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morning friends how are you doing today my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re watching online you’re at home it’s great to have you here today on this memorial day last week we celebrated baptisms for those of you that were with us and what a joy to see so many people make that decision to say there is a life change that has happened in me to jump not jump into a tank maybe not but to step into they did come out like wet dogs some of them I got soaking wet and I didn’t mind at all uh so if you would like you were inspired by that and you say I’ve never done adult baptism and you would love to jump in email dan at south fellowship I’d love to cause him a chunk of problems with emails to reply to we’ll be doing another baptism service in october and I’d just love to make it more of a a couple of times a year rhythm where we see people celebrating that moment of life change so that was last week this week I

feel like I became a little bit more coloradan just a little bit more I went on my first mountain biking adventure so I am going to become one of these people that has a bike more expensive than their car hanging off the back of their car which seems wise and and it was a joy to get out there and the reason I mention it is this one of the things I love is how relationships form over activities and that’s especially true for guys so during this summer season one of the things we’re going to be talking about is our groups of circles we’re going to be inviting you to take things that you love deep passions it could be something like mountain biking it could be something like playing golf it could be something like studying the bible together it could be almost anything and say we’d love to invite you to get together with people that are interested

in the same things and so we’ll be doing some signups but we’re still looking for people to run some of those groups we have quite a few already and I’m super excited to bring down the average age of the mountain biking group but also bring down the average ability to mountain bike of the mountain biking group and I’m sure I’ll cause some some humor uh with crashes and wipeouts and whatever but so far I’ve been looked after well so if you’d like to jump into that we’re in a series that we started last week called build a bigger table we’ll be walking through the books luke and acts together if you’re unfamiliar with the bible that’s fine luke is one of the gospels the biographies of Jesus life and acts is a book written by the same author about the early church movement now this same author with those two books combined wrote more of the book of the bible than the new testament anyway than any other author we get so much of

our knowledge of first testament of second testament history from him we get so much of our knowledge of the Jesus movement the thing that he started from him and so we’re going to spend a few months going through those two books one after another and in luke we’re going to focus not on the whole book but we’re going to pick out every time Jesus sits at a table I gave you this story last week about my parents table that I experienced growing up it always had room for somebody else to be added to it they had this great big piece of wood that they would fit over the top of the table that it would expand and make room for more and I just long to see a Jesus people that says our goal is to make room for more is to expand that table to reach out to people that don’t know that haven’t heard the story to share what we have with those people around us and so this is where the idea of build a bigger table came from there’s this

idea that when Jesus sits at the table sometimes he sits with friends sometimes with enemies sometimes with people he knows well sometimes with people he’s never met before but so often it is a transformer experience my prayer for us as a group of people is that we would become people like him that we would invite people to our table and we would see life change happen at that table so our takeaway from week one was is your table available the the gathering spaces that you have whether it’s on your deck whether it’s in your actual living in your dining area is it available for other people to gather at and this week we’re going to push it a little bit further we’re going to read a challenging passage expect to go away feeling like Jesus has maybe messed with you just a little bit asked some deep questions of you we’re in luke chapter 7 verse 36 for those of you that have a paper bible or electronic bible that you like to

sort of reference I’m just going to read this passage you can follow along it won’t come up on the screen yet but we’ll go back through it bit by bit and we’ll get to grips with what Jesus has to say when one of the pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him he went to the pharisees house and reclined at the table a woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the pharisee’s house so she came 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 when the pharisee would 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 Jesus answered him simon I have something to tell you tell me teacher he said two women two people owned money to a

certain money lender one owed him five hundred dinari 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 has the bigger debt forgiven you had judged correctly Jesus said and then he turned towards 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 has 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 pour 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 the other guests began to say amongst themselves who is this who even forgives

sins Jesus said to the woman your faith has saved you go in peace let us pray God as we open this book that you have given us we believe that you breathed on it it comes alive it speaks to us it challenges us and changes us we believe that you come into this space where we are you afflict the comfortable and you comfort the afflicted wherever we are in those groups of people may you do the work in us that you long to do may we listen for your voice those outside of the church new to the church those long-term members whoever we are challenge us and change us you breathed on this book and it came alive would you breathe on us and make us alive in new ways amen so to catch you up with where we’ve been we started with luke and I wanted to give you an introduction to just what is the heartbeat of this book what does luke say that is the heartbeat of Jesus ministry and what we see is this the spirit of the lord is on me because

