Sorry for the great delay in posts. Hopefully life will become a little less busy and this will allow me to post more articles in the future.
My Sermon from January 9th, 2016, This is part II of the series. Most likely not going to post part I. It was designed for a specific audience while this sermon was more general.
Matthew 15:8 These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
It was a chance meeting. Jeff happened to be at this event because work had sent you there to see if there was something you could learn. It was one of those training things that companies often send their employs to. Jeff was about 15 minutes early, He picked up your material and found a seat in the third row from the front.
The packet he received had these words. Do Not Open until Instructed to.
Jeff, being Jeff opened the packed and started looking at the material. It was a few moments later when three women, obviously from the same company cam and sat at his table. Jeff thought they must be from the same company for they were all laughing and seemed to know each other. They were loud and obnoxious enough that Jeff considered moving to another seat. It was then Jeff hears the instructor getting after him for opening the material before instructed to.
Quickly Jeff asks the instructor for forgiveness and explain that he is sometimes a bit of a rebel and often curious and so this is why he opened the packed.
The exchange between Jeff and the instructor brings more laughter from the three women seated next to Jeff which only makes him feel all the more embarrassed.
It is at that point with the woman sitting next to Jeff leans over and while still laughing says. “Guess you started the class off on the wrong foot. “
Before Jeff can pick up his things, to move further back in the class the instructor begins by asking everybody to introduce themselves and tell everyone a little bit about themselves.
What the instructor asks next makes Jeff wish he had never signed up for the class. The instructor says, I want everyone on the end of the rows to turn to the person next to them to turn to them. This is the person you will be pared with for the rest of the class.
Under his breath Jeff says, this will be great fun for she is still laughing at me. And before Jeff even finishes the thought he hears her say, I am sorry we were laughing at you. That wasn’t fair or very nice of us. Will you forgive me.
At lunch time Jeff finds yourself sitting at the table with Sally and her friends. Jeff is amazed at what a wonderful time he has talking with them and before class had ended Jeff and Sally exchange phone numbers.
It’s a couple of days later when Jeff gives Sally a call and they decide to meet up at one of the local hot spots for dinner.
Jeff discovers that Sally lives about a half hour from his house and that she is a very successful business person and active in her local church. Jeff is also active in his local church. They find they have a lot in common and have fun swapping ministry stories over dinner and before you they know it the evening is over and they both wish it wasn’t. Before going your separate ways, Jeff and Sally decide to meet up again.
A romance begins to bloom and before long our love struck couple is calling each other daily and spending time together as often as their busy schedules allow.
Jeff’s friends are amazed that this self-professed bachelor for life has taken such an interest in Sally and they eagerly await meeting Sally.
A six-week romance turns into six months and then into a year. Jeff has learned some interesting things about Sally and likewise, Sally has gained much knowledge about Jeff.
Jeff being wise and wanting to understand the type of person Sally is, has over the months planned interesting things for them to do. Kind of a how does Sally react in this circumstance or under these conditions type of tests. And to his surprise she has passed all his test with flying color. After dating for a year, he decides it’s time to get serious and really define the relationship and if Sally is willing, he wants to marry her.
Sally has been expecting this and hoping beyond all hope that she has finally met Mr. Right. She too feels she has learned all there is to know about Jeff and so when Jeff asks her the question, Will You Marry me? She eagerly says yes.
They sit down, look at the calendar set the date, invite the relatives and friends, stand before the minister and both say I do.
The service is over and when the reception finally ends, instead of leaving on their Honeymoon, they give each other a big hug, a kiss and then both return to their separate homes.
They continue to get together on a regular bases and each claims to be married and say they intimately know each other, but the truth is they only have a knowledge of each other without ever really truly getting to know each other on an intimate level.
As all married couples know, you really don’t know the other person until you have to live with that person.
Really truly one could say of Jeff and Sally that they knew each other, honored each other with what they said about each other, but their hearts were not really into it.
Perhaps the relationship between Jeff and Sally is like many Christians.
Perhaps their relationship is even like the Pharisees of old, for many Christians have gained great knowledge of God, but they have never surrendered their hearts to God.
Many of the religious leaders at the time Christ lived on earth had plenty of knowledge about God, but they didn’t really know God. This is what separates fans from followers. Like Jeff and Sally, they had a knowledge of each other but they didn’t have an intimate knowledge or understanding of each other.
