This guy was worshipping Jesus more fearfully and fearlessly than anyone I had ever seen in my entire life. He was praising Jesus like no one else was in the room. Or, better yet, like Jesus was actually in the room. Like a complete madman. No joke, it was as if he was just set free from prison and ran straight to the service. He was clapping, dancing, shouting, hands lifted and at times crying with his face to the ground.
I turned to my husband and he nodded in agreement, “This guy gets it.”
But church, do we?
I looked around the room, to the 1,000 men and women, and saw perhaps a different type of fear than this worshipping man. I saw a fear of man. A fear that was more concerned with how we looked to our neighbors than to God. A fear more consumed with earthly opinions than our Heavenly Father’s approval.
I can assure you of this: my brother is wealthy with the same type of humility “the sinful woman” from Luke 7 had:
“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. 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.”(7:37-38, emphasis added)
What boldness! This woman was an outcast in her society. It must have taken such courage for her to approach Jesus in front of the social elite (male Pharisees).
And, per usual, the Pharisees were not havin’ it:
“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.”Luke 7:39
Jesus, of course, gives an unlikely answer:
“Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.Luke 7:40-48, emphasis added
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 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?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
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. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.””
What comes as no surprise, the Pharisees still don’t understand:
“The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”Luke 7:48-50 , emphasis added
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
That Sunday morning in 2017 made me realize that I was more like the Pharisees and less like the sinful woman.
When I “came into the house” I wasn’t pouring out a sacrificial, honest offering of worship to Jesus. Instead, I was busy thinking about what’s for lunch, how much homework I had, and which errands needed to run. I wasn’t just distracted by my schedule, but I was also busy comparing myself to other brothers and sisters in the room… “Wow, she looks so much better in me in that coat then I do… Why am I always matching someone?… Oh, that guy is super into worship today… Good for him… I’m tired… I’m not feelin’ it this morning… Good, Good Father again? Why can’t we sing something new???”
(I know. Yuck.)
But church, I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one who shows up to worship God Sunday morning with sin struggles and worldly distractions.
As we head into corporate worship this weekend let’s take a second to sincerely ask ourselves: Do we know our need to be forgiven much? And let’s spur one another on to pour out honest offerings of praise to the One who is both unbelievably gracious and worthy.