#1 - Authentic worship ________________________.
We don’t have to be inside of a church to worship. Worship can happen wherever we are. Because wherever we are, we’ll find God right there with us! The worship event we’ll consider today happens inside a Pharisee’s home. Today’s text features 3 main characters. #1 - Jesus, Son of God, walking around in human flesh. For those who think he came just to be critical of the ruling religious leaders… WRONG! Having dinner with a Pharisee. #2 - A Pharisee named Simon. For those who think the Pharisees were all out to get Jesus… WRONG! Here is one who invited Jesus to dinner.
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.” Luke 7:36 NIV
No doubt this Pharisee was expecting to have Jesus all to himself. He might have foreseen an exchange of religious ideas, a discussion of theology, maybe a debate about what Jesus was really all about. One thing he wasn’t expecting - an authentic worship experience from our third main character, #3 - a well-known sinful woman.
#2 - Authentic worship ____________________________.
“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house.” Luke 7:37a NIV
When we say a “well-known sinful woman,” we mean that everyone knew it. The Pharisee knew it. The woman knew it. And while the Pharisee wasn’t sure about this, Jesus knew it too. The sin of the woman was nothing new - to her or anyone else. The only thing we’re told she “learned” was that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. She recognized her sin AND she learned the answer to her sin [Jesus] was having dinner at the Pharisee’s house. Most of the time all we need to do is get out a person’s way and not keep them separated from Jesus - the solution to their sin problem.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV
We have this in common with everyone - not just Christians. Is this how we come across? Or as somehow better? Self-righteous?
#3 - Authentic worship _____________________________.
“So she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.” Luke 7:37b NIV
Alabaster comes from a rare stone found in Israel. Texture of marble. Expensive. Estimated value of alabaster jar + perfume/ointment = one year’s wages. May have been her dowry. Very likely most valuable thing she owned. She broke the jar. Poured out all the perfume. In another case we find Judas quite upset because of all the things the money could have been used for. Yet this woman poured it all out for Jesus.
Authentic worship is like that. Beyond reason. Response of sacrifice. Illustrating that everything I have belongs to You Jesus. Another way of saying I would have nothing if not for You. Broken alabaster = equals a breaking of my past life and a dedication to follow. A broken spirit…
“The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin.” Psalm 51:17 NCV
We have to stop here and just ask - When is the last time you responded with sacrifice instead of reason? What is it about your worship that demonstrates a breaking from your past / desire a future with Jesus?
#4 - Authentic worship _________________________.
“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.” Luke 7:38 NIV
Can you imagine? Everything stops. There’s no ignoring this. She is at his feet. She is weeping. She is wiping his feet with her tears. She is wiping his feet with her hair. She is kissing his feet! Then pouring the perfume out all over. The whole place stinks of this fragrance. This is worship at it’s most disruptive!
Who would you identify most with here? You want to say the woman, but in your heart you know it’s the Pharisee! Can you imagine this happening in church? That someone is so overcome with forgiveness that they weep aloud? That they break something so expensive that it could have purchased all the worship / band / sound / video equipment that we could have used for the next 10 years?! That the smell was so overwhelming we had to open the windows and blow the fans? That’s disruptive!!!
I’m not saying to any of you that you should do this. I AM saying that the issue of whether or not we raise our hands during singing, and how high… or whether we speak out an “Amen” during the sermon… All that seems pretty silly in comparison, doesn’t it? Ultimately, how focused can we be only on Jesus and not on ourselves (or how foolish we might feel) or on someone else (and how uncomfortable they may be making us)?
#5 - Authentic worship _______________________________.
“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.’” Luke 7:39 NIV
God is the audience. We are the worshippers. All our focus is upon him. That was true of this woman in the Pharisee’s home, right? But what about the Pharisee? Did he join her or did he judge her? That is a key question when it comes to worship.
Hopefully this doesn’t happen too much when you worship here at Church Requel, but that’s only because you have grown accustomed to our style of worship. (Even so, there are times you may struggle.)
What about when you worship somewhere else. Especially with a church that is very different than yours? Do you JOIN or do you JUDGE? Critical question. Why? Because if you find yourself judging someone else for what they are doing, then there is no way your heart can be focused on The Audience of ONE! Only when you JOIN! This is important to God!
“These people worship me only with their words. They honor me by what they say. But their hearts are far away from me. Their worship doesn’t mean anything to me.” Isaiah 29:13 NIRV
Sometimes we need to be shook up in our worship experience. We need to go to another worship experience - different than we are accustomed. So we can get out of our comfort zone. So we can make the conscious decision to JOIN and not to JUDGE. So we can deliberately focus our hearts upon God and nothing and no one else. Purposefully moving our hearts from “far away” to “close up” with God.
#6 - Authentic worship ____________________________.
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 7:47NIV
Jesus shares the parable of two men, one who had been forgiven 50 denarii (2 months wages) and another who had been forgiven 500 denarii (20 months wages). Neither had the ability to pay it back. Simon answered (and Jesus agreed) that the one who would love more would be the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.
So when it comes to worshiping with a full-hearted, focused love, thankful for forgiveness, the Christ-follower who has been forgiven much has much reason to worship sacrificially, with disruption, to the Audience of ONE Who has so richly forgiven.
But what about those of us who have led a decent life? Who haven’t sinned greatly? (Or who conveniently can’t remember our sinful indiscretions?) Does this mean we can’t love with as big a heart? NO!
Our key verses MUST BE the combination of Romans 3:23 (All have sinned) with Luke 7:42 - “Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both.”
The penalty for both would be the same - Incarceration or enslavement until the debt is paid! Both were forgiven! Both penalties were set aside. Both received mercy (didn’t receive what they did deserve). Both received grace (both received what they did not deserve.) Both have reason to worship!
Conclusion - Never let what was said of Simon be said of us. That we did not treat Jesus with the love and respect He so richly deserves. Never let us become so accustomed to worship that we become bored or ungrateful or unemotional or feeling forgiven. We all worship with Sin Forgiveness.