Dr. Luke the New Testament Author and Historian describes this so well in Luke chapter 7 where we find in verse 36 that one of the Pharisees has asked Jesus to eat with him. In-fact, he has invited Jesus to a party and Jesus is the honored guest.
Simon the Pharisee had been sick with Leprosy. And my I remind us all that when the Bible speak of Leprosy there is a double meaning to the word. Yes it is a physical deices which is a terribly infections dieses. Leaving its victims shut out from the rest of humanity, an outcast of society to die a slow and horrible death.
But there is a spiritual application for Leprosy as well. Sin is like Leprosy. Sin leaves death and destruction in its wake. It disfigures those it infects, and makes us numb to the truths of God and thus we become burned by the effects of sin until we are hardly recognizable for what we were before we became infected. We should also remember that because of this Leprosy called sin we are also outcasts from the rest of the Universe and if it wasn’t for the fact that Christ gave his life for our life, we as a planet would be doomed to eternal destruction.
Simon the Pharisee had been sick with leprosy and Jesus has healed him. And to show his appreciation, Simon extended an invitation to Jesus. An invitation to come to his house and be the guest of honor at the party he was giving in honor of Christ.
If you or I had been invited to this party, we could expect the following courtesy to be extended to us. If you also were a Pharisee and coming to this party, the host would have greeted you with a kiss on the cheek. But if you were of higher social rank than the host then you, he would have received you by kissing you on the hand.
Proper etiquette also involved the washing of feet, which was considered mandatory before meals. If you truly wanted to honor the guest, then you would do it yourself. But if you didn’t do it yourself, then at the very least, you would have your servant wash the feet of your honored guest. Or at the very least he would give you a bowl of water for his guests to wash their own feet.
Now if you really wanted to show great respect for your guest and then it was customary to anointing them with oil on their head. The oil didn’t have to be expensive, even simple olive oil would do.
It is also important for us to understand a little about Simon the Pharisee. Simon had spent his life studying the scripture. By the time he was 12, he had memorized the first 12 books of the Bible and by the time he was 15 he had memorized the entire old testament. And, he also would have memorized the 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. Yet strangely, he doesn’t realize it is the Messiah that is reclining at the table with him. For you see Jesus reclined on Simons rights while Lazarus, the man Christ had recently raised from the dead was reclining to the left of Simon.
You see Lazarus was also the nephew of Simon and Lazarus was also being honored that evening for having been raised from the dead by Jesus.
So although Simon had great knowledge about the Bible and about Jesus coming as the Messiah, and he had firsthand knowledge of the power of Christ which should have impressed on him who Jesus truly was, and yet, even with all this knowledge Simon the Pharisee really didn’t know Jesus.
You see, fans have a tendency of confusing their knowledge of something or someone for intimacy. That was the problem with Jeff and Sally. They knew about each other, spent time together and yet never really knew each other. In church we’ve often gotten this confused. We establish systems of learning that result in knowledge of but not necessarily intimacy with Christ.
I know many Christians that love coming together to study their Bibles and fill out some sort of work book together, hoping to gain more knowledge of Jesus. From the pulpit our sermons are often filled with knowledge but not intimacy about Christ. Our Sabbath School Classes, Pathfinders and VBS programs are all designed to give us a knowledge about God to the point where we can quickly answer the Bible question before us at the latest Bible Bowl.
Perhaps you like me spent many years confusing my knowledge about Jesus for intimacy with Jesus and so like Simon the Pharisee we invite Jesus to the party to thank Him for healing us from the sickness of sin, but we like Simon who failed to extend to Jesus the common courtesies of fellowship ever really and intimately getting to know Jesus ourselves.
Matthew 15:8, You see, Simon is one that honored Jesus with their lips, but their hearts (their actions) are far from Jesus.
Genesis chapter 4 verse 1 says and Adam knew Eve his wife. In the Bible when we see the word Knew or Know it is described in intimacy that takes place between a husband and wife. One Hebrew Bible scholar defines the word knew this way. Adam knew Eve his wife means more than just knowledge of but “A mingling of souls.”
It is clear that Jeff and Sally had not really truly mingled their souls. They continued to speak kindly of one another and continued to spend time together, but they never really became more than just a fan of one another.