he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor in luke’s understanding Jesus came to bring good news to a group of people that were not used to good news that there was very little good to say about luke and acts as these two books together there’s two giant surprises two big surprises that luke is wrestling with the first surprise is this it’s that Jesus died Jesus wasn’t supposed to die in most first century jewish understanding a messiah figure a savior should come and he should set the world to rights but he should do it through action not through death death is a defeat it was a surprise when Jesus died and an even bigger surprise when he came back to life again so luke wrestles with that first surprise Jesus died and then he came back to life what what does that mean but but this second surprise that is consistent throughout this luke acts text it’s the inclusion of the outsider we saw last week how Jesus took

those on the margins a tax collector called levi he pulls him in and says levi you’re going to be part of God’s story the margins the edges of the story are going to move closer to the center Jesus reaches out to those that find themselves on the fringes find themselves left out and pulls them in and that was a surprise when we get to acts it will be an even bigger surprise to a jewish community when the gentiles start getting included as well and the question might be phrased just how big is this table going to get just how big will it get we’ll wrestle with that with today’s text as we watch as Jesus interacts with someone who maybe is a level a step beyond where levi was maybe is even more unacceptable than we might say that levi was Jesus will constantly reach out to this group of people this idea of the poor the downtrodden those who find themselves on the margins Jesus will begin to pull them in and so to catch you up to speed

after this passage that we looked at last week Jesus has gone around and he has taught some of the 12 disciples that he has pulled in each of them kind of ragtag don’t fit not really acceptable he takes them and he teaches them on a plane he teaches them many of the things that we would describe as his way so we talk about living in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus here at south that’s exactly what he teaches them this is how I go about doing everyday life and you get to copy me in doing that he teaches them how to pray they say Jesus teach us to pray we don’t know we we’re still learning and he teaches them word by word how to pray and what we find is constantly he’s doing things amongst this group called the poor and in luke chapter 7 verse 11 what we read is this soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called nain now to understand the significance of nade is to understand that it is insignificant name is iowa it’s

iowa it’s a place that you drive through on the way to somewhere else I actually enjoy driving through iowa to be fair it reminded me of of england it’s got those wavy hills it was far better than nebraska which uh there’s nothing good to say about him and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him Jesus stops in a place that people didn’t usually stop at for any purpose other than resting or getting food it was a pilgrim journey on the way to jerusalem people would go from some of these larger towns and cities and stop there just as a breather let me get some some nutrients and then I’ll continue my journey perhaps we might say this that when Jesus said I came for the poor it’s not just the micro level of the individuals perhaps he came for those cities those towns that were left out of the general sort of sway of things as well and he lands in this place not just briefly but for some time and during his time there an

incredible event happens there is a funeral procession again not so incredible that there will be a funeral but what happens at the funeral is incredible this is Jesus interaction with the funeral experience he went up and touched the beer they were carrying him on the bearer stood still he said young man I say to you get up the dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother hold on to that phrase that phrase is important they were all filled with ore and praised God a great prophet has appeared amongst us they said God has come to help his people this news about Jesus spread throughout judea and the surrounding country as it usually does when somebody comes back from the dead this story would have thrown people back to another an older story there’s a story in a historical book called first kings if you like references 17 23 is your reference your address elijah an old famous prophet picked up the

child another dead child and carried him down from the room into the house he gave him back to his mother and said look your son is alive this language symmetry would have been unmistakable to a first century person who understood the history of the bible this is someone doing the same things elijah did for a nation a group of people that had said for 400 years there has been no voice of God there has been no presence of God everything else has gone wrong there’s this sort of idea that wow things are starting to turn we’re about to turn this sucker around we’re going to get this thing going this is exciting a prophet is on the scene again this is good news and so understandably when things like this are happening religious people are interested so we read in the start of our text today luke 7 36 when one of the pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him he went to the pharisees house and he reclined at the table Jesus

