You know, I like parties. And I especially like the ones that I’m invited to. Jesus was invited to a party. At the house of Simon. And He went. Now when Jesus goes to a party, you expect that you’re going to learn something. Because He just doesn’t go to parties. And especially when there’s a warrant out for His arrest. Because, you see, it’s just a week now before the cross. And there’s grave danger in Him eating at the house of a Pharisee, because they’re after Him, you understand? But Jesus goes right into the house of the Pharisee.
Now this Pharisee, named Simon, must have had a great purpose in inviting about 13 hungry men into his house. And you know, those son’s of Zebedee can really put it away. And there were others there. Lazarus, Martha, Mary. A lot of people.
And rich lessons are tucked in between the… I’d like for you to come to Luke, chapter 7. There are many lessons for us here today, to learn. Luke, chapter 7, we’ll begin with verse 36, and you can kind of read it along, you’re familiar with this experience. And notice how Jesus views sinners. I am a sinner. And you are a sinner. We all are. And this true story is a window on Jesus’ heart as to how He really does view sinners. Even sinners who make it a repeated profession to sin.
The guests were all reclining at couches in the cool evening in the courtyard of this wealthy Pharisee. Maybe people were looking for Jesus to appoint Lazarus as His Vice President before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I don’t know. In the Bible days the people came to people’s houses, not by limousine or by car. They came by foot path. And they walked on the same foot path as the cows. And so, every now and then, when they stepped down, you know what they stepped in. And this was evening. And usually, that’s why people would wash one another's feet. It was customary to wash your feet. Simon didn’t do that that night. You can read it in all four of the gospels. And Jesus feet were not washed. And also the welcome kiss was withheld. And the anointing oil was withheld. You know, that anointing oil was perfumed. So it was sort of like a deodorant, and people that came in from the heat of Palestine, they smelled good. That’s why they did that. But none of that for Jesus.
Well, all was going smoothly when in walked a very attractive lady named Mary. And there she was. And she had been known for her loose, immoral life. And Simon was unaware of what Mary had become since Mary had met Jesus over the past few months. And he didn’t remember. All he could remember is her past. And you know, we human beings have a way of remembering people’s past. They’ve maybe gone way on beyond that, and they’ve been forgiven, and they’re a true follower of Jesus, but we remember their past. How quick we are to expose what somebody used to be.
Well, Simon should have focused on his own problems, because you see, Simon had been a leper. You can read that in Matthew’s account of it. In other words, under his expensive, beautiful, white robes had been a disease. There concealed, was the evidence of his leprosy. He looked good externally but under those fancy robes he was a disfigured man. The Divine Physician though, was in his house that day, but he didn’t benefit. As far as we know, he was not thankful to be healed. Mary went to bed that night cleansed of all her sin. Simon went to bed that night still showing the scars of his leprosy. Uncleansed. An unforgiven, disfigured former leper.
Simon withheld his water, Mary freely gave her water, her tears. Simon withheld his kiss. Mary continually kissed the feet of Jesus. Simon kept his oil. Mary poured it all upon Jesus. There’s a difference.
Somebody at that party whispered, “Look at her. She’s nothing but a prostitute." With horror they saw her come over to Jesus, and wondered what she was going to do. Now, you know, Jesus never met a prostitute. Jesus never met a prostitute. Because each person that Jesus sees; when He sees a harlot, He sees what she might become. He doesn’t see her as a prostitute. And when Jesus sees you, He focuses on what you can become, not on what you were. And that ought to be your focus. When you look at your kids, you need to focus on their potential, and not what they are. Always see the best in somebody.
Well, Mary, when she came in, she had something in her hand. A small, little alabaster jar, says Matthew. And with effort she opens it, breaks it open. I don’t know how she got it open. She opened it, and soon the entire area was filled with the lovely perfumed smell as she anointed Jesus with spikenard. Every eye was riveted on this intruder. She poured this expensive nard on Jesus. Now true worship is always at a great personal cost. If worship doesn’t cost you something, worship isn’t true. And where did she get the money to buy this expensive perfume worth one year of wages? What was her profession? That’s where she got it, I guess. From that money. Did Jesus accept it? Yes He did. He accepts our best. Finally she knelt at His feet. She rinsed His feet with her tears. Imagine how much crying you would have to do to actually completely wash the feet of Jesus. Imagine how intense her worship was. She gave all she had to Jesus.
And everybody there was horrified. Whispers were shared like candy. This looked terribly bad. But she didn’t care what the crowd thought. She had come to worship. And today we have so many excuses. People don’t want to come to church for worship. “Well, I don’t have anything to wear.” She wore what she had. “Well, I haven’t been to church for a long time, what are people going to think?” Mary simply came. And she was accepted. Jesus always accepts when you come to worship. And she was richly blessed.
