Forgiven Much

Luke 7.36-50

Folks of Jesus’ day would have assumed that the religious elite…the pious Pharisees, the lawyers, the priests, etc. loved God most. Yet Jesus here praises not a religiously astute Pharisee but a notorious sinner for her great love. The story reminds us that loving God is not self-righteous acts done to earn His favor, but gratefully accepting the free gift of salvation available through Jesus.

Jesus came to save sinful women, but He also came to save sinful Pharisees…unfortunately the Pharisees were too blind to see their need for saving. We all have a spiritual debt that we cannot pay. It doesn’t matter how long or short our list of sins, or how great or small we perceive them…what matters is that we realize we have a debt we cannot pay. No amount of “doing good things” will satisfy it, but only God’s gracious offer to forgive our debt…our sin. The good news is…Jesus has already paid our debt in full. We simply have to receive His gracious gift by faith.

So what keeps us from coming to Jesus? Sometimes it’s our labels that keep us from Jesus. As “sinner” we might feel like we are too far gone for Jesus to rescue us. But no one is so bad that Jesus can’t forgive them. Just ask folks like Paul (worst of sinners), Augustine of Hippo, John Newton…me.

As “Pharisee” we might assume we don’t need Jesus. We’re good enough. I hate to break it to you…you’re not that good.

Simon wondered if Jesus knew who and what sort of woman this is…He does. She is a woman who loves, who serves, who surrenders, who humbles herself, who worships, whose forgiven…a child of King. Her faith expressed itself in love, gratitude and devotion…how is your faith expressed?

Repentance/faith leads to forgiveness from God, which leads to affection for Jesus. No repentance/faith leads to no forgiveness, which leads to no affection for Jesus. So if you have no affection for Jesus, something’s wrong…maybe you’ve forgotten the huge debt that you’ve been forgiven. Maybe you’ve yet accepted God’s gracious offer.

Are you one who loves much or little? Do you recognize the tremendous debt you’ve been forgiven in Jesus? Is it obvious to others?

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we show how much we’ve been forgiven by our great love for God and others this week.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Failed Expectations

Luke 7.11-35

Jesus said, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Three groups are represented in our passage today…John, the people and tax collectors (those who had been baptized by John), and the Pharisees and lawyers.

John had expectations of Jesus…right expectations, but mistimed. John wrestled with seeing God’s kingdom coming through Jesus in physical/political ways (conquering the Romans) versus spiritual ways (conquering sin and Satan). And while you can’t separate the spiritual from the physical when it comes to the kingdom, the present form of the kingdom is mostly spiritual with some physical aspects. But one day, the kingdom will be both fully physical and spiritual (God’s kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven)…politically Jesus will come as conquering King…but not yet. We’re not told for sure, but we presume that John accepted Jesus’ message from the messengers.

The people and the tax collectors seemed to have come to Jesus with the only expectation of being rescued by Him. They weren’t looking for a political agenda…they were just sinners in need of repentance, and in Jesus they found the Physician who could heal them. They see Jesus for who He is.

The Pharisees and the lawyers also had expectations of Jesus…they wanted Him to conform to their rules. They wanted Him to look and act like them. They wanted Him to validate their self-righteousness. When He didn’t, they rejected Him.

Which of the 3 groups do you find yourself in? Are you like John, wrestling with your expectations of Jesus or what the Christian life is supposed to be like? Are doubts creating a crisis of faith? Do you feel like John…like you’re sitting alone in prison wondering if God even cares? Do you need to be reminded of who Jesus is and that He hasn’t forgotten you? That although it may feel like you’re losing, Jesus has already won the victory? Or are you like the Pharisees and lawyers, wanting Jesus to conform to your image rather than the other way around? Now’s the time to see Jesus for who He is…the only One who can rescue you, the only Physician who can heal you. Don’t wait…today’s the day.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we show forth the wisdom of God as we rejoice in His salvation through faith in Jesus.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Unshaken Faith

Luke 7.1-10

I wonder what Jesus thinks about our faith…do we have a faith that would cause Him to marvel, or would He say, “O you of little faith”? And if our faith is small, how do we grow it? How do we develop a faith that causes Jesus to marvel?

The centurion had a proper estimation of himself. Even though the Jewish elders promoted him as a big deal…as one who was worthy for Jesus to do a miracle for…he recognized that he wasn’t a big deal and had no right to demand or presume that Jesus owed him anything. His “I’m not worthy” didn’t come from poor self-esteem, but from a proper evaluation of who he was before God. We have to do the same. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” We have to recognize that God doesn’t owe us anything but judgment…it’s by His grace that we can become His sons and daughters, it’s by His grace that He acts benevolently toward us, it’s by His grace He gives us good gifts…

The centurion also had a correct view of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus could help…that with a word his servant could be healed. He didn’t doubt Jesus’ power or willingness to help. He simply had to ask. I think this is where we sometimes get stuck…either doubting Jesus’ ability or His willingness to help in our situation. We wouldn’t say it out loud, but many times we show by our actions or attitudes that we don’t really think that Jesus can help us…oh, sure maybe for the whole “heaven-thing” but not in our day-to-day life. And even if He could, why would He?

To have a faith that causes Jesus to marvel means that we have to believe at the most fundamental levels of our being that He can and will help us. That only comes from the Spirit’s work in our lives as we spend time with God in His Word and in prayer…that’s how He renews our hearts and minds, so that we can begin to see ourselves for who we really are and Jesus for who He really is. Only then can we come to know God as Father…a Father who delights in and gives good gifts to His children.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we exercise a faith that makes Jesus marvel this week.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster