The View from Below

October 28th, 2018

David Sorn



So often we see ourselves as “above” other people. And yet, for many, that is the very thing that sucks the life right out of their spiritual life. Find out how to see the “view from below.”



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TRANSCRIPT


INTRODUCTION  

(Start with Building Timeline Reveal Sunday Slide)  

Morning.  Glad you’re here. 

Before I get into our message, let me tell you why you need to be here next Sunday. 

Starting next Sunday, we’re going to take just 2 Sundays (the 4th & the 11th), and talk about our future, our building, and what exactly it’s still going to take for us to get there.  

I want all of us, like a family, to be here together for that. 

And, also next week, for the first time ever, we’re going to reveal our goal date for when we’re aiming to break ground on our new building!

Soo…that’s exciting! Be there.  

(Lost & Found Series Slide)  

This morning we are continuing in the Book of Luke. 

And we’re going to take a look at a powerful story of Jesus forgiving a prostitute. 

And lots of times of when people read this story, they only focus on the prostitute and they miss the fact that this is really a story about contrasting TWO different people. 

A religious guy AND a forgiven prostitute. 

 (Page 839) 

(Renovation App) 

And as we read this story today, I want you to think hard about which one of these two you are more like. 

(Luke 7:36-50) – NIV

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “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.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,  and the other fifty. 42 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?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Now, at first read-through, I’m not sure who you identify with more. 

But notice a very important thing here. 

This is not a story that contrasts one person who wants to see Jesus and another who doesn’t. 

They BOTH want to see Jesus…be in his presence…and know more about Him. 

In fact, it’s the Pharisee, the religious man, who invited Jesus over to his house to learn more. 

 

 

DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO JESUS

And yet, these two people are taking very different approaches to Jesus, right? 

Simon, on the one hand, is not ready to give his whole self to Jesus. 

In fact, he’s just treating Jesus like a regular old guest. 

Simon is interested in Jesus.  He’d like to have a discussion with Jesus.  

But he’s not interested in giving his whole LIFE to Jesus. 

The woman, the prostitute, is the exact opposite. 

She’s clearly had prior experience with Jesus…she knows full well of his teaching about sin and forgiveness. 

As she walks in, Simon is probably peppering Jesus with questions, but for her, just the sight of Jesus causes her to begin to weep grateful tears. 

She kneels down, and with her tears and her hair, she begins to wipe Jesus’ feet…

Something, Simon, neglected to do. 

Then, she takes an alabaster jar of perfume and pours it on his feet. 

An alabaster jar of perfume would have been incredibly expensive. 

The Gospel writer Mark says that such a jar was worth more than a year’s wages.  

Alabaster jars of perfume were typically worn around the neck by either wealthy women, or, in this case prostitutes. 

At its bottom, there would be a bulb, and going upward, there would be a very long and skinny neck. 

At the very top there was a tiny, little opening. 

The opening was so small that only the aroma of the perfume could get out, but there was absolutely no way for the perfume to spill out. 

And a prostitute would acquire this, at great cost, well, because in those days, as you might imagine, people didn’t smell very well. 

The alabaster necklace was a…tool of the trade. 

And for this woman, her only power, her only leverage in her life had been her desirability and attractiveness. 

And yet, after hearing about Jesus and his ability to forgive (yes even her), she takes off her necklace, breaks the tool of her old life, and pours it out as offering to Jesus.  

C’mon, right!

Where do you need to do that?  

Break the tool of your old life and surrender? 

What’s getting in the way of you taking the next step to follow Jesus? 

This is so different from Simon…

He’s not interacting with Jesus that way at all

He’s interested in Jesus…otherwise he wouldn’t have invited him over…

But you can almost see him rolling his eyes at this woman. 

 

 

THE PATH TO UNBRIDLED JOY

And maybe you can identify with Simon more than you can with the woman.  

