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Fan or Follower?

Luke 7:36-47

by Brian Campbell

August 6, 2023

Thank you for checking out this sermon. If you are moved by what you hear and are in the Boston area, consider visiting in person!

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Thanks for being patient as we, uh, we have a theater company in here this next couple weeks. This is why the lights are down, and, uh, we can't have a full band up here. But it's a great way to reach out to the community and the community to see our church. So, bear with us there the next couple weeks. But you know what's sad about the summer is it comes to an end. And, uh, if you live in New England, it's still alive and well for one more month because kids don't go back to school until September.

But we've had some different people visiting this or that are going back home, uh, or where they're going to school, like Naomi and Riley are going back to Pepperdine. Uh, we've had people visiting us that are going back to their different places. And we also have new people that just moved in this weekend, like the Joneses. Uh, I see the Joneses, yeah, they're right here. Yeah, they were here. Well, we'll properly welcome them later, but it has moved in this week into the region. There's so many different transitions going on, but it's good to be together as family.

I want to show a little video clip right here, some good news that happened last week of Nielsen and his son JoJo getting baptized. It was so cool to see Nelson get baptized and turn around and baptize his teenage son. Uh, God is moving in all generations of our church. I hope you feel that, and you can certainly see that there. Uh, ladies, you have a special midweek here Wednesday night at 7:15. Christine is going to be doing a study for you about how to have a deeper dive into the Psalms and prayer and reflection. That's going to be a great time together with the ladies. And, uh, you are probably already slightly disappointed because I told you Kevin Miller would be preaching this morning, and he's not because he is sick. Unfortunately, him and his whole household is sick, and he thought it'd be better not to share it with all of us, which we are grateful for. But then I had to scramble a little bit to get things together this morning.

But go ahead, turn your Bibles to Luke chapter 7, and we're gonna look at one of my favorite interactions, uh, in the Gospels between Jesus and a Pharisee and a sinful woman. And I think in this interaction, you really get to see the heart that God doesn't want and the heart God does want. And I love the clear interactions when you get to see what does God truly desire and how can I live like that and be like that? And he goes, we read this story together this morning, we'll all be challenged and inspired by Jesus in this interaction. Luke chapter seven, you're gonna need to turn on your phone and or open up a Bible, but let's dive into it together.

Verse 36: When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with them, he went to the Pharisee's 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 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. 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." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed 500 denarii, the other 50. Neither of them had enough 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 a bigger debt to be forgiven." Jesus said, "You have judged correctly." They turned toward the woman and said, "Simon, do you see this woman? I came to 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 will be forgiven as her great love has shown. Whoever's been forgiven little loves little." What a crazy, challenging interaction!

Jesus invited over for dinner by a Pharisee, and the Pharisee Simon, he has them into his house, but he breaks some customary rules. When a guest enters your house in Jewish culture, you're supposed to greet him with a kiss, a kiss on the cheek or at the bare minimum, a kiss on the hand. The Pharisee does neither of those things. Another custom when you had a guest come in is that you'd wash their feet. Either you personally would wash their feet or you'd have your servant wash their feet. Jesus' feet went unwashed, and it was customary that when you had a distinguished guest, a guest of honor, which Jesus certainly was, that you would put expensive oil on his head as a sign of favor and gratitude. Jesus enters the house, and none of those things happen. And Jesus isn't complaining; he's sitting at the table, reclining, eating the food.

And, uh, an unexpected guest enters: this woman who's clearly broken and distraught and embarrassing herself before Jesus. And he gets so uncomfortable in it that he calls it out, whether he said this mumbling or out loud or Jesus read his mind, that if you knew who this woman was, you would want her out of this house. And you're letting her touch, kiss, and let her tears fall on your feet. Who are you? Do you not see who she is? This is embarrassing. He was so uncomfortable with it. But Jesus tells him the story to paint a picture, there's one person owed twenty thousand dollars, and another person who owed two hundred thousand dollars, neither of them could pay it back, and the moneylender, the Chase Bank, decided to erase the debt of both. He says, "Who do you think is going to be more grateful? Who do you think is going to love him more?"

It's the easy answer, right? The one who's been forgiven more will love more, will be more grateful. It just makes this point that the one who's more in touch with their sin and their need for God will actually love God more, will have a more intimate personal connection, which will lead to loving God more. The issue that the Pharisee has is he couldn't see himself. He saw himself as a good guy, a very consistent church girl. I mean, he's a Pharisee, he's holding to the strictest sect of the Jewish community, he's upholding the law. He thought he was good, that he earned the right to just

be sitting with Jesus. He thought he was good and could not see his utter need for Jesus's grace and mercy and forgiveness. And Jesus makes this point: you won't ever be close to God the way you want to be, he certainly won't be close to me, God in the flesh, until you see your great need for forgiveness.

A Pharisee was like a fan on the sideline bleachers, one to cheer on, one to encourage, one to be around, but didn't want to get in the field. And here's this woman who everyone knows is so jacked up, so broken, who's willing to be a follower, willing to humble herself, embarrass herself just to express love and need for Jesus. The sinful woman's not afraid to embarrass herself, not afraid to expose herself, not afraid to lower herself to wash his feet with her tears. I mean, guys, can you imagine that? Tears, this wasn't like a two-minute process; this was several minutes, everyone watching, you, the awkwardness in the room, the tension in the room as each tear falls off the cheek as she uses her hair. I mean, this moment was intimate, this moment was embarrassing, it was everything mixed between. And then she's kissing his feet, she uses this expensive perfume to anoint him with the honor he deserves.

She chose to be close to Jesus; she chose to humble herself before she decided she wanted to be a follower, she wanted to be where he's at, not just be around him but be with him. And because of her awareness and her brokenness, she clearly saw her need for Jesus's grace and forgiveness. And Jesus says, "You, woman, will love much because you see how much you've been forgiven of." And there's this interesting thing, like, if being more in touch with my need for God doesn't produce guilt, it produces love, it produces gratitude, it produces joy, that because she chose the route of humility, not only is she going to love much, her faith will be much, her life will be much because she chose to love God much.

She depicts the heart that wins and moves the heart of God, followers of Jesus, true Christians. In order to love Jesus much, to be in touch with that you've been forgiven much, this passage demands us to ask a few questions of ourselves. Do you see the differences between the Pharisee and the sinful woman, between the fan and between the follower, and which one do you find yourself being more like this morning? Who do you see yourself being more like?

That's why, you know, fans are entitled, right? I paid for my ticket; I could shout; I could do whatever I want; invite him over for dinner. I'm entitled. Followers are indebted in love. Fans like to spectate; followers like to serve. Fans do the minimum; followers do the maximum. Fans are not in need; followers are needy. Fans stay clean; followers get dirty. Who have you been more like, the Pharisee or the woman, fan of Jesus or follower of Jesus? I don't know if you've ever showed up somewhere expecting to be a fan and had to become a player.

This happened to me once. I had this English professor who used to play professional rugby, and, uh, he was still connected to the team. The professional rugby team would play, and then afterwards, all the substitutes would play, and then the old guys who used to play professional rugby would play. He invited me out; he got me tickets to go watch the professional game, to watch the B-side team and then the old guys play. He said there's a chance that old guys are going to get hurt, you may play or not play. I'm like, oh, that sounds like fun. I remember watching the professional rugby game, I'm like, these guys are incredible.

I'm watching the B-side guys, right? The substitutes play. You know, some people started getting hurt, and they look at me and said, "You, you want to try out, right?" I'm like, "Yeah." He said, "Get in the game." They throw me a blood-stained jersey, some dude gives out some crinkled muddied-up pants from his bag and handed them to me and said, "Get in the game." And I'm like, "Oh, man, I can't get in the game." "What's up, man?" "Get in the game."

And what's crazy about it is I never played with this team, and they put me in a position I had never been in before. They put me in that hooker, which is not a dirty position, but is the position of this sport, and I started playing the game, and it was fun. I was doing well; I was playing with these professional athletes, and I'm going down to pick up a loose ball, and this guy boots the ball, misses it, but hits my thumb. My thumb is shattered, no longer bends, just kind of dangling right, but this is my chance, I'm playing with professional rugby players.

