20230212 Go in Peace

Luke 8:43-48 NET

43 Now a woman was there who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years but could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, and at once the bleeding stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who was it who touched me?” When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing against you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not escape notice, she came trembling and fell down before him. In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Today’s text relates the story of a woman who had a prolonged time of intense crisis in her life. She had a physical ailment that was causing her to suffer, and her suffering continued for twelve years. Many of us know what it is like to have a physical problem that will not go away no matter how many doctors we consult, and no matter how many medicines we take. We have a number of people on our prayer list at the back of our church bulletin and in our weekly newsletter, and they stay on the list because they need our prayers regularly. This was a woman like that. She was needy, and she stayed needy for a long time.

We are tempted to think that such people are hopeless, but today’s story shows us that they are not. As long as Jesus is with us, there is always hope for recovery and restoration. This woman needed peace, and she found peace when she found Jesus.

There is a peace that this woman needed that only Jesus could give (43)

Our text tells us that the woman could not be healed by anyone. She probably went from doctor to doctor, only for each physician to eventually shake his head and tell her that there was nothing that he could do. Maybe she consulted specialists in alternative medicine. Maybe she spent time among the quacks and the witch doctors. At any rate, what she got for all her searching was a big goose egg. They could not give her the peace she needed.

Even if we don’t suffer from her ailment, we can understand her problem, because we can all relate to her story. Each of us had a problem that we could not solve ourselves, and nobody we tried could solve it for us. Our problem was that we all had an illness called sin. The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is more than just a choice you make. It is a disease that you carry inside you, just like that disease the woman suffered with.

The prophet Isaiah described his nation as if they were a body completely covered in disease. He said, “Your head has a massive wound, your whole body is weak. From the soles of your feet to your head, there is no spot that is unharmed. There are only bruises, cuts, and open wounds. They have not been cleansed or bandaged, nor have they been treated with olive oil” (Isaiah 1:5-6 NET). The irony was that the nation of Israel had access to the LORD God who could heal them of their sin and restore them from all the damage that it had done. But they would not come to him.

We have a word for people who refuse to go to the doctor even when they know the doctor can help them. We call them stupid. But this woman in today’s story was not stupid. She had sought help from many, but she had never found that help. She looked for peace, but so far had never gained peace. But when she saw Jesus, she realized her search was over. Now, the only thing she needed to do was touch him.

She sought Jesus despite the obstacles in her path (44).

The problem was, literally everybody wanted to get to Jesus that day. I wish the same was true today. We have a lot of churches in the Delco area, but most of them are not used very much. We still have a lot of people who have a lot of problems, but most of them are not coming to Jesus for their problems. They have time to go to Judge Judy or Doctor Phil, but they don’t have time to seek out Jesus.

But on this day, there were many things going on, and they all centered around Jesus. In fact, this story of the woman with the hemorrhage is told as part of the larger story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus was on his way to resurrect this girl when the woman came up behind him and touched his tassel. People crowded around him, wanting to witness whatever miracle he was going to do next. Peter was amazed that Jesus even noticed this woman’s touch.

But the good news for all of us is that Jesus is available to meet our needs, despite the fact that the whole world needs him all the time. He is the Lord of the universe and he has time to treat your problem. You don’t have to set up an appointment.

This woman had to fight the crowds. She had to muscle into a position where she could get close enough to Jesus to access his healing power. The obstacles were not going to keep her from getting access to Jesus and the deliverance she had sought for years.

She fearfully confessed her dependence on him (45-47).

When she saw that she could not escape notice, she came trembling and fell before him. In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. She had been afraid because her illness was one that made her ritually unclean and she knew that it was unlawful for her to touch anyone else because that would make them ritually unclean. If she had touched any other rabbi, that rabbi would have been justified in having her punished – maybe even put to death.

Craddock points out that in this passage, “Jesus brings God’s blessing to two persons who, while certainly within Judaism, are outside because of ceremonial laws. Maybe the double use of the number twelve (the woman was ill for twelve years, and the girl is twelve years old), symbolic of Israel, is Luke’s reminder that it is within Judaism that these two are outsiders. Because the woman has a discharge of blood, she is unclean, everything she touches is unclean, and whoever touches her is unclean (Lev. 15:25-30). The law was clear; in her own home, in society, and at the synagogue, she was an outsider. The girl, once she dies, defiles those who contact her because of the law concerning a corpse (Num. 19:11-19).”[1]

Look at this event from this woman’s standpoint. She was risking her life to save her life. She was risking destruction to gain deliverance. The only reason this story ended the way it did is that she had gambled on the right Savior. Jesus is the one who made the difference that day. If her faith had been in anyone else, she would have become a victim, not a victor.