Maybe you’re a follower of Jesus…or maybe you’re just “kind of” interested in Him…

But your heart isn’t exactly overflowing w/ love for God

You don’t find it easy to love people who mess up a lot. 

It seems like you’re more and more critical all the time

And it’s hard for you to even want to attend church (or read your Bible) unless all the stars align (and you’re not tired, and not sick, and have nothing else going on) 

So if you feel like your spiritual life has drifted that way, and you feel more like a Simon than the woman overwhelmed with gratitude for Jesus…

What’s happened? What’s the difference? 

Well, let’s look hard at the Word of God here.  

What’s the difference between Simon and the Woman?  

The difference is their viewpoint: 

Simon is looking at everyone from above.  

His view is that he, in a sense, is even above Jesus, right?

He invites Jesus over to his house…and treats him just like any other guest (doesn’t wash his feet, greet him properly) 

Simon thinks he’s above the woman. 

Simon thinks he has less debt to pay. 

But the woman…hers, is the view from below…a view of humility. 

She looks UP to Jesus as Lord

She doesn’t see herself as above Simon or any of the religious people in that room, but below…because of her sin

She feels that she has an incredible amount of debt to pay. 

Hers is the view from below. 

And Jesus is teaching us, ALL OF US, in the Word today…that if you want come alive again spiritually…you need have a view from below, not above.  

Did you see how he explained this? 

(Luke 7:41-43) – NIV

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,  and the other fifty. 42 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?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

And then, in remarking about the woman, Jesus says: 

(Luke 7:47) – NIV

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 

So one person owes 50 denarii (a denarius is about a day’s wages)…and another owes 500 to the lender (that’s about 75 grand in modern-day money). 

But the lender forgives both of their debts. 

Jesus is teaching that the one who loves God the most is the one who most deeply understands how much they’ve sinned, and thus at the same time, how much they’ve been forgiven. 

Like the woman…who identifies with the person whose debt was 500…

So she clearly…loves a lot!

But the Christian who feels like they’ve only been forgiven a little, often has a hard time getting very excited about their faith.   

And there’s a lot of people who feel like this. 

I’d be a rich man if I had a nickel for every time someone who grew up in a Christian home and on the outside, has appeared to live a moral life, has said to me, “Uh, I wish I had your testimony,” 

They’re saying, “I wish I had this testimony where I was opposed to Jesus, and led a sinful life, and then experienced his grace” instead of “I grew up in the church, suffered through listening to DC Talk, and could only see the opposite sex during “visiting Hours” at college  

And there’s a whole lot of you in the room where that’s your story. 

And I always say, A) No, you don’t want my testimony…why would you want any part of your life apart from Christ?  Clearly you don’t know what that’s like.  

And B) Think about the pride that’s embedded in that statement. 

I get that someone would want this sort of “old life of sin to new life of transformation” type story. 

But the underlying disappointment so many of you have for growing up in the faith is that Jesus didn’t have to “do that much” in your life. 

And so thus, because he didn’t have to do “that much,” (maybe forgive you that much), it’s harder for you to love him.  

But is that true? That he didn’t have to do as much? 

I find that people who grow up in the church are often guilty of categorizing sin into categories that benefit them. 

So, for example, when long-term Christians say, “I was born in a Christian home, and I’ve always been a good Christian,” that’s Simon Speech” 

That’s: “Jesus, if you knew what kind of woman she is…” 

It’s categorization. 

You’re saying, ‘These are the sins that are bad… getting drunk, sex before marriage, adultery, divorce…you’ve got a whole list from your youth group days probably. 

And it’s not that those things aren’t sin. 

Clearly the woman in this story believes they are…why else was she so thankful to be forgiven???

But sometimes, people in the church overly focus on those sins so they don’t have to think very hard about the serious nature of their own sin. 

But remember, if you want to come alive again spiritually, you need to take the view from below, not above (other people) 

Every passionate Christ-follower has come to terms with just how heinous their sin is in God’s sight. 