And she stayed there at Jesus’ feet worshiping, continually kissing His feet. And then she realized His feet were all wet and she thought, “I can’t leave Him like that, and I don’t have a towel to dry His feet with.” So she unbound her long hair and dried His feet with her hair. And the Pharisee about blew a gasket. Because, for a woman to unbind her hair in public was a grievous sin. That legalistic Pharisee was embarrassed to death. Simon saw her as a street harlot. But Jesus saw her as a soul wanting forgiveness. She was where every sinner ought to be. She was at the feet of Jesus. Isn’t that where sinners belong?
And as Simon sat there watching, a shocking thought came to his mind. He thought, “You know, Jesus is not really a prophet. He’s not the Son of God. He can’t be, or He would know who was washing His feet, and He would put a stop to it, because good people don’t associate with bad people.” Wrong. Jesus associates with sinners. Correct? He does! A good Pharisee would consider himself defiled if he as much as brushed against or touched a sinner like that.
Have you heard of a book called the Gospel Blimp? You know what a blimp is? It floats up there in the sky. There’s this story of a group of Christians, supposedly, who desired to witness to the heathen in their city but they don’t want to get contaminated, you know. And so they get this blimp and they’re all up there dropping gospel tracts and pamphlets down on these heathens and praying for them from up there. Is that the way you actually help people?
A week from tonight we’re going to have a group presenting vespers, and we’re going to tell our experience in Africa, and what we did in Africa was Share Him. I hope you’re going to be here. We had to touch those people. I touched people that had leprosy. So you may not want to touch me. I don’t know. You’ve got to touch people. You can’t evangelize people at a distance.
Could it be a sin, when some so called Christians cease and desist from associating with the very people who need their fellowship, who need their love, who need their prayers? Sinners can be lifted up by Jesus Christ only by direct contact and loving touch. That’s how you save somebody. As Christians we’ve got to associate with people who need our touch. We’ve been too stand-offish as Adventists for too long. We need to associate with sinners.
Jesus read Simon’s thoughts, and you can read this here in Luke 7. Look at Luke 7, verse 40. In verse 40, Jesus answered him, his thoughts, and He said, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. And then He told him the story of these two debtors. Two debtors. They were both in big debt. One owed much and the other owed ten times less, but they were both in debt, and the interesting thing about this story is neither of them could pay the debt. They were totally incapable of paying the debt. And this teaches me that we are all in a deep spiritual debt, you know? And we can’t pay our debt by anything that we have. Our works, whatever, we are totally incapable of paying for our debt. And the higher the debt the more it will cost the Benefactor. By using this parable I think Jesus was privately saying to Simon, “I know what you did to Mary yourself. You were one of her customers.”
But Jesus doesn’t stop here. He let him know that even his sin, even though it was 10 times bigger and 10 times worse than her sin, could be forgiven. All sin can be forgiven. Both the high class and the low class sinners can be forgiven. We all have the same problem. Neither can pay for our sins. And did you know that actually there is no little sin. Romans, chapter 6 and verse 23, does not say “the wages of big sin is death”. It doesn’t say that.
So Jesus loves to forgive debts, especially when it’s sin. Mary’s love did not earn her forgiveness, in case you think, “Well, she earned it by her tears and her perfume.” That followed her forgiveness. Verse 50 says she was saved by her faith. Her numerous sins quickly were vanquished. All gone. Erased.
But let's get back to our story. Come over here to John’s version in your Bible. John, chapter 12. We’re going to go, this is in all the gospels, and I think it’s telling the same story, just in different terms. John, chapter 12 and verse 4, talks about Judas. And it says that Judas was watching. Judas was sitting there, you know, like a hungry, beady-eyed hawk. He probably thought, “You know, this is so sickening! What is wrong with Jesus? Doesn’t He realize that this expensive perfume,” which was about a half a liter, “could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor. And I could have even embezzled, maybe, a little bit of it.”
For Judas it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In fact, that very night he went out and negotiated a sale for Jesus, selling Jesus for 30 silver dollars. 30 pieces of silver. He could no longer associate with a Jesus that permitted such a terrible waste of money. And why did Jesus allow this woman to waste this money on Him? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know Jesus’ thoughts? It would be interesting. Why did He allow her to keep kissing his feet? Would you think one kiss would be enough? Why did Jesus just allow her to keep kissing His feet? I would like to know Jesus’ thoughts.
Fortunately, I believe we do know His thoughts. Come over here to Mark 14 in your Bible. Jesus tells us what He was thinking. Mark 14 and verse 6. Notice what Jesus says about what she has done. She’s poured the oil, she’s kissed His feet, washed His feet, and dried His feet. What does He say here in verse 6? "She has done a beautiful thing to me." That’s what Jesus thinks. This was beautiful in His sight. Jesus was happy. He was pleased with what she did. Isn't Jesus wonderfully kind and understanding? He complimented her. And He’s going to compliment you some day. When you actually get to heaven, He’s going to say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Isn’t He? Jesus likes to give a compliment.
Mark Twain said, “I can live two weeks on a good compliment.” “Well done.” Jesus loves to show kindness and approval for our most feeble efforts.
