Study Notes: Luke 7:36-8:15
7:36 A dinner invitation
Simon the Pharisee hadn't invited Jesus over for friendship or fellowship. Nor had he given the invitation in hopes of a partnership or relationship. No, he had invited Jesus over because of one reason: Leadership. You see, the people were leaving the Pharisees' leadership and beginning to follow Jesus. Simon had to trick Him into saying something, trap Him into doing something. Anything that would give the Pharisees an opportunity to expose Jesus as a fraud, to foreclose on His newfound popularity.
As a result, when Jesus came for dinner, no common courtesy was shown to Him. In those days, the servant of the house would take off the guest's sandals, wash his feet with water, and annoint his head with oil. In the case of a Rabbi such as Jesus, the master of the house would then give him a kiss on the cheek, and escort him to the head of the table. Instead, He was ignored, and given the seat nearest the door. No kiss on the cheek, just a social slap on the face.
I wonder what kind of reception Jesus receives at our houses? Is He treated as an honored guest, or is He given almost no attention at all? Do we kiss Him and sit Him at the most important seat? Or do we say, "Hey. Sit over there by the door."
7:37-38 A sinful woman
The woman - a harlot, a prostitute. She had recently heard Jesus preaching - about repentance, turning from sin. And about the coming of the kingdom of God. She knew it was true. She knew that her life of sin had doomed her to an eternity apart from God. But she also heard the sincerity in the voice of this teacher from Galilee. That forgiveness was available to her. She had reached out and grabbed it. Now forgiven, she is overjoyed by the exhilaration, overwhelmed by the excitement, and overcome by the emotion. "Who am I that you would forgive me, Lord?" Or, as the psalmist wrote:
Ps. 8:4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?
Are you in that place with the Lord - total amazement? Her actions are the evidence of someone who's been radically saved: She went to where He was, she wept, and she worshipped.
She must see Him again. To hear that voice again. To be reminded of her forgiveness again. When she learned where He was, she grabbed a gift for Him and headed out the door. She went to the house He was in. It didn't matter to her who else was there - she went to see Jesus. It didn't matter that it was a long walk, or that her favorite sit-com might be on television. It wasn't an inconvenience, because she was going to be with Jesus. Today, there are many who make excuses - "I'm busy", or "So and so's going to be there", or "I can worship God on a mountain or a golf course." But the Lord didn't ordain mountains and golf courses. He ordainded the church as the instrument by which we corporately go to Him. Jesus said,
Matt. 18:20 "...Where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst."
And the writer of the book of Hebrews says,
Hebr. 10:24-25 ...Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
She wept and worshipped
She not only went to where He was, but she wept and worshipped. That is so foreign to most of us here - we just don't get it. And our lack of understanding is not because of a cultural divide - it is because of an emotional one. She wept and she worshipped. Worshipping with such fervency, with such emotion, that it didn't matter who else was in the room. Oblivious to all but Jesus Christ, she gave Him her small gift, pouring it out upon his feet. She cried her eyes out - why? Sorrow for her sinfulness, and thankfulness for her forgiveness.
Dear saints, why are OUR lives not evidencing this kind of weeping, this kind of worship? Jesus goes on to explain it with this parable:
7:39-43 Parable of two debtors
A denarius was about a day's wages. If your average person makes $10 an hour, then to us, the equivalent of a denarius is about $80. So one owed him $4,000, the other owed $40,000. You see, Simon the Pharisee would have to acknowledge the occasional sin - maybe even $4,000 worth, but for the most part, he felt like he was okay. He was "paying God back" with all his religiosity and good deeds. But this woman KNEW she was a sinner. $40,000 worth, and not a chance in the world of paying it back. But Jesus said NEITHER was able to pay. $4,000 or $40,000. We don't have the ability to pay for our sin, because the payment for sin is death.
Why the same penalty for different amounts of sin? Because from an eternal perspective, there are no different amounts:
James 2:10 ..Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
So if you're generally a nice person who is just short of perfect, you've got the same sin debt as a mass murderer. There are no shades of gray - only black and white. You're either a sinner or you're not. And take my word for it - you're a sinner.
Rom. 3:10 ...There is none righteous, not even one...
If you're not in the same place as this woman, if when you go to the house where Jesus is, you're not weeping and worshipping, then the problem is obvious and very solvable. You don't love much because you haven't been forgiven much.
