Monday, February 11, 2019

Are You a Party Crasher?

“Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” – Luke 7:47

In 1829 two men robbed a U.S. Mail carrier train. They were both arrested and sentenced to hang on July 2, 1830. One of the men was executed on schedule—but not the second man, George Wilson. His friends had petitioned President Andrew Jackson to give him a presidential pardon, and President Jackson DID. But surprisingly, George Wilson refused the pardon.

Well, the courts didn’t know what to do, so they petitioned the Supreme Court to make a ruling. This is what Chief Justice John Marshall wrote: “A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws…. But delivery is not completed without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and we have no power in a court to force it on him.” Marshall said, in a nutshell: We can’t force the Presidential Pardon on George Wilson. If he doesn’t accept it, his sentence stands, and he must be hanged.

Not a very cheery story! But I’d like you to keep Justice Marshall’s words in mind: “Delivery is not completed without acceptance.” That not only holds true for a Presidential pardon. It also holds true for God’s grace and forgiveness. Hold on to that thought as we look at an episode in Jesus’ life from Luke 7.

Jesus had been invited to eat at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. And as Jesus was at Simon’s house, in came an uninvited guest—a party crasher. Luke 7:37 tells us that she was a woman in that town “who had lived a sinful life.” We don’t know for sure, but most likely she was a prostitute. At any rate, she wasn’t on the guest list. But she came in with a jar of perfume and stood at Jesus’ feet, weeping so much she was able to wet his feet with her tears. “Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them” (v. 38).

What was the Pharisee’s reaction to this party crasher? He thought Jesus, if he was a prophet, should know the woman was a sinner and should want nothing to do with her. But Jesus pointed out that because she had received more forgiveness, she loved Jesus more, while his respectable host had shown him little or no love at all. As Jesus put it, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (v. 47). Here are a few lessons we can take from this incident.

1) A Lesson on Acceptance: Jesus was utterly accepting of deeply flawed people, and so too should we be. Simon refused to accept this woman, but clearly Jesus did accept her. I love how Chuck Swindoll makes this point. He writes: “Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus never compromised the righteousness of God, yet he remained utterly accepting of deeply flawed people. No incident illustrates this better than the day a prostitute crashed the Pharisee’s party.” Did you catch that important phrase in the middle? Jesus “remained utterly accepting of deeply flawed people.” As Christians, we sometimes do a good job talking about God’s grace. But we often do a shoddy job sharing that grace in real life. That shouldn’t be.

2) A Lesson on Self-Awareness: Until we open our eyes and see that we are deeply flawed and admit that we desperately need God’s mercy and healing, we will never receive it.
The greatest sin I could ever commit would be to blindly think that I don’t have any sin for Jesus to forgive. As this sinful woman kept carrying on—crying and wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair and pouring more and more and more expensive oil all over his feet, Simon the Pharisee began to have second thoughts about inviting Jesus to his house. He didn’t realize that even if you sin less than the next guy, you’re STILL A SINNER! And you need to realize that. Simon the Pharisee was very good at identifying other people’s sin. But he was terrible at identifying his own sin.

3) A Lesson on Love for Jesus: The more we express our sorrow for sin and our love for Christ, the clearer evidence we have of the forgiveness of our sins. What came first, the woman’s love or the woman’s forgiveness? Did Jesus forgive her because she loved him, or did she love Jesus because he had forgiven her? Jesus told the woman in verse 50, “Your faith has saved you,” making it clear that her faith in Jesus led to his forgiveness of her many sins. And once she had experienced his amazing forgiveness, she couldn’t help but shower him with love.

Now, let me ask you: With whom do you most identify in this story—the party host or the party crasher? At first glance, you might say, “The Pharisee.” But the Pharisee was blind to his own sin, and he stubbornly refused to repent and put his faith in Jesus—much like the train robber who refused his pardon. So, he wasn’t forgiven, and therefore he had very little love for Jesus.

I hope you and I can most identify with the party crasher, because SHE was the one whose eyes were open to her own sin. SHE was the one who humbly reached out to Jesus in faith and repentance and love. And her repentance and love for Christ give crystal clear evidence that SHE was the one who was truly forgiven. I so much want us to identify with her … because I want us to be forgiven much and respond by loving Jesus much.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

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