That is our story as well. We have come here today to worship God in a Christian church because we have declared our faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior. We have made our choice, and we have found our peace. There are others who have claimed to have found salvation elsewhere. But we have declared our dependence on him.

On that day, … Jesus gave her healing and peace (48).

Michael Card wrote, “She is the third person in this chapter to be found at the feet of Jesus. First, there was the demoniac, and then there was Jairus. And now this nameless woman confesses before Jesus and the crowd what she has done and what has happened to her as a result. Even though he is on an urgent mission, Jesus pauses to help a poor woman whose illness has marginalized her. It is the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus calls a woman by this tender term. “Daughter,” he says, “your faith has made you well.” It is the same thing he told the sinful woman in Luke 7. In his humility, Jesus will always point away from himself and thereby win praise for God. Although few recognize it, two daughters will be healed in this story.”[2]

He told her to go in peace. She came to him a wreck, she left restored. She came to him broken, she left healed. She came in turmoil, but she left in peace. Her physical healing was only part of the blessing that Jesus gave her that day. We don’t know how long she lived. the Bible does not say. But she probably lived several years after her experience with Christ. She probably had other physical ailments after that. But the peace that Jesus gave her never left.

How do I know that? My own personal experience tells me that. I came to Jesus as a young boy. I have had all kinds of problems since I came to Christ at the age of ten, but the peace that he gave me then has never left me. He told me to go in peace and I did. I touched the tassel of his robe once, and that was all it took. I have faced crisis after crisis, some of them life-threatening, but his peace has never left me. Why? For the same reason that this woman could go in peace. Not because she had been healed of a temporary illness. Because she had met Jesus!

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27 NET). We have a choice. We can take the peace that Jesus offers and go in it. Or, we can choose to go with the stress and care and anxiety and disorder and fear that the world will throw at us. Like the woman in today’s story, we have a choice. We can choose to carry our old burdens, or to go through life set free from them. She chose to walk away from her old war and live in peace. Jesus gave her that choice. He commanded her to go in peace, and she obeyed his command.

Now, my question for you – Christian believer – is “Have you obeyed this command?” When you came to Christ to touch his tassel and receive salvation from him, did you get it? There is a way to tell. Those who are restored by him go in peace.

[1] Craddock, Fred B. Luke., 2009. p. 119.

[2] Card, Michael. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2011. p. 116.


20230205 Testify About Him

Mark 5:1-20 NET

1 So they came to the other side of the lake, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 Just as Jesus was getting out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came from the tombs and met him. 3  He lived among the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For his hands and feet had often been bound with chains and shackles, but he had torn the chains apart and broken the shackles in pieces. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Each night and every day among the tombs and in the mountains, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him. 7 Then he cried out with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God — do not torment me!” 8 (For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of that man, you unclean spirit!”) 9 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 He begged Jesus repeatedly not to send them out of the region. 11 There on the hillside, a great herd of pigs was feeding. 12 And the demonic spirits begged him, “Send us into the pigs. Let us enter them.” 13   Jesus gave them permission. So the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs. Then the herd rushed down the steep slope into the lake, and about two thousand were drowned in the lake. 14 Now the herdsmen ran off and spread the news in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind — the one who had the “Legion” — and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man reported it, and they also told about the pigs. 17 Then they asked Jesus to leave their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat the man who had been demon-possessed asked if he could go with him. 19 But Jesus did not permit him to do so. Instead, he said to him, “Go to your home and to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you, that he had mercy on you.” 20 So he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed.


In today’s text, Jesus encountered a man who had some serious psychological problems. That much we can all agree on. He was a lunatic who was a danger to himself and to the whole region where he lived. That was obvious. But according to the Bible, the source of this man’s problems was that he had been dominated by a host of demons. He was a demoniac. There are lots of people who will not accept that explanation for the man’s problem. Jesus was apparently not one of those folks. He spoke to those demons and he commanded them to leave the man. He set the man free not by counseling him but by confronting his captors.

I am also one of those people who takes this story literally. I know demons exist because I also have had experiences where people I know have been dominated by them. I could not afford the luxury of believing that they don’t exist. I also believe that what the Bible says about anything is true. So, I’m not going to spend time today trying to convince you that what Mark wrote about here is true. I may not be able to convince anyone that something is true if they have not experienced it themselves.