David the great king of Israel penned these words in Psalms 139. “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it. NLT
David is using the same word in Psalms 139 as was used to describe the relationship between Adam and Eve. It is the same word and describes the same connection that God wants to have with you and me, a mingling of his soul with our soul.
Our historian and author Dr. Luke continues writing about this feast, this celebration held in honor on one that healed him and raised his nephew from the grave.
From the darkness that surrounded the court yard around the banquet table, another sinner, a great sinner watches. It was her brother that had so recently been raised from the dead. It was her sister that catered the meal that was given in honor of Jesus.
Yes this was Martha, the same Martha that had gotten after Marry for wanting to spend time at the feet of Jesus. You see, we learn best when we sit at the feet of Jesus. The greatest sermon ever spoken. A sermon spoken by Christ upon the Mount of Blessings was spoken while the people were sitting at his feet. And as Jesus had pointed out to Martha that Mary had chosen the good part and that was to sit at the feet of Jesus.
We also find Mary in 8th chapter of John we again see her at the feet of Jesus, naked and ashamed after being caught in the act of adultery. She had been rescued from a life of prostitution by Jesus. Strangely it was her uncle Simon the Pharisee that had brought her into prostitution. Christ not only lead her from a life of prostitution, he had also cast demons from her. For you see, Mary was indeed a great sinner.
But Mary believed her sins had been forgiven. Daily she yearned to be near Jesus. To be sitting at his feet and learning of Jesus.
I believe in her own way, Mary understood who Jesus really was and I believe Mary longingly desired a relationship with Christ as described in Psalms 139 and she desired to know everything possible about Jesus.
Mary realized that in Jesus’ eyes she was not just a sinner, instead she was a forgiven sinner and a beloved daughter who was held in the highest esteem by the creator of the world.
And so as the guests reclined on the couches enjoying the food and company Mary approaches from behind. She wishes to not be seen and so quietly she begins to wash the feet of Jesus. The feet that were still dirty, unwashed and uncared for by a host that truly was a fan of Jesus, but was not a follower of Jesus.
She breaks open the small container that contained spikenard and began pouring it on the feet of Jesus. Her love for Jesus overcomes her and she begins to weep as she pours the oil next upon his head.
Great tears of sorrow and joy roll down her cheeks spilling onto the forehead and feet of the Saviour of the world.
She didn’t want to be seen but like the costly spikenard that smelled so wonderful and filled the whole room with its fragrance it became apparent to all present what she was doing.
In those days’ woman always wore their hair up in public. For a woman to wear her hair down in front of a man that was not her husband was considered to be such an intimate expression that it was literally grounds for divorce. In what is probably the most tender display of affection in all of scripture she let her hair down and began to wipe the feet and head of Jesus with her hair.
The fragrance of her actions filled the room for all to see and when she let her hair down it signaled that she was willing to intermingle her soul with God’s soul and that His desires for her life would become her desires for her life.
Both had a great knowledge of Christ. Simon the Pharisee with his great knowledge gain by the countless hours of study and Mary while sitting at the feet of Jesus. Both had been forgiven much but only one became a true follower and not a fan.
Simon was content to remain a Fan. And a fan is nothing more than an enthusiastic follower who has great knowledge without ever really getting to know the person they admire. We can tell because Simon the Pharisee failed to extend the most common of courtesies, while Mary risked all. She too had a knowledge of Jesus but her knowledge was more than a knowledge of a fan for she was a true follower of Christ. Truly her actions spoke louder than words.
Is it any wonder that Christ chose on resurrection morning to visit with Mary and assure her all was well?
For many of us, we have the type of relationship that Jeff and Sally have. They are fans of each and even have a knowledge of each other. But they have never really gotten to know each other their souls have never become intertwined.
Maybe we are all Simons but I believe some here this morning that are like Mary, they have fully and completely surrendered their will and desires to Jesus.
You see, in order for Jesus to remain the sinless redeemer, He too had to surrender his will completely to His Father. He and His Father had to have an intermingling of their souls. And it is only by surrendering our will and letting our soul be intermingled with Jesus that we to can remain sinless.
So the question before each of us this morning is. Are we a fan with great knowledge of Jesus, or are we a committed follower who has intermingled our soul with that of the creator? And someday soon there will be another resurrection morning and on that mourning Jesus will be looking for those that have the intimate knowledge of Him. A true follower and not a fan.
These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
Where is your heart?