Now don't get me wrong - you don't need to go out and commit bunches of horrible sins to be forgiven much - all you've gotta do is begin to acknowledge how much sin you already commit. Spurgeon said, "The more a believer looks within, the more he discovers reasons for divine wrath, and the less he believes in his own personal merit."
Isa. 64:6 ...All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment...
Rom. 14:23 ...Whatever is not from faith is sin.
As you tune in more to your own sinfulness, you will be more acknowledging of God's forgiveness. And your love for Him will naturally and supernaturally increase. Go to where He is, weep over your sin, and worship because He's forgiven all your sin. "If we have but a clearer sense that our sins deserve the deepest hell, that Christ suffered what we ought to have suffered in order to redeem us from our iniquities, we should not be such coldhearted creatures as we are." (Spurgeon)
8:1-3 Contributing to the Ministry
Those who were following Jesus were contributing to the ministry. The Jews that followed Him were already tithing to the temple - this was above and beyond their tithes. And still, have you ever noticed that Jesus never had to do a fundraiser for new sanctuary carpet? These people were supporting the work of the ministry out of the abundance that Christ had worked in their hearts. It was their way of worshipping Him. And where God was guiding, God was providing.
The same should hold true of any church or ministry. Paul lived on the contributions of others supporting his ministry - it was the people's way to worship Christ, by supporting those who had dedicated their lives to the gospel. But when the ministry in Corinth was brand new, Paul didn't hold a fundraising telethon - he worked as a tentmaker. And he did that until the ministry was in a place that he could minister full time.
Supporting a ministry with your money is Biblical and worshipful. But that church or ministry begging and pleading is definitely not.
8:4-8 The parable of the soils
Now if you just nonchalantly slide your hands up either side of your neck, you'll come to your ears. If you then give them each a little tug, it will be God's way of reminding you that this parable is for you to hear and understand.
Parables are often difficult to understand. They need to be studied, compared with Scripture, cross-referenced for expositional constancy.... But the thing I love about this parable is that we don't need to interpret it - Jesus is going to give us the full explanation of its meaning.
8:9-10 Not seeing or understanding
When the disciples question Jesus about it, He explains to them that He is now teaching in parables to separate those who wish to agree and those who wish to argue. You see, by speaking in parables, Jesus was making it impossible to hear for those who didn't want to hear. He was making it impossible to see for those who didn't want to see.
But to those who wish to know, they only have to ask. As a believer in Jesus Christ, anything in the Bible is yours for the understanding. Where did the Bible come from?
2Pet. 1:21 ...Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
So simply ask the One who wrote it in the first place.
1Cor. 2:12-16 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Jesus told His disciples,
Luke 8:10 ..."To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God..."
In other words, "Since you're asking, I'm telling..."
8:11-15 Explanation of the parable
The seed is the Word of God. And the hearts of people who heard the word of God are like four different types of soil.
There are hearts that are so hard, the seed never gets in, and the devil snatches it away
The heart of rocky soil receives the Word with joy - they have an emotional experience, but usually with no conviction of sin - they've heard only a feel-good gospel. And an emotional, feel-good faith has no motivation for sinking deep roots. For a while they believe, but in time of trials and temptation the fall away. People, it is so important for us to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God.
Ps. 1:1-3 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
If you've come to Christ, it is imparitive that you now be planted next to the Water of the Word - reading your Bible, being in the Bible studies - understanding what's ahead for you. If you've got no roots, you're going to get blown away.
Now a third danger - the thorns. Thorns are your cares and concerns - worries, riches, pleasures. If you get wrapped up, you'll get choked out. As a Christian, your priorities have to change now. It isn't about the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or the house you live in anymore - that stuff is all so pointless, because this world is on a collision course with doomsday - everything you're concerned with getting and buying is going to be burned up in fire. John wrote:
1John 2:15-16 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
Which am I?
Each of us must look at our own lives, and and ask ourselves: Which of the four soils is my heart? Have I totally disregarded the Word of God? Am I dying on the vine because I've never been rooted and grounded in the Word? Have I allowed my worries, cares, and desires choke out the fruitfulness I should have in my Christian life? If your heart's soil hasn't been good - allow the Lord to break it up. To fertilize it and bring forth fruit.
©2006 Ron Daniel - Any distribution not for profit is permitted
All Scripture (unless otherwise indicated) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE
©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.