Thursday, July 21, 2016

Because He Lives: The Invitation

  (Part of a series sharing my devotional thoughts from almost two decades ago. For the back story & links to other posts, see the first post in the series.)

Suppose God gave a party and the whole world came. Millions vie to touch Him, to talk to Him. With whom do you imagine He would choose to spend His time . . . Billy Graham, perhaps, or the Pope? Maybe a selection of world leaders for a very high-level strategy meeting?
Or ... the teenage prostitute hooked on drugs, who cries herself to sleep every night? The young woman who slips away in the dark so she won’t have to face the man who took her to a motel from the bar the night before? The angry middle-aged woman no one understands, who is bitter toward men and mad at the world after her husband has abused her for years? Who would capture His attention?
2000 years ago, while on earth, God did accept an invitation. Luke 7:36-50 records Jesus’ attendance at the home of Simon the Pharisee -- a highly religious man. Yet it is not Simon who captures Jesus’ heart:
“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him.And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table. And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume.

“Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he replied, ‘Say it, Teacher.’

“‘A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’

“And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’

“And He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’ And those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’ And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”

Jesus’ heart was captured not by the Pharisee who knew the Law and considered himself righteous, but who had not shown love. Instead, He was touched by this woman who hadn’t been invited but who had come just because she heard Jesus would be there. She simply showered Him with love. She didn’t try to explain herself to Him ... she just loved Him.
Jesus didn’t deny her status as a sinner when He perceived Simon’s thoughts. He didn’t make excuses for her sin or try to rationalize it. He didn’t even tolerate it. He simply forgave her sins, and told her to go in peace. Jesus knew she was a sinner when she approached Him, but as she poured out her love to Him, she found acceptance and forgiveness.
Jesus’ response to this woman’s sin and her love is the same as His response to you today. He won’t try to justify or explain your sins ... but He will forgive them, and give you peace, when you come to Him with your whole heart.

In Matt. 11:28, Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Accepting this wonderful invitation will usher Jesus into your heart and you can pour out your love upon Him and receive His love, forgiveness, and peace ... a peace that will last for eternity.

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