is a expected guest who this pharisee and we’ll look a little bit later about what exactly a pharisee is this pharisee finds Jesus to be acceptable he is excited to pull Jesus into his house he wants to ask him some questions there’s going to be this somewhat of a debate maybe luke follows this greek style called symposia so usually there’s a dinner there’s a sitting down at a table and then there’s a healthy hearty discussion that takes place afterwards and that’s exactly the framework we’ll see here Jesus is an expected guest and then there’s a twist and let me approach that twist by asking you this have you ever had an unexpected guest have you ever had someone who’s just turned up arrived on the doorstep and said in essence feed me find me a place to stay have you ever had that experience a few months ago a friend sent me a text it was just a screenshot of a map and it just looked like this the red dot is my house and the white

dot works well apparently there’s a chipotle there but I didn’t know really what else and I was left with this question wait are you guys in town because these friends live in michigan and let me add these are just the sort of people that would turn up unexplained unexpected and think that was really funny just to just appear on the doorstep so I’m left like wait are you guys are you guys here now usually that would just be exciting I a couple of really close friends I would be excited to have them stay but it just so happened we had somebody else staying that weekend as well so I was suddenly trapped in this moment of where do we put everybody if they turn up who do we ask to go and stay somewhere else some very close friends that we’ve spent a lot of time with over the last few years a guy on the other hand that was one of my groomsmen at my wedding he now lives in houston these two groups of people and I’m trying

to figure out who do I call and say do you want to put someone up for a couple of nights who do I reject who do I push away maybe you’ve had that experience of an unexpected guest but it becomes even more complicated when the unexpected guest doesn’t behave as you would want a guest to behave what if someone that’s unexpected who you have a history with then behaves in all of the ways you would expect this person to behave what if they live down to your worst expectations of what good behavior look like what if it’s the kind of crazy uncle that you feel like you have to keep inviting to weddings but he just keeps drinking too much wine and dancing on table shirtless and it’s just getting embarrassing and every time you throw out an olive branch like could we have some respectable behavior yet time and time again this person does exactly what you expect them to do this is what I would suggest is happening as

we get into the roots of this passage because this pharisee invites Jesus but Jesus brings with him all of the things that we find that Jesus continues wonderfully to bring a woman in that town who lived a sinful life the assumption there was that she’d had multiple husbands that she was an adulteress or that she was a prostitute 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 so I just want to look for a second at the juxtaposition of pharisee and this woman that appears because that’s really relevant for how we understand the story the pharisees had one of four approaches to how they dealt with this big problem in jewish society the romans had invaded they had taken over everything many jewish people

were asking questions like how do we fix how do we fix the big problem how do we address the roman problem so when we asked the question who were these pharisees their whole approach kind of gives us the the details the lowdown on exactly who they are so one group the sadducees their philosophy their policy on the romans was well let’s appease them let’s try not to let them bother us too much we get the temple we have this place that we get to do worship so long as we get that well we’re good right and if we mess with the romans too much then they’ll come in in force they’ll really take over and and that’s not going to be good for anybody so let’s just let’s just hold off it’s like the the british approach to hitler early on in the second world war didn’t work well for us didn’t work well for them so that’s the sadducees then you’ve got the zealots these are some of Jesus group and there’s some pretty strong evidence that some of these guys were hoping Jesus would go down this line let’s gather some guys let’s get

some swords and we’ll fix the problem ourselves let’s go and and we’re going to go and make this sort of we’re going to get rid of this problem sadducees zealots different approaches another group called the essenes their their approach was we got to get out of here let’s go and hide somewhere let’s go into the desert we’ll pray a lot we’ll ask that God would come fix the situation somehow but we’re gonna keep ourselves very distinct very separate we’re gonna back up and then finally this fourth group the pharisees well they wanted to resist they want they wanted to make sure they were standing up to the romans on some level but not in an obvious way not with swords not with any sort of practical approach they were like if we just obey the law really really well if we make sure we’re a group of people that are keeping that right way of living well God’s going to bring his presence back and that will fix the problem that’s that general approach live the right life show that your lives have changed live life change

and then God will come and he’ll be faithful if we do all of this then God will eventually do his part so as a good pharisee your approach was this stay away from people that aren’t doing that keep yourself separate make sure you live the right kind of life God will ultimately well he’ll be faithful and so when a pharisee invites Jesus he’s saying Jesus I think you think the same way as me you seem to live the right kind of life I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen come to dinner because you fit and then someone turns up who doesn’t fit and does this 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 now to us we’ve got a little bit westernized we read this passage basically with 2 000 years of history and what we might read is this wow she did a really nice thing for Jesus isn’t that wonderful she came into the room and