Like, I cannot get out of this game. And so I kept playing; as I kept playing, my thumb kept swelling up like a sausage. And I don't know if you've ever had a finger swell so much that blood is the only choice, it starts to come out of your fingernails, but that's what's happening. And I kept playing, and I played so well, they said, "Once you play with the old guys." And I'm like, "Sure, I'll play with the old guys." I played with the old guys, and then one guy looked at my thumb and said, "You should probably leave now." I go again, X-ray; you look at the X-ray, it just doesn't even look like a thumb, doesn't look right.

I showed up that day as a fan; I got asked to be a player. I don't know how you showed up this morning; did you show up just to be a fan of Jesus or did you show up to be a follower of Jesus? I don't know how you've been acting spiritually; maybe you've been acting more like a fan than you've been acting more like a follower. But how would you live this week differently if you chose to leave today a follower? If you put on the blood-stained jersey, some muddied-up shorts, and ran out onto the pitch to a position you've never played before and just gave it your best, what would you do differently this week?

Would you read your Bible each day? Would you share your faith? Would you serve someone? Would you have someone over for a meal in your house? Would you listen and comfort someone who's hurting? Would you speak the truth and love to someone? Would you join a Bible study and help someone become a true Christian? I mean, what would you do if you really put on the jersey and got out on the field? Because I don't know if you've noticed this yet, but true Christianity, there's only like real followers, and everything else is not authentic.

Either you're a disciple or you're not; either you're living that way, there's not like a B-side team, and there's not even an old person's team in Christianity. It's all one team, old, young, everyone

's on the starting team, old, young, everyone's on the starting team, and gifts are needed, abilities needed, dreams are needed, talents are needed. It's really tempting to want to stay on the sideline or just be a sub, but we play a game where everyone gets dirty, everyone gets a bit bloody, everyone follows Jesus.

And the second question you have to ask yourself is, do you love much or do you love little right now? Do you love much or do you love little right now? If you've been more of a fan, this question is a little bit easier to answer. You're probably loving little right now. If you relate more to the follower and this humbling and of the woman, you find yourself loving much.

You know, the problem with being a Christian for a long time, being a disciple for a long time, sometimes you can become self-righteous, you start to see yourself more like the Pharisee. Like, "Hey, I'm following the strictest part of the New Testament. I signed up for discipleship, I signed up for lordship, I go to midweek, small group, D-group, church, maybe even Brian's fun thing after church. I'm good." And you kind of get away from your desperate need for your debt to just be forgiven. It's not like a one-time exchange of gratitude; it's every day we need His precious grace and mercy. But self-righteousness steals our ability to love much.

And when self-righteousness gets in there, the power of God's grace and mercy dwindles in our lives. It's ironic; sometimes we can look back at our most fired-up days of discipleship, a lot of them are mostly associates who are early days. Why? It's probably the time you loved the most, you were most in touch with what you've just been forgiven of. Well, you just received what you've just had, and so you're loving much. The biggest challenge of discipleship is continuing to love much, to remember that you've been forgiven much, and that should well up a richness of grace and mercy and joy and gratitude that gets expressed by loving much.

Self-righteousness can steal that. You know what else steals that is a guilty soul that's not what Jesus wants either, some guilt-ridden person. Guilty souls are just Pharisees too; it's another form of self-righteousness because guilt is not properly motivated. Someone to love much, guilt turns into a checklist Christian, a Christian doing my duties. Jesus doesn't want that; He wants you to love much.

He wants us to be aware of our sin; He wants us to know our shortcomings, our character flaws, our transgressions, the way we've hurt God, the way we've hurt other people, the ways we could be more like Jesus. He wants us to be aware of that; He wants us to talk about them with each other, confess to each other, confess to God. He wants us to be aware of it not so it produces guilt but because it will lead to loving much. I tell you what, when you know that you're sinful and that you have a God that's incredibly merciful and graceful and forgiving, that makes you love much. The more you see your sin, the more you see God's grace and