My purpose today is to focus on the command of Christ that appears in the text. After he delivered the man from the demons, he told the man to go to his home and his people and testify about what the Lord had done for him. In every story about Jesus, there is always some element with which every one of us can relate. We may not have had a legion of demons inside us. We may not have experienced the supernatural power of God releasing us from that bondage and possessing two thousand frightened pigs. But each of us who has had an experience with Christ has been given a mission from him. Jesus doesn’t send most people off to preach in distant lands. For most people, the mission he gives them is to go back to where they came from and testify about him.

But what do you say if you want to testify. You want to be a witness for Christ, but how do you go about doing that? I think today’s text can give us some valuable advice on how to testify about what Jesus has done for us.

Testify about how you lived before you met Christ (3-5).

“Hello, my name is Legion. You folks probably don’t recognize me, but you’ve seen me before. If you go down to the seashore, you will note that there is a section of caves in a certain spot. Some people use those caves to bury their dead. Lots of people don’t want to come near those caves because they hear screaming coming from them at night. I used to live in those caves. Yeah, I’m the guy.

I called myself Legion because I was possessed by so many demons. A legion has a few thousand soldiers in it. I also remember all the violence and suffering and murders committed by the Roman legions. I caused the same kind of disruption. I hurt others when they came too close, but I also hurt myself. People tried to keep me from doing this, but I always broke free. No one could control the hatred and evil inside of me.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. My own story is not as dramatic as that of the demoniac, but when I was growing up, I can remember doing things that I knew were wrong, and not even knowing why. The fact that I had more control over my life did not mean I was totally free. I wanted to be free, but I needed help to get free. That help came from Jesus.

Testify about how you feared the judgement of Christ (6-7).

“Hello, my name is Legion. When I first met Jesus, I knew who he was. My first impulse was to beg him to leave me alone because I knew who I was too. I knew that what I deserved from him were condemnation and torment and eventual destruction. The demons told me about this coming Messiah who would bring untold suffering to them and the people they possess. I feared that judgment and I feared Jesus.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. My earliest memories of Jesus are not scary. From the church, I learned about the good shepherd who cares for his little lambs. There was nothing to fear from him. Except that I wasn’t always a harmless lamb. I didn’t let people know about it, but there were some people I hated. God knew, and I knew. Most people were surprised when I came down the aisle in church one day. They didn’t think I had done anything to repent of. God knew, and I knew.

Testify about the things that enslaved you before your deliverance by Christ (8-14).

“Hello, my name is Legion. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hate everything and everybody – including myself. These beings inside me just took control of my life. I couldn’t even make a decision without them intruding and getting their way. If I ever wanted to love someone, they would turn that in lust. If I ever wanted to help others, they would turn it into selfishness and abuse. I couldn’t even love myself. They would make me hurt myself. I knew I was their slave, but I also knew that there could be no abolition from this slavery.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. My slavery was a little less extreme, but it was still slavery. I was harmless to others, but I was too absorbed in my own life to help them. I wanted my life my way. I was like a harmless little bird, singing in his cage. Jesus set me free so that I could love others, and help them get free too.

Testify about your new love for Christ (15-18).

“Hello, my name is Legion. I cannot describe for you the incredible feeling of freedom and purity I felt the day I watched two thousand pigs take my demons away. I knew it was Jesus who did it. He set me free. For the first time ever, I was in my right mind. I could remember every shameful thing I had done, but for the first time, I felt no shame. I could remember all the hate I had felt toward others, but for the first time, all I felt for others was love. I could remember all the abuse and violence that I had poured out on myself, but for the first time, I was at peace with myself. Jesus did that for me. I had never loved anyone before. That day, I loved Jesus and I wanted to be with him and follow him and serve him. I saw the other men that had been with him. They called themselves his disciples. That’s what I wanted to be. I said to Jesus, “please let me join your disciples.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. I remember the day my love for Jesus led me to declare that he is my Lord and Savior. I also remember the day I discovered that I could show that love by preaching and teaching about him. Over the years, I have endured some very uncomfortable things because of that decision. But if I had to do it over again, I would. Jesus is worth it.

Testify about your new mission from Christ (19-20).

“Hello, my name is Legion. I was so disappointed when Jesus told me that I was not going to go with him on his preaching tours. I wanted to hear him preach, to watch him heal people, and deliver others from bondage the way he had delivered me. But Jesus had other plans for me. My mission was to go home and testify about him. I had not lived at home for a long time. My home had been the tombs. But I did have a home and a family that the demons had taken me away from. Jesus wanted me to go there and show them what he had done for me. Jesus had dealt mercifully with me. Now he wanted me to treat others with that same mercy and compassion.

But I didn’t stop there. I testified in that one city of the miraculous deliverance I experienced from Jesus. Then I went to the next city. The region I live in is called the Decapolis – the ten cities. I went to all ten cities and proclaimed to them what Jesus did for me, and they were all amazed. I became just as famous as a preacher as I had been as a sinner.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. The first mission Jesus gave me was to assist the pastor in my own church. He came from a long distance, so I started filling in for him during the Wednesday services. Then Jesus called me to go to Bible college, and then start pastoring myself. Along the way, he led me into other ministries, including missions work in other countries. I don’t know what his mission will be for me tomorrow. I do know that any mission he calls me to, he will empower me for. When Jesus saves someone, he doesn’t just put another notch on his belt. Those he rescues, he uses to rescue others. If you are not sure where your mission is, just ask him. There is a place where you need to be. There are people who need to hear your testimony. Testify about Him!


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20230122 Trust Him

Mark 4:35-41 NET

35 On that day, when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” 36 So after leaving the crowd, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat, and other boats were with him. 37 Now a great windstorm developed, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was nearly swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?” 39 So he got up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Be quiet! Calm down!” Then the wind stopped, and it was dead calm. 40 And he said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still not have faith?” 41 They were overwhelmed by fear and said to one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and sea obey him!”

In ancient days, one of the most frightening things that could be imagined is to be at sea and overwhelmed by powerful winds and waves. A psalm describes such an event:

“Some traveled on the sea in ships, and carried cargo over the vast waters. They witnessed the acts of the LORD, his amazing feats on the deep water. He gave the order for a windstorm, and it stirred up the waves of the sea. They reached up to the sky, then dropped into the depths. The sailors’ strength left them because the danger was so great. They swayed and staggered like a drunk, and all their skill proved ineffective. They cried out to the LORD in their distress; he delivered them from their troubles. He calmed the storm, and the waves grew silent. The sailors rejoiced because the waves grew quiet, and he led them to the harbor they desired. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people!” (Psalm 107:23-31).

The psalmist captures the helplessness that the sailors experienced when facing a storm at sea, and the elation they felt when God calmed the storm, and they reached land safely.

My own experience with this kind of thing came when I was in high school. I was a member of the junior reserve officer’s training corps, and one of the perks of belongings to JROTC was that we got to take trips on Navy ships. One Summer, my unit spent a week aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. We boarded the ship at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida, and headed out into the Atlantic for a week we would never forget. The aircraft carrier itself is large enough to hold enough people that it is like living in an entire city that floats on the water. The ship was over 1000 feet long and over 200 feet wide. I imagined that this building on water would not be very much affected by anything that was happening in the water.

I was wrong. We were not too many days out into the Atlantic when the seas started getting rough. The world started moving this way and that. Drawers slid open and closed and then opened again. Most of us kids were turning green and feeding the fish. We were in one of the largest and most powerful vessels ever designed, and we were being tossed about like we were nothing. That storm finally ended, but it left me with an appreciation for the power and danger of the water and wind.

Such was the case for these disciples in today’s text. They understood clearly that they were in danger of dying, and they called out to their Master to save them. We’ll come back to this idea later, but…

First, let’s look at the mission of Jesus on that day (35).

Jesus had been teaching all day by parables on a boat while large crowds listened from the beach of the lake that they called the sea of Galilee. Evening came, and Jesus told his disciples that he wanted to go by boat to the other side of the lake. So the disciples joined Jesus in that boat and others joined them in other boats and they started across that great lake.

The disciples did not know why Jesus wanted to go to the other side of the lake that day. Jesus knew. He had a mission. We have the privilege of reading Mark’s Gospel and so we know that Jesus was heading to the region of Gerasa. There he would encounter a demon-possessed man, and he would rescue him from the demons and send him back to demonstrate his power in the same town that he had terrorized as a demoniac.

Jesus has a mission in Gerasa and it is not the same mission he had on the beach on the other side of the lake. But it was important that Jesus accomplish that mission because the world needs to know that Jesus is more than just a teacher. He can set us free by the truth of his teachings, but he can also set us free by releasing us from our bondage to the devil and his works. He can do more than just influence our minds. He can restore us to our right mind.