she she put perfume on his feet and this is this is just her showing her emotion and it’s genuine and all those kind of things that would not be a first century reaction to a first century jewish person who’s trying to live the right kind of life what they see is this here is a woman that we know lives a sinful life and she’s now here doing all the things I would expect her to do for a woman to let her hair down in public in the first century was an equivalent today of going around topless or something like that it’s hard to put in terms for you just how stark that would have been you did not let your hair down in public to use it to rub and wipe and massage someone’s feet was certainly ambiguous to a guy watching this he’s like what is going on here not only has she turned up but she’s turned up and she’s acting like this this is her living down to my low expectations this is what I would have expected however and this is why we do not

invite people like her into good and common society her actions are at best ambiguous but actually the the most obvious reading to a first century religious leader would be I cannot believe she would come and do all of these things she is infecting a good honest religious party with all of the things she is bringing here he would have been outraged furious especially because for the most part wealthy people that would throw dinner parties they were lived kind of in in public life most of the dinner dining space would open out into public area and so everybody that walked past would see this woman doing these things at his house and as a pharisee he’s like I just can’t have that there is something that she’s doing that is going to impact me and you understand this because you have lived the idea of infection for the last year and some number of months I read this list of all the things that originally we were told we

were supposed to do to make sure we didn’t get covered in our house so some of you might be still doing these things that’s fine some of you I know you you never did these things and that’s fine as well you gotta know your people you rebels this was the original idea right to make sure that the shopping doesn’t do damage to the house wipe down the cart commit to what you are buying don’t put anything back on the shelf plan what you will buy for at least two weeks of food to minimize to reduce minimize exposure once you leave the store throw away gloves and sanitize your hands before you touch the door handle of your car and enter your car if possible do not bring your groceries straight into the house consider holding non-perishable items in your garage breezeway porch or car for three days that’s a lot of time prepare a table or counter to receive grocery items by sanitizing it with a standard disinfectant and divide the

table or counter space into the dirty side and to the clean side so some of you did this and it’s fine if you did this some of you are still doing it it’s fine if you’re still doing it some of you thought it was ridiculous and it’s fine if you thought it was ridiculous but regardless we have been told what that language of infection is don’t bring this thing into your home take lysol and wipe down bags of chips for the first time in your life because that will make you safer it’s been a different world that we have lived in and if it works great and again not the whole point pharisees would have understood the language of infection well to give you another way of understanding this I brought you my laundry um so now my wife was very clear did not make it look like I’m bad at doing laundry so I was like I don’t even know what that sermon would look like my wife’s terrible at doing laundry like this that would not have looked good for me at all

but I brought you some laundry what I did is I just picked up random shirts to help you understand how a pharisee’s mind would have worked in this dinner party arrangement so I just have a bunch here this one is one that I got for free and it’s actually a woman’s extra large and my wife insists it doesn’t fit me and she’s probably accurate um that that might be clean this is one that somebody sent me uh mistakenly it’s an extra extra large a size that doesn’t exist in england and doesn’t fit me uh either this is a shirt that I wore to a wedding yesterday I got to go to a burundi wedding or a couple that come to the church it was a ton of fun I was the only one that gave a speech in english the rest was all in burundi and I have never enjoyed not understanding as much as I enjoyed it it was fascinating it was wonderful it’s like this experience of pure joy and I have no clue what was said I said to joe afterwards what did they

say and they said he said they just repeated you they just said what you said in burundi I was like I’m quite flattered really so that one was worn yesterday this one was the one I wore cycling and managed to make its way onto the floor probably one of the kids I would never do something like that I always put stuff in the laundry basket and make sure it’s in the right place but that one definitely isn’t clean um so don’t go near that one a workout shirt somewhere in here I haven’t worked out much since I’ve been in colorado uh but that one’s pretty clean uh this one I wore when I got back from the wedding I just changed clothes briefly probably fairly clean and this one definitely hasn’t been worn and this one definitely hasn’t been worn and then just for good measure there’s a south fellowship shirt you can have one of these and show it off to the world around you you know just a little marketing plug that one is clean now