And it’s the fact that Jesus would forgive it anyway, that fuels their spiritual passion. 

The great Apostle Paul, AFTER he becomes a Christian, still refers to himself as the “chief of sinners” 

I submit to you…if you’ve been a Christian your whole life, and your spiritual life is kind of “blah” at the moment, you probably don’t understand just how grievous and serious your sin is in God’s eyes.   

So let’s, even though this might be a scary process, let’s walk through that. 

God is our father, so think of it from a parent’s perspective. 

Let me give you two examples of kids doing the wrong thing. 

Sometimes I’ll catch my kids doing something wrong, but they don’t know it’s wrong. 

We have one of those refrigerator/freezers where the freezer is a pull-out drawer on the bottom, and the other day, I caught one of my sons pulling out the drawer, and then standing on it to reach something at the top of the fridge. 

When I saw him do it, and I said, “HEY!  You’re going break the freezer!” 

And he looked at me with sad, and rather shocked eyes, and said, “Oh!  I didn’t know that was bad.” 

And I said, “Buddy, it’s okay.  I’m not really mad.  It’s fine, because you didn’t know…but now you know. J” 

But let me give you another example. 

What if you’ve told your kids 100 times that they aren’t to (pick anything) watch TV when they get home from school. 

And yet, you step out of the living room for a few minutes, and on the way back, you see them, glancing around…looking for you…and then sneaking over to the TV and turning it on.  

Now, you’re mad, right? 

So equate this to the spiritual life. 

Why is it then…that those who have grown up as believers their whole life, have decided that they have little debt to pay back…when they, in fact, are like the ones turning the TV on? 

They’re the ones who have sinned WITH THE FULL KNOWLEDGE of what was right and what was wrong.  

Unlike the non-Christian who was out partying until the morning light…but in ignorance…

The Christian KNEW their sins were wrong…and did it anyway. 

My friend, be wary of creating any system in your mind that makes you out to being less of a sinner than anyone else in this room. 

It’s not only NOT true…

But the “view from above” will also suck the joy right out of your spiritual life. 

Because when you convince yourself that Jesus didn’t have to forgive you of very much, you won’t love much

Look harder at Jesus’ illustration. 

Even though the debt of the woman seems greater to Simon, the reality is, their predicament is identical. 

Neither of them can pay their debt.  

Whether you’re witnessing to the nicest person in your neighborhood or someone on death row, the fact of the matter is, if that person hasn’t given their life to Jesus, they have debt that hasn’t been paid…and they have no way of paying it on their own. 

I’ve often heard it explained this way: 

If a poisonous spider comes in and bites you in your sleep so that you never wake up and you die… 

OR if a lion comes in and mauls you, and dismembers you, and decapitates you… 

Which of those two people is more dead?  

That’s what Jesus is trying to say. 

One of them is “pretty” dead and the other one is ugly dead, but they’re both dead. 

Never forget the cost of your sin. 

Ever. 

That you were dead. DEAD.  

Never forget that you had a debt to pay.   

The world wants you to wake up, and look in the mirror, and say, “I’m great, I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m funny…I’m good.” 

The world wants you to trick yourself into forgetting your bad parts and tell you that you have worth because of your good.  

But if you think that way…it will numb you to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The view from above is always numbing to our spirituality. 

Why?  

Because it deceives you into thinking that you are great!  

That you don’t need Jesus that much!  

He didn’t even have to do that much for you!

Look from below again. 

It’s quite counter-intuitive to us, but it’s right. 

Instead of looking from above, look in that same mirror, and take a long, ugly look at yourself (start recalling the things you’ve said…that you’ve done…

…and then see…just how big your sin is, how deep your depravity is, and how widespread your rebellion against God is…

And then, when you feel just about worthless…

Realize that despite all of your junk…God STILL felt you had worth.

not because of what you did or didn’t do, but because he made you.   