We see this same Jesus in the Gospels healing the sick and injured on one day, telling the woman with the bottle of perfumed oil that her sins are forgiven another day, and teaching the crowds about the sower and his seed the next. He is the same Jesus all the time but his mission changes according to the need.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we possess the same Holy Spirit, and we are called to the same kinds of mission that Jesus was. That is why the Holy Spirit gives us gifts so that we can accomplish different things for him. Not all of us are preachers of the gospel. Not all of us teach. Not all of us deliver people from demons. Not all of us have prayers that heal. But among us all those different missions are still being carried out.

In today’s text, Jesus was on his way to Gerasa to rescue a demonized man. That was his mission.

Next, let’s look at the monsters that threatened that mission (37).

I say monsters (plural) because the text tells us that a great windstorm developed – that was the first monster. As a result of the windstorm, the waves were breaking into the boat and threatening to capsize it. That was the second monster.

The water and the wind are usually part of the means of getting from one section of the lake to another. But these same elements that are usually helpful for the task of transportation by boat have turned into hindrances that day.

That is how it is with missions. I was one time planning a mission to Africa, but when I got to the airport, I discovered that my passport did not have enough space in it for the stamps that would clear me for the countries I would be visiting. That small detail became a monster preventing my mission that day.

For the disciples in the boat that day, the monsters were not only threatening the mission, but they were also threatening to put an end to the lives of the missionaries. Everyone was scared. Well, not everyone.

Now, let’s look at the Master of the mission (38).

Jesus was in the stern of the boat catching some zees. He was asleep on a cushion.  He can sleep anywhere. He slept in a manger when he was a baby. He’s sleeping in a boat here. He’s not afraid of monsters. He can see the end from the beginning. He has control of the elements that his disciples worry about. He also has control of the things we worry about.

Why is Jesus unafraid when his disciples are afraid? Well, for one, he has faith. He has eyes that can see the unseen. He has access to a power greater than that of the wind and the waves. He also has a mission to accomplish. If he has a mission to perform, nothing is going to get in his way. That is why the miracles happen.

Now, let’s look at the miracles the Master performed (39)

His panicked disciples woke him up and he said, “Be quiet.” I imagine that the disciples were quiet because of what he said. But he was not talking to them. He was rebuking the wind and the waves. He commanded the monsters. The wind and the waves had transformed into the incredible hulk, and Jesus told them to be quiet and they transformed back into Bruce Banner.

Jesus stopped the storm, but that was just one miracle. You see, if there is a windstorm, and it ceases, a boat on the water can be still in danger from the waves. Jesus not only calmed the wind, but he also spoke to the waves, and they immediately flattened. The text says that it was a dead calm.

Now, let’s look at the men who witnessed the miracles (40-41).

The men in the boat with Jesus had been afraid of the monsters threatening to end their lives. But when Jesus took care of the incredible hulk right before their eyes, did you notice their response? The text says they were overwhelmed – not with relief, not with gratitude, not with joy or worship. It says they were overwhelmed with fear!

We would like to think that if we went around walking on water and calming the sea the way Jesus did, it would result in a lot more people getting saved. But human nature does not work that way. The disciples responded in fear because that is what happens when a power is manifested that you cannot explain.

We would have a lot more miracles happen in our lives if we had enough faith to handle them happening before our eyes. We would also have more such miracles if we stayed actively involved in the missions the Lord has called us to. He has called us to keep proclaiming his gospel, keep obeying his commands, keep loving others in Jesus’ name, and keep doing battle with the real enemy: the devil.

Believers in Jesus Christ are called to a mission. There will be monsters who will oppose and threaten our mission. But we have a Master, and those monsters are no threat to him. He wants his followers to trust him, believe in what the Bible says about him, and continue with the mission despite the storms.

Appreciate Him

20230115 Appreciate Him

Luke 7:36-50 NET

36 Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.
37 Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil.
38 As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”
40 So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty.
42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
44 Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45 You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet.
46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil.
47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”
50 He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

We have been trying to do what Jesus told us to do in his Great Commission. He told us to teach everything that he commanded. So far, we have focused on direct commands, like when he tells those who are mourning to rejoice, or when he tells us to love our neighbors and our enemies. But today we are looking at an indirect command. Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Simon, and he tells him a story, and then he shows him what this woman did for him. So, what we have in today’s text is an implied command. Jesus implies that this Pharisee should appreciate him as this woman did. Luke includes this story in his history because we are all responsible to love and appreciate Jesus as well.

Let’s look at the characters in today’s text.