depending on your comfort level you would say different things about these shirts I would go to them and sniff them and make sure that they were somewhat clean before maybe putting them back in a drawer or sending them to the laundry basket I did not suggest that you would come and sniff them because that would be dangerous but there are some that are clean and can be worn again there are some that are dirty and need to be washed yet if you have the right level of sensitivity you might say something like this by nature of mingling in with the dirty shirts the clean shirts are now no longer clean by nature of what the infection looks like you have had those shirts sitting in the same basket you need to wash them all where I to give you these shirts and say hey here’s some free shirts I would definitely recommend that you wash them all before wearing them just out of chance that I actually wore them for longer than I

remember but but this pile of clean and unclean to a certain person with the right level of hygiene would say no there’s not clean and unclean they are just all unclean that the infection has already happened they have mixed with the unclean shirts now that tells you a chunk about what you need to know chunk about what you need to know about pharisees in the first century jewish world mixing together was like infection you did not mix with people that were unclean that weren’t keeping all the rules because that impacted you that affected you that infected you so when simon the pharisee says 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 he can’t be a prophet in simon’s mind because if he was he would know who she was and she would know the effect that was having on him and the effect that was having on simon and the effect that was having

on the whole gathering simon believes he knows her story and and her story affects Jesus you might even say you might even go as far as to say her story infects Jesus everything that she brings to that room changes the experience of the room Jesus is infected by her simon is infected by her unless he does the right thing and make sure to push her away very publicly and very clearly and say I do not tolerate her I do not accept her she is unacceptable is exactly what is going on in this passage when the pharisee 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 Jesus answered him simon I have something to tell you tell me teacher he said there’s some delightful irony going on there because simon is now convinced Jesus cannot be a prophet and yet Jesus is being one right in front of him he knows exactly what simon is thinking

and he’s about to reveal the whole thing to him Jesus will function exactly as a prophet even though simon is not prepared for that fact tell me teacher he said and Jesus moves into his favorite form of teaching of parable two people owed money to a certain money lender juan owed him 500 dinari and the other 50 to give you sort of a frame of reference one day’s wages were about a dinar I so you’re talking about 500 days of pay median salary in colorado right now what 70 80 000 you’re talking about a chunk of money now which of them neither of them had the money to pay 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 a parable in its nature is designed to mess with you it’s designed to present a bunch of characters and then ask you to answer where do I fit into this the hebrew word for

parable the hebrew version of parable is is a story form called marshall so there’s a famous one in the old testament a guy called nathan a king acts out acts in a way that wasn’t deemed acceptable a prophet turns up at his doorstep and tells him a story a certain man in a town had many sheep was very rich some unexpected guest comes to stay with him and in that moment he says I need to feed him he goes down to his neighbor steals the neighbor’s one small lamb that he owns and treats like a child kills it feeds his guest and nathan says what do we do what what’s the outworking of this david responds well we kill the man this is unacceptable behavior and nathan in this beautiful twist looks at david and says well you’re the man it’s you the story asks you to wrestle and place yourself within the story’s context it leaves you in that tension and if you don’t do the hard work you can walk away and say that was a pretty cute story that

somebody told I kind of liked it but if you wrestle with it it can become deeply challenging simon seems to have the intellect to be able to understand the story and understand what’s proper just like david but he hasn’t yet made the jump as to where he fits in with this story and Jesus is going to give him a helping hand he turned towards the woman Jesus turned towards the woman 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 Jesus takes her un her ambiguous actions and reads them in the best light possible while at the same time saying to simon think about how you treated me because simon has referred to Jesus as teacher he’s

used all of these titles that suggest he honors Jesus and yet his actions have said he does the very opposite common courtesy would say that when a guest arrived at your door you washed their feet or provided a servant to do it the roads were dusty they were dirty there was all sorts of things on the road and when you turned up at a dinner party you reclined on a sofa an eight your feet were right up against somebody else’s chest and and to think that you would want to sit there for hour after hour with feet covered in all sorts of things from the street nobody wanted to do that and yet this is what simon has asked of Jesus he’s insulted him while calling him teacher there would be a tradition of giving a kiss to a guest of honor and yet simon hasn’t done this and oil was a sign of anointing sign of authority something you might do for an important person a teacher simon has done none of these things he said he honors Jesus and

he has allowed Jesus to be dishonored while claiming to honor Jesus simon has broken fundamental rules of social interaction he’s been deeply insulting and I love the humility of Jesus and the story that Jesus has sat through this and not said a word about it until this point Jesus has let this gone unobserved he’s simply taken the treatment that he received what an incredible statement of his character his ability to operate in the world do you see this woman is the question that he asks simon and the truth is simon doesn’t see her at least not really he thinks he sees certain things about a character he thinks that he knows a story but the truth is simon only sees her surface story and has missed how Jesus affects her story there is some story some backstory that luke doesn’t give us insight to at some point it seems that Jesus and this woman have interacted and we’re only left to imagine exactly what that interaction looked

like but we see this idea therefore I tell you how many sins have been forgiven what we are seeing here is the outworking of an experience of Jesus that has left her incredibly changed the only thing that makes her actions unambiguous is the tears the other things could be misread in the with the wrong heart the wrong attitude and yet the tears speak to something about her life that has changed deeply there is some encounter with Jesus that has left uh on this new road this new discovery and we might imagine that it looked something like this passage in john chapter eight it’s probably not the same woman geography’s fairly off they’re in different places but we read in john chapter 8 verse 3 the teachers of the religion of the law and the pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery they made a stand before the group they humiliated her in front of everybody by making a stand up and explaining just what she’d done and said to

Jesus teacher this woman was caught in the act of adultery in the law of moses in the law moses commanded us to stone such a woman now what do you say Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger when they kept on questioning him he straightened up and said to them let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her again he stooped down and wrote on the ground at this those who heard began to go away one at a time the older ones first until only Jesus was left with the woman still standing there Jesus straightened up and asked a woman where are they has no one condemned you no one sir she said then neither do I condemn you Jesus declared go now and leave your life of sin this is a story that may well be similar to this woman’s experience of Jesus but something has happened that says to a new life is possible she has received forgiveness and now she is

outpouring her experience of that forgiveness to the the Jesus that has offered it it connects back right to simon the parable simon’s received those who have been forgiven much they love much she is right in that moment I have been forgiven so much but at this table at this gathering there is a fundamental disagreement at the table as to who gets to experience God’s presence remember each of those groups we talked about they’re all talking about how do we bring God’s presence back to this nation how do we make things good again how do we get rid of the romans and everyone has different ideas about how it happens but there’s a fundamental disagreement as to who gets to experience God’s presence and what they need to do to experience it simon believes God’s presence follows life change Jesus seems to suggest that God’s presence can and should and that’s the wrong precede um no it’s not life change I

messed up one of the slides somewhere there’s this idea that Jesus says the presence happens first there’s some experience of God that you were invited into and that will change everything and yet simon says just the opposite and I wonder in the western church how do we approach this I would suggest that often we develop this idea that says this I would like to see you behave in a particular way and when I see your behavior looking in a particular way when I see you following a list of rules well then I’ll be willing to accept that you believe what you say you believe about Jesus and the way that the world works and finally when I’m convinced that you believe what you believe well then you get to belong then the doors open and there’s a place at the table for you that seems to be how simon operated and that’s how I would suggest a chunk of the church operates and yet it seems Jesus operated just the opposite way to Jesus you got

to belong you’ve got to sit at the table first and in sitting with him and learning from him in experiencing him something happened you became to believe in this Jesus who was just almost too good to be true who spoke words of life who ultimately would go to death and resurrection and in being with him something changed about what you believed and only after your beliefs changed did your behavior change we want to see particular actions come first and yet to Jesus it was just the opposite we want to see behave believe and then belong and yet Jesus was comfortable with belong and then believe and then behave last of all then Jesus said to her your sins are forgiven this is really his words he’s really speaking these words not for her she has already heard this he’s really speaking it for the group of people that are listening she is acceptable she has been forgiven she has been pulled back into proper society not because she

has done anything to deserve it but simply because the God of the universe has chosen to forgive her because he is good she is fine acceptable good all of those different things she is clean in the language of the shirts simply because he has said that of her she’s done nothing to deserve it just like you and I Jesus believes news stories happen at the table simon believes news stories precede not proceed precede the table it’s all a matter of where you think the action happens first does it happen with you or does it happen with God so here’s the difficult question the classic parable question for us to embrace which character do you identify with which character do you identify with perhaps you identify with a woman before she experiences Jesus perhaps you would own up to a life that seems kind of broken at the moment perhaps you would say I’ve been deeply successful I’ve have all these good things to talk about

and yet I feel like there’s something missing there’s something that I keep chasing after maybe there’s some sort of part of your story like what what’s the answer to this what’s next you’re invited into this table not because of anything that you have done simply because the God of the universe loves you and came for you and died for you and rose again he invites you into his story maybe you identify with the woman after her encounter with Jesus maybe you talk about this deep love that you have for him maybe there’s this experience of wow I have been forgiven so much but you’re wrestling with how you’re treated by those that seem like the insiders maybe there’s still a way that you feel like you don’t fit that your character isn’t quite acceptable that the suspicion based on some of your history maybe you’re struggling to find a seat at the table and the message for you seems to be that no you are welcome in here this

table is for you but I wonder if the challenge point for many of us is that we don’t at times identify more with simon I wonder if we start off identifying with this unnamed woman and yet so often broken sinners that find Jesus turn quickly into pharisees when we start to find that other people maybe don’t deserve a place at the table maybe we find reasons that they shouldn’t get a second chance and a fifth chance and a ninth chance maybe the grace of God seems like it should run out at some point maybe we start off like her the woman maybe we end up like pharisees I know I’ve wrestled with that tension in my own art who is acceptable here do you believe the right things is your theology correct all of those different things and yet Jesus sits at this table and seems fairly unconcerned with that he seems to invite in those that find themselves on the fringes the truth is we don’t always get to pick the parable we’re living

but we get to pick who we are in the parable is it the woman is it simon the pharisee and maybe the stretch for us is this maybe the challenge for us is this how do we get to go out into our everyday lives and not reflect those characters but reflect Jesus how do we get to play Jesus part in this parable that sees the table as this place where people might find acceptance might find belonging might come to believe in who Jesus is and might come to see life change happen maybe that’s the challenge point for us maybe we need to drop some of our language of infection of dirty of unclean of who fits and maybe we need to invite those into our tables into our spaces that don’t find themselves in the center of the story that find themselves on the margins my wife and I had this somewhat hilarious encounter some years ago we were vacationing in california and we ended up staying in malibu for the night we found an airbnb it

was a beautiful place it got you a couple of pictures here is this spanish-style villa with this beautiful rock pool and so we went off into the mountains and the couple that we stayed with seemed intriguing the lady said in her bio 70 years old mainly retired I just ride horses now my husband’s 75 he mainly writes and and that’s how we live our lives up in the mountains in malibu and so turned out she was english and we got there she made me a delightful english cup of tea and we we got to talking about different things and a husband who had been sick came downstairs and and he sat down with us at the table and I said so sue says you’re you’re a writer yep I was like okay um have you written anything recently yep just finished a project and I’m a little bit confused and I’m a question ask her by nature in case you haven’t noticed so I’m like hold on a second every other writer I know I know a few different writers once you get

them started talking about their books they never shut up like they literally go on about them forever and ever and here’s a writer that won’t talk about his writing um and and I’m trying to put this delicately turns out he wrote things that were designed for adults and not for children and that he had the biggest network of these writings and pictures and different things in the country and so we’re left with this awkward moment of oh my goodness what are we doing in what what is this place I think automatically and natural reaction goes to infection what’s going to happen to me for being here like a lightning bolt’s going to hit me on the road on the way down this this is like this den of sin that we’ve ended up in and what is the result that comes out of this that’s the pharisee response right I think the real reaction was supposed to be what effect could be had here because the the Jesus story says this you are made in God’s image and

that in coming to know Jesus and walking into relationship with him the spirit of God lives in you that wherever you go you bring life and you bring new stories and new possibilities and wherever you go that is true it doesn’t matter if it’s this weird palatial house in malibu with a couple of people that definitely find themselves on the margins of society the truth is whatever you wherever you go you take light and you take life and that is who you are made to be whatever table you sit at you are not infected you get to effect change you get to change the narrative and bring new stories so my final question for this for us as we move into a time of worship are you willing to look underneath the surface story and see new stories at your table who will you invite into the spaces that you have will it be people that are like you or will it be people that wrestle with their own brokenness who are trying different stories who have so

much history that they’re carrying so much baggage that they don’t know if they can ever belong will you invite in people that have tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and faired will you invite in those that don’t fit in nice spaces will you allow God to continue to use your table to bring about new stories in this world let’s pray