Realize that Jesus, in fact, took the same long look at our heinous and despicable list of sins…and said, “Yep, that’s the one I love.  And that list of sins, I’ll erase it.  I’ll cancel the debt they owe me.” 

And He did!

 

 

THE GOSPEL

Think about what the Bible is saying from a banking perspective: If a lender cancels your debt of 75 grand…that debt doesn’t disappear into thin air. 

No, the lender eats that money…they pay for it…they suffer for the loss.  

The love of Jesus for you is deep my friend. 

See, it’s not just that he looked at your long list of rebellious sins and said, “Okay, I can let that go…” 

The Bible says in Colossians 2 that he “Took on your debt”…and nailed it to the cross…

But those nails went through HIS body. 

He paid the punishment for your debt of sin…which is why the debt is forgiven.  

And Jesus is calling all types of people to Him. 

If you’re like Simon…he’s calling you. 

He’s willing to come over and have dinner with people like Simon too. 

If you’ve been telling yourself your whole life that you’re a good person because you’re not like so-and-so, and you’ll be good enough to go to heaven…

He died for you too. 

You’ll never make it there by your own good deeds…because you can’t pay your debt…can’t pay for your sin. 

But He can. 

If you’re like the woman…he’s calling you too. 

I’m telling you, you cannot outsin the grace of God. 

I don’t care if you’ve drank yourself to sleep 1,000 times, cheated, been divorced 5 times, had an abortion, pick anything you like…you cannot outsin the grace of God. 

There’s nothing you can do that God isn’t willing to forgive…if you ASK Him to! 

And THAT is good news. 

That’s how the woman heard it!

She had probably years earlier decided, just like many do today, that she was already in too deep, and she’d never do enough good to outweigh the bad she had already done. 

So you can imagine her joy when she hears that Jesus is willing to take her debt, her sin, for her, and forgive her. 

What does he tell her? 

He says, “It’s your FAITH that saves you” 

Not your deeds. 

That’s the Gospel. That’s good news.  It’s incredible news! 

And listen, if you’ve never understood that about Jesus before, you can be forgiven today!

All it takes is faith. 

All it takes is you saying “If that’s who you are, and you died for me, then I want to be forgiven, and follow you…to start a relationship with you” 

One where you can talk to Him and know his love. 

And for those of you that want to make that decision today, I want to give you an opportunity to start that relationship with Him right now. 

I want this to be a special moment between you and God, so let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes

If that’s you…and you do want to tell God for the first time today that you believe God sent his son for you…

That He can forgive you. 

That you can go to heaven forever…by believing he died in your place.  

If you want to surrender your life to Him this morning…

If you want to make that decision to be forgiven this morning… in a minute…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are. 

It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “God, I believe you came down for me, and starting today…I will follow you!

This is how you can be forgiven, go to heaven, and have a relationship with God…it’s by making this decision. 

NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!).  This is about you and God.  

So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you and you’ve never done this before.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him for the first time, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.  (you can stay standing for a minute as others join you)

If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you.  That means…it’s TIME.   

If God himself is prompting you to do something right now, don’t disobey that. 

Stand up.  God is talking to you! 

If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?

This is not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.  

So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me

IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.  

So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.  

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.  

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.  

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.   

 

As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment   

I need you to do one more thing for me. 

It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.  

You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe in any scenario, that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, one of our leaders is going to pray, but right before he does that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.   

I’m going to go out there with you…and I want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life. 

Also, if you feel like today was the day that you too did, in your heart, surrender your life to Jesus, but you just didn’t want to stand up…

Come out in the hallway with us too, just sneak out while people have their eyes closed

I promise you all will be able to sneak right back into the service & back into your seats in just a few moments. 

All right, one of our leaders is going to pray

But for now, would you please had out there with me.  

Go ahead.  We can all go together.


Copyright: David Sorn

Renovation Church in Blaine, MN


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