The first character to appear in today’s drama is a Pharisee named Simon. All we know about him at first is that he was a Pharisee and that he owns his own house. From those two facts, we would assume that this man has his life sorted out. He is not a broken person. He pays his bills, goes to the synagogue, and tries to be nice to others. If you met this man walking around town, you would want to say hello. You might invite this man to church. Nobody would fault you for that. He’s good people.

We also know that Simon had learned about Jesus and invited him to his home for a meal. We can add hospitality to his list of admirable attributes. But if we look a little closer at today’s story we see that Simon’s appreciation for Jesus leaves a bit to be desired. Compared to the woman in the story, Simon’s love for Jesus comes up short.

We see Jesus in this story too. Interestingly, we see two Jesuses. We see Simon’s Jesus and we see the woman’s Jesus. Simon’s Jesus is a Teacher, but there is some question about whether or not he is a prophet. Simon’s Jesus is worth an invitation to his house, but apparently, he does not rate the traditional welcome because Simon’s servant didn’t wash his feet or anoint him with olive oil. Simon also forgot to welcome Jesus with a symbolic kiss on the cheek.

This woman appears out of nowhere. Apparently, Simon’s dining room was adjacent to his courtyard, and this woman just wanders in and starts ministering to Jesus. She is the diametrical opposite of Simon. She has a reputation as a sinner. If you see her walking around town you would probably turn around and walk in the opposite direction. You don’t say hello to such a person, and you definitely would not invite her to church. Simon didn’t invite her to his house. She just showed up.

Interestingly, though, this woman’s Jesus is very different from Simon’s Jesus. Just coming into Jesus’ presence sends this woman into tears. She has forgotten her towel for wiping his feet, so she wipes them with her hair. She has a little bottle of perfumed oil and she uses that to anoint Jesus’ feet. The very least that we can say about this woman is that she values and appreciates Jesus Christ. She is a visual aid to demonstrate what it means to worship the Savior.

The final characters in the setting are the others who had been invited and are at the table. Their only line is a question. They ask “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” Like Simon, they are not convinced that Jesus is who he claims to be. The only person in the story who demonstrates faith in Jesus is the woman.

Now, let’s look at the lessons taught in today’s text.

There are two lessons. The first is the object lesson taught by the woman. Through her actions, she teaches what it means to appreciate Jesus. She does not immediately come to see Jesus face-to-face. She approaches from behind and ministers to his feet. To understand how this happens, you have to realize that when people are dining in Jesus’ day, they lie down and rest on their left elbow, and their feet are exposed. Having access to his feet, she washes, kisses, and anoints them with her perfumed oil. She does what Simon should have done. Simon welcome Jesus to his house, but this woman recognized who he really is. Simon asked Jesus to come to his house, but this woman came to Jesus.

Jesus had recently commanded all those who are weary and burdened to come to him and he will give them rest. This woman had decided to repent of her sin and come to her Savior. She decided to stop carrying the heavy load of her life of sin and get the rest that Jesus offers. From the way she treats Jesus in Simon’s house, you can see that her life has changed. Conversion does that to a person. Now, her only goal in life is to love her Lord. That is why she does what she does.

Now, Simon the Pharisee is apparently too dense to figure out the first lesson, so the Teacher gives him another one. The second lesson is a parable. Jesus tells a story about a creditor and two debtors. Both debtors owe what they cannot pay, so the creditor decides to forgive both debts. Jesus asks Simon which debtor would love the generous man more. Even Simon can’t get that wrong. He acknowledges that the one who is forgiven more will love the forgiver more. We don’t know from Luke if Simon was able to make the connections and turn his life around and love Jesus as this woman did.

Finally, let’s look at the doctrines taught by today’s text.

I think this passage of scripture reinforces what the Bible teaches on many levels. For example, the Bible teaches us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In the parable Jesus taught Simon, the important thing he mentioned about the two debtors is that they both owed what neither could pay. Isaiah says “All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path” (53:6). Both of the debtors needed their debt to be canceled. Jesus loved this woman and he also loved Simon, and he loved the others around the table. He offered forgiveness to them all. But the woman responded to God’s grace and apparently Simon and the others did not. Simon doubted that Jesus was a prophet. The others just asked who he really was. Only this woman had the faith to accept his salvation. Which person in the story am I? Am I devoted to loving Jesus because of his forgiveness, or am I still on the fence?

