the debt and the debtor. God, who is represented in the story by the creditor, by an act of love, changes and transforms us. Purity and holiness of life is an act of God in our life, the showing of GRACE, the showing of God's love. Freedom from debt cannot happen by action or attention to laws and rules. Nothing the debtor did, could satisfy the debt he owed the Creditor.


# Christ wanted to open to Simon, that in his religion, the very ones Simon despised as sinful and contemptible, were the ones who loved God the most. Why? Not because they did more right things…no; but because God’s grace was offered them, and they grasped it the more willingly. God’s grace was open to Simon too, but he didn’t feel as much a need to it. It didn’t have much value in his eyes.


Rom 4:4-5. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”


# There are two lifestyles spoken of here....one of working, attending to requirements ....the other, of gift, of grace. They describe two completely opposing principles.


# The first places you under requirement, compelled to adhere, in order to have the reward. If you slack, or fall, or do not make it, there is no reward. No other outcome is given in this method. It all depends on you.


# The other method however, speaks of gift. It voluntarily transfers something valuable to you, without your aid or toil, all for the simple reason that you are loved!


Romans 11:6. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”


# So what is the conclusion? Despite how well we think we live our lives, when called to reconcile with our Master, we cannot and will not be able to pay. Nothing that we hold up-- our attention to laws of eating, attending church, going out, and coming in, gifts and giving, right living and religious activites-- can pay the Master what we owe. Like the debtors, we can never have anything to pay.


# So why did Jesus bless the prositute woman bowing and weeping at his feet. Because she believed! Believed what? Why, the love that was shown to her. Jesus said to her, "Thy faith hath saved thee. Go in peace." Luke 7:50. But what had the Master done? He frankly forgive them both, cleared their debt, and set them as equals, as friends, accepted before Him. Wow, what love! Such grace! Do we deserve it? No. But deserving is not the qualifier here. God's grace is given to all the world, that whosoever believes, will not perish, but have everlasting life. This is God's way, His CURRENCY, in dealing with the world.


# This is confirmed in one final passage of Scripture:


Gal 4:4-7. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”


# A son is in a different relation to the Father than is a servant. A servant is in the household only because of his service; he is there purely by his work, and his remaining in the household is based on how well he works.  If he fails, or does not work, he is cast out and abandoned. A servant's place in the household is dependent on his actions, and how well he performs.


# But a son is part of the household by birth, from an act of love by the Father. A son naturally receives his Father's character and name. A son is part of the household by the Father’s love, unrelated to his service or performance. His position is dependent on the Father. His place in the household is natural and certain, because of his Father. As a son, he is assured of the inheritance.


# How is it with you? We have all been given bad information regarding our heavenly Father. We have thought for years that we can only be accepted by God as we follow the rules and regulations assigned us. We have felt that we are in the house because of our faithful attention to God's law. But is this the teaching of God's word. Is this what Jesus taught both Simon and the woman? No, we are not in God’s house through our service, by how well we perform the work. We are SONS & DAUGHTERS by an act of love from the Father. This is for us to BELIEVE!


# God says, He sent forth His Son that WE might receive the adoption of SONS. We are children of God by Gift, as an act of love by the Father. Our daily score sheet is not the foundation for acceptance with God. No, no…


# But brethren, we have not understood what God means to obey.


John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”


# The word “keep” here is translated from “teros”, which the Greeks knew meant “to watch, to guard from loss or injury. This is the same meaning as our word “cherish”.


# And commandments here, is translated from “entole”, which literally means, “what I have told you.”


# Notice that Jesus says keeping, or obeying, is cherishing what I have told you. Don’t you think the despised woman at that evening dinner party cherished what Christ told her. She believed. She obeyed. She cherished her Saviour’s words. She loved Him much, because she was forgiven much. Not because she worked at believing, in order to receive the gift…no, no. She found she was accepted, by an act of grace by God Himself. Her belief was her obedience.


# God's grace is not a one-off event....the oil of grace is borne to our hearts continually by the Holy Spirit. As we receive Christ Jesus, so walk we in Him. The Gift brings salvation. This news is our faith, our focus, our message. It is the currency of Heaven.