Tuesday, May 16, 2023

         Peter and Jesus once attended a dinner party at the home of a Pharisee.  It was not a state dinner at the White House but it was somewhere between Biltmore and Burger King.  We pick up this story in Luke 7.  A “sinful woman” who lived in that town heard about the party and that Jesus had been invited.  She showed up with a jar of perfume and, with her tears and that perfume, began to wash Jesus’ feet.  She lavished love and service upon the dusty feet of Jesus.  When the party’s host, the Pharisee who had invited Jesus, saw this display, he cynically and scornfully said, “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).  His reaction was completely predictable.  The Pharisees almost always saw what they wanted to see but often missed the larger truths that God had for them. 
            Jesus offered a response—an indirect reply to the Pharisee that involved Peter.  We read, “Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’  ‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said.  ‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’  Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’  ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said” (Luke 7:40-43).
            Simon (aka Peter) gave the right answer.  He knew that to have sinned greatly required great forgiveness.  He realized that a woman who had sacrificed and served as devotedly as this woman deserved not scorn or rebuke but forgiveness and favor.  We have to wonder if Peter was thinking about his sins and the debts that he had run up against God.  It does not take long for us to discover that we have accumulated some significant debts against the Lord over the course of a lifetime. We may not know the full count or tally of sins we have committed but the Lord does.  And He carried the full weight of each one to cross where He paid the price for each one—even those we are tempted to classify as big or small. 
            Peter spoke the words “I suppose.”  We can almost see the wheels turning in his mind as he began to grasp exactly what Jesus was asking him.  “I suppose” means we are taking a tentative step of faith—not exactly certain but not totally ignorant either.  We are taking a small step of faith and trust.  Indeed, discipleship is often measured by the small steps we take.  And in those small steps, we often discover that the Lord is ready to entrust us with something bigger or even greater to do.  Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).  The small steps of faith are often the proving ground where we gain traction and footing to take those bigger steps that the Lord will bring to us. 
            Jesus told Peter that he had the right answer.  It has to feel wonderful to hear the Lord say “you have judged correctly” (Luke 7:43b).  Indeed, we would all welcome those words spoken to and over us.  May we see ourselves and our sins as Peter did.  May we see ourselves as imperfect creatures who can do little more than fall at the feet of our Savior as this “sinful woman” did.  May we see that sin is a debt—and a huge one that we have amassed.  May we see that forgiveness is life’s greatest joy—to be told that sin no longer owns or possesses us is nothing less than the joy of a lifetime.  We cannot help but wonder what this Pharisee was thinking as he looked on this scene.  Jesus had rebuked him indirectly after his initial outburst.  And he then grew strangely silent. 
            Perhaps this Pharisee began to examine his sinfulness.  Maybe he turned away.  Maybe he was embarrassed to realize that a “sinful woman” and a fisherman had a better grasp on truth than he did.  At that moment, all of his learning, status and stature fell to sidelines and meant nothing.  A “sinful woman” bowed at the Savior’s feet.  A rugged fisherman had just aced an exam on forgiveness. And this Pharisee had nothing else to say.  Where do you find yourself today?  At the feet of Jesus?  Marveling at the magnitude and cost of forgiveness?  Or strangely silent?  Have a good Tuesday.  Remember you can share our worship any time at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.    

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