We should also be careful not to misinterpret today’s story as if it teaches that you have to be a great sinner in order to be a great Christian. Note how Jesus puts it in verse 47: “her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much.” She loved much not because she had sinned much. She loved much because she had been forgiven. You don’t have to wallow with the pigs in order to appreciate a good bath. Forgiveness cleanses us from all sin and fits us to worship as this woman did.

What does it take to know true forgiveness? Jesus told the woman “Your sins are forgiven.” Why did he tell her that? He said to her “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Her faith drew her to Jesus, and Jesus forgave her. The difference between this woman and the others in today’s story is not the lifestyle she used to live. The difference is the choice she made. You and I are challenged to make the same choice. We need to see ourselves as hopelessly in debt and entirely dependent on God’s grace. Then, when we see Christ, by faith we recognize that he is the answer to our deepest needs. That is why we can “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help” (Hebrews 4:16).

What is the result of our seeing Christ for who he really is? Like the woman in the story, we come to him in faith, showing tearful repentance for our sins, and demonstrating appreciation and worship. We come to his feet in humility. We offer our best perfumed oil for his feet. We are changed. We call that being saved. It comes with a new destiny. Before salvation, our sins keep adding to the debt that we cannot pay. Our destiny is destruction. We have no hope. But after salvation, we are free to demonstrate love again. We can demonstrate love to Christ. We can demonstrate love to our neighbors. We can demonstrate love to each other. We can even demonstrate love to our enemies. We have been forgiven much, thus we love much.

Before salvation, we are at war. We are at war with others. We are at war with ourselves. We are at war with God. But after salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, he tells us what he told that woman. He said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” He tells us that we have a new life to live today. It is a life of wholeness and devoid of the enmity and brokenness that had characterized our past life.

It is the peace of safety and security. We can say with the psalmist “I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, LORD, make me safe and secure” (Psalm 4:8). Our Lord is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He tells his followers “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27). Wherever we go, we can go in peace. Nobody can take away that peace because we get it from him.

Now, as a result of our time in today’s text, we should all be asking ourselves two important questions. First, who is Jesus to me? Is he a curious mystery as the people around the table saw him? Is he a Teacher but less than a prophet like Simon saw him? Or, is he the wonderful Savior, forgiver of sins, giver of peace, and granter of grace that the woman saw?

The second question is who am I? Am I a hopeless debtor, destined for destruction? Or am I a forgiven debtor, free to live and love again, and destined for eternal life? Before she left Simon’s house that day, the woman knew who she was. Before you and I leave this house today, we need to discover who we are.


Come to Him

Matthew 11:20-30 NET

20 Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done
many of his miracles because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you,
Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles done in you had been
done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth
and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on
the day of judgment than for you! 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be
exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the
miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have
continued to this day. 24 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for the
region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!” 25 At that time
Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you
have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed
them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows
the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all
you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my
yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and
my load is not hard to carry.”

We are continuing to look at the commands that Jesus gave us in the
Gospels. We have moved from those commands found in his sermons on
the mount and the plain, but we will still find many important commands as we read the narratives in the Gospels, and we will also notice several more sermons.

Today we focus on Jesus’ command for the weary and burdened to come to him. We find that command in verse twenty-eight. It comes with a promise from the Lord that those who come to him will find rest.

If we back up seven verses, we find that …

The Lord came to three cities with the gospel (21,23).

Those three cities are all in the region of Galilee, where Jesus performed
most of his miracles during this time in his ministry. Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee. After his hometown rejected him, he moved to Capernaum, and the focus of his early ministry was in the region consisting of that city and others (like Chorazin and Bethsaida).

Jesus and his disciples visited all three of these cities numerous times, and they preached the gospel there. They gave ample evidence of the truth of their message by performing signs and wonders. All three of these cities are proud of the fact that they had a rich spiritual heritage. Capernaum, for example, seems to have adopted a motto that because of Jesus’ work among them, Jesus would exalt them to heaven. These cities expected Jesus to bless them because he had exposed them to the gospel.

But those cities refused to come to Him! (20,22,24).

Matthew tells us that Jesus criticized these cities because they did not
repent. In other words, Jesus had invited them to come to him, but they never came. It was like they had bragged about all the invitations they had received for the wedding but never got around to going to the ceremony.

You might remember that Jesus gave a parable (recorded in Matthew 22) about a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. In that parable, the king’s command was “Come to the wedding banquet.” The king became furious because the people he had invited “were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.”

When people refuse God’s gracious invitation to come to his Son, it infuriates him. To show this, Jesus picked three pagan cities, notorious for their sinfulness. Those cities were Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon. These were three bad apples – rotten to the core. But Jesus said that on Judgment Day, these three cities would fair better than Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida.