Mary served at the feet of Jesus. Her kisses were good because of her motive. Can you think of somebody else that kissed Jesus once? His kiss was bad, Judas’ kiss. Why was Judas’ kiss bad and Mary’s kiss was good? The motive. Exactly right. The motive.
I think Martha loved Jesus. One day Jesus came to Martha’s house, in Luke 10, and verse 38 and onward, it tells about this experience. And notice that it was not Mary’s house. I don’t even know if Mary had a house. The Martha’s in this world are more wealthy, the workaholics, the people that tend to the dishes and the cooking. It’s Martha’s house, Luke 10, verse 38. It was not Mary’s house. The Mary’s of this world experience more of the spiritual wealth. And I’m not, if your name is Mary, or if your name is Martha, I’m not talking about. It’s the personality type. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, and workaholic Martha prepared the food. And I think Martha served at his table but you know what? The menu that night is completely forgotten. All we remember is Mary’s menu. Oil. Tears. Hair. Crying. Martha came and stood at Jesus’ face and reprimanded Him, and said, “I need help in the kitchen.” And Mary knelt at Jesus’ feet worshiping Him. Loving Him. I think the sinner’s place is not standing at Jesus’ face telling Him what to do, but kneeling at His feet, worshiping Him and loving Him. Mary offered wordless worship.
And Mary saw Jesus as her Saviour. And she had witnessed her brother Lazarus come out of the cold tomb. She knew Who Jesus was. She loved Him for that. She had been totally pardoned of her past sins. And she came to Him because her heart was full of love. Why did she come to him that night? Why didn’t she do this in private? Why did she do it at the party? I think she knew that He was about that far from being crucified. And I think that she sensed, here He is in danger, at the house of this Pharisee. They could come, they could get Him that very night, and take Him off and kill Him, and if I don’t anoint Him now, I’m not going to have a chance to anoint Him. That’s why she did it then.
Mary is the only one who understood that Christ would die soon. And why didn’t John understand? Or Peter? Or somebody else? They missed the boat. I think loves, the person who loves the most, understands the most. I think love gives us a little bit of 20/20 vision to our spiritual eyesight.
Mary was the one who sat at His feet for hours. Mary is the one who anointed Him with spikenard. Mary is the one who bathed His feet with her tears. Mary is the one followed Him to the Cross. Mary is the one who was there when He died. Mary is the one who actually was the first to be there on resurrection morning. Mary is the one who was the first to speak with Him on resurrection morning.
And why is that? Because Mary sat at His feet in love. She loved Him the most. We don’t hear anything about Martha during this time. Maybe Martha was back cleaning the house, or running the vacuum. I don’t know.
Mary sent her flowers before the funeral. And you know, you need to do that. She anointed Him before He died. Nobody else did it. Well, Nicodemus did it. Later, Nicodemus brought 1 hundred pounds of expensive myrrh and aloe, but that didn't compare at all with Mary’s gift, because hers was given out of an even greater love. And you know, I’ve known a lot of people that send the flowers after the person dies. I’ve known a lot of men who are the silent type. They marry the person, and on their wedding day they say “I love you” and afterwards they say, “If I ever change my mind I’ll let you know. But you’ve heard it once, so that’s enough.” There’s too many of us that are the silent type. Let’s express our love and express it today, and express it while the person is still able to understand it. And appreciate it. And still alive. She didn’t wait. She did it then. Mary's act was wonderful because she did what she could, when she could do it. And I think that’s what we ought to do.
Let the Judases pout and snarl and rave. But Mary's alabaster jar was broken to show us a wonderful truth. And I will tell you that Jesus is our alabaster jar. Now twist your mind on this a little bit. Jesus is our alabaster box. Jesus was broken for us. Mary’s offering was a gift bestowed upon His dusty feet. Jesus’ gift will wash away our dusty sins and replace the covering of sinful dust that’s all over us with the robe of His righteousness which He wants to give us.
Jesus does not stand at your head telling you what to do, but comes as a servant to your feet, to serve you. To wash you, to cleanse you, to save you. That’s what Jesus is for. You want to accept Jesus as your Saviour?
I would like to make a call here. Jesus longs to wash you before you leave. Don’t go away from here unsaved. If anybody here would like to stand and say by standing, “I want to”, the very first time in my live, maybe, “accept Jesus as my Saviour”, or the other group, “I want to re-commit my life to Jesus.” Maybe for the first time, or you want to re-commit your life to Jesus. Would those two groups, would you stand, please? And I hope this will be everybody. You’re either doing it for the first time, or you’re re-commiting your life to Jesus.
Let’s have prayer together.
Dear Father in heaven. Thank you for this dramatic story. Thank you for being our Saviour. Please cleanse all of us. And wash us, and dry away the filth from our lives. Empower us to quit that bad habit. Change us. Save us. And then clothe us with Your righteousness. Bless this congregation, I pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Let’s sing our closing hymn, number 186.
Hymn of Praise: #10, Come, Christians, Join to Sing Scripture: John 12:1-3 Hymn of Response: #186, I've Found a Friend
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 10/20/07