Knowing Him? Or Really Knowing Him?
How well do you know someone? I mean how well do you really know someone? When we first married we lived in a little complex of houses. At the time I was serving a small church that was growing –it had an old parsonage that had been rented for a while – it was in need of some repairs (snow would blow in and pile up under the outlets and then melt). There was an older woman that came by when we were planting a garden. She came to check us out and complain about the neighbor’s parties; they were a little annoying on Saturday nights. We tried to change the subject and invited her to come over for supper – and she said “is that a Hollywood invitation or a real one?” We asked, “What is a Hollywood invitation?” She said that it is an invitation with no intention of following through. We did specifically invite her to an open house we had and a couple other invitations. She never accepted. We never did get to know her.
How do you get know someone?
In Luke 7, Jesus is invited over for a Hollywood invitation dinner by Simon a Pharisee. Most likely Simon extended the invitation after Jesus finished teaching. This was before covered dished dinners. Simon, having the visiting rabbi over for a meal was proper etiquette and with the religious leaders wanting the scoop on this Jesus it was a good time to check Him out. Jesus should have been considered the guest of honor for this meal, but it quickly becomes apparent that Simon was spending time with Jesus out of duty instead of a desire to honor him. Listen as Carol reads the scripture.
Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)
36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and 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 men 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 canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "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--for she loved much. But he who 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."
- Here is the story behind the story. There were certain things that Simon did not do that were customary. And they would be considered a slam against most rabbis. And most people of importance would have not tolerated the lack of courtesy.
- There were certain rules of courtesy. If the guest was of equal social rank the host would greet him with kiss on the cheek
- If they were of higher rank they would greet the guest by kissing the hand.
- To neglect the kiss of greeting was to treat the person as a nobody.
- It would be like going into a person’s house and they don’t get up or say “hi,” they just keep watching TV without moving.
- Middle East customs involved the washing of feet. The washing of feet was to be done before a person was to eat. Most times this would be done by a servant. If you truly wanted to honor a person the host would wash the person’s feet. And if they were a very special guest they would anoint the person’s head with olive oil.
- When Jesus comes to Simon’s house none of these things were done. This wasn’t an accidental oversight. This was quite deliberate. Jesus was ignored and insulted almost as if they were wanting to see what he would do.
- Don’t miss the irony here. Simon has studied the Scripture all of his life. He had committed to memory the Torah, Psalms and the Prophets. He knew about the prophecies concerning the Messiah and Jesus the Messiah was sitting across the table from Jesus.
- Simon was ignoring the obvious. He didn’t believe this traveling teacher was anything but a pain in the neck.
- What would you have done if you were Simon? He was an important leader who was bombarded with teachings in opposition to Jesus. No matter what he had been taught – he was just rude.
- Here is the real question behind the Hollywood dinner – “Do You Just Know About Jesus, or Do You Really Know Him?”
- We confuse knowing about someone and really knowing someone. We have established systems of learning that result in knowledge, but not necessarily intimacy.
- We have Bible studies with commentaries.
- We have on screen outlines for sermons
- We have Sunday School – emphasizing school
- We try to have biblical knowledge but we may not know who we are studying.
- Don’t get me wrong – I believe that studying is important – it is a good pursuit. We need to learn God’s Word. The problem isn’t knowledge. The problem can be that you can know a lot about the person but not have a relationship with the person.
- You see I think we can get all hung up on what we know and miss having a genuine relationship with Jesus
- Let me ask you a couple knowledge questions:
- How many books are in the Bible, not counting the Apocrypha? 66
- What is the first book and the last book of the Bible?
- Who thinks they can say the books in order?
- Say them with me: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations (I always forget this one), Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 &2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2 & 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.
- Did you make it? Did you get them right? Congratulations if you did? If I didn’t have the list in front of me I am not sure that I would been able to do it.
- Is that the test for entrance into the kingdom of heaven? I really don’t think that matters to Jesus.
- On judgment day do you think that Jesus is going to grade you on whether you can say the books of the Bible in one breath. Those that can will get to go to the “A” entrance. To those that say them in the correct order in more than one breath get a token to redeem at a later date if there is room.
- And those that don’t get it right get to go down the steps on the left and they have to keep going.
- I am certain that is not the process.
- John Wesley had all the facts – he was a brilliant scholar but something was missing. He began to discover what was missing on his trip back from America where he failed as a missionary and at a Bible Study at Aldersgate Street. He was listening to the introduction to a commentary on Romans and his “heart was strangely warmed.”
- Wesley entered into a relationship with Jesus – he knew for the first time Jesus in an intimate way.
- In Genesis 4:1 it tells us that Adam knew / had relations with his wife Eve. The word knew in the NKJV and relations in NASB comes from the Hebrew word YADA. The word YADA means literally to know completely and to be completely known. What the NIV tells us is that the YADA moment is a moment in which we have a complete intimate connection.
- So when Jesus tells us that we need to have a spiritual birth – He tells us that we must be born again – Jesus is referring to us having a spiritual YADA. We are to have a loving intimate relationship with Christ. We are to know Him spiritually.
- Let’s go back to Simon the Pharisees house and look at the YADA moment. The Pharisee thought he knew all about Jesus but didn’t know Him. His heart was far from Him. But there comes to the dinner an unannounced and uninvited woman. The Scripture tells us this lady was living a sinful life. What does it mean that she was living a sinful life?
- We visited NYC one time when Josh was about 9mths old and my roommate from college and his wife set up a baby sitter for Josh and they took us to the play Dream Girls and out to eat. It was a great evening as we were walking back to our car a “woman of the night” was selling her trade on the street. And I mentioned something to Bill about having a prostitute on Broadway – Mary Beth asked “where?”
- Bill told us in the car that it was rather obvious in downtown NYC – they came out at night.
- Here is the thing I would have liked to ask Simon, “how did you know that she was a sinful woman?” It is the question that always is there when I re-read the woman who was caught in adultery. How did she get caught?
- Were the religious leaders looking in her window? Or were they one of her clients?
- This woman of the night crashes the party – Jesus knew what she was; yet He let her touch Him. Maybe she had heard Jesus preach earlier in the day and had experienced a new relationship with God through Christ. She had something happen to her. She wanted to thank Him. She wanted to give herself to Him.
- Picture this Jesus is reclining at the table – they didn’t sit like us. His feet were pointing a way from the table and she washes His feet with her tears and let’s her hair down so she dry His feet. His dirty, dusty feet she cleans with her tears and hair.
- Then she anoints Jesus feet with oil – that would really feel good after all the walking Jesus had done. Luke 7:44-46 (NLT) 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
- Who was the real disciple here? Simon, the religious leader – who had the knowledge hasn’t a clue – he’s got the head knowledge but the woman of sin intimately expressed her love for Jesus was the real disciple.
Here is the question we need to ask ourselves: ‘Who am I like in this story?”
Are you having a love affair with Christ?
If not why aren’t you?
Now is the time.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.