Jesus said that because he had not blessed Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon by his presence like he had blessed Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida. The king had not invited them to the wedding banquet. Those who God blesses with the message are responsible to respond to the message. It is a sin to hear the gospel and to be indifferent to it.

But there is good news in today’s text. After his condemnation of
those cities…

Jesus Praises his Father for those who did come to Him (25-27).

Despite the refusal of these Galilean cities to repent and come to Jesus,
many individuals had responded to his message, repented of their sins,
and forgave them and welcomed them.

Jesus’ prayer in today’s text reveals two principles. Both principles are valid scriptural truths. People have problems with one or the other of these biblical truths. The reason is that it is hard to hold to one of these principles without denying the other.

The first principle is that everyone is responsible to repent of their sins and come to Christ. The second principle is that no one understands this responsibility unless God supernaturally reveals it to them.

The Galilean cities had heard the gospel many times, but they never responded to it. But the king was not going to sit idly by while those he invited refused to come to his son’s wedding. He told his slaves to go into the main streets and invite everyone they find to come.

The citizens of those Galilean cities were happy to be associated with Christ and his ministry, but they considered themselves too wise and intelligent to respond to the gospel by repenting of their sins. But there were some little children who were meek mourners who were poor in spirit, and hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness.

Jesus blessed his apostles because they were hungry and thirsty for his righteousness, and he promised them that they would be filled. He gave them the proper wedding garments – he clothed them in his righteousness.


Jesus invites us all to come to Him (28-30).

He tells all of us who are weary and burdened that we can come to him
and find rest. This is the rest of God’s grace. We cannot earn this rest. It
only comes to those who choose to let God save them.

The invitation is to all. Even those Galilean cities are the target of this
invitation, even though they repeatedly refuse it. On the day of
Judgment, the books will be opened. A record of every time the gospel
was presented will be noted. A record of every time a person thought
“Not now” will be revealed.

He tells all of us to put his yoke on our necks. The version I read says
“you will find rest for your souls” but souls do not wear yokes. You put a
yoke on your neck. The master carpenter has built a yoke for you that fits
perfectly. When you are doing your work wearing his yoke, it will not
seem like work. It will be work and rest at the same time.

He tells all of us to learn from him. Oh, the hardship we suffer needlessly
because we stubbornly refuse to follow instructions. He has taught us
all we need to know to live our best life, but we leave his book on the
shelf. If there is one resolution I recommend every year it is to get back to
the Bible. Learn the word of God. Learn from the teacher who obeyed
every word his Father gave him.

The reason Jesus is the best teacher is that he is gentle and humble in
heart. We all know what it is like to have a teacher who is proud, cruel, and abusive. You can’t learn anything with that kind of teacher. But our
teacher cares about us. He is patient with us, giving us the same
instruction again and again until it sticks.

His yoke is easy to bear, and his load is not hard to carry. Compared to
the load the devil gives us, living the Christian life is a piece of cake. It is
a burden, but it is a light burden. Even when Jesus commands us to love
our fellow Christians, we will find that the more we do that, the more joy
we will experience in this life. We will find ourselves saying “He ain’t
heavy, he’s my brother.”

Now, what happened with the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida and
Capernaum? The citizens of those cities were told a lie and believed it.
The devil told them that there are three ways to live. He told them that
they didn’t have to live the devil’s way, and they didn’t have to live
Jesus’ way either. They could follow Frank Sinatra and live life their way.

Folks, I hope you are not planning to stand before Christ on Judgment
day and tell him “I did it my way.” “My way” is the devil’s way. Jesus
said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through Him.

Jesus invites us all to come to him because He is the way to the Father
(John 14:6).

Jesus invites us all to come to him because whoever believes in him will
not perish but have permanent life (John 3:16).

Jesus invites us all to come to him because the result of living life my way
is permanent death, but the Gift of God through Jesus Christ is
permanent life (Romans 6:23).

Jesus invites us all to come to him because God has given us a chance to
live a permanent life, and this promise of a permanent life is exclusively
for those who are in his Son. The one who has the Son has this permanent
life: the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this
permanent life (1 John 5:11-12).

Delco is not listed among the cities that Jesus condemned in today’s text.
But we are in danger of sharing their fate. We have been blessed with the
proclamation of the gospel, and with much evidence of its reality. We
have no excuse if we choose to live life our way – the devil’s way. The
invitation to come to Christ has been given. Each of us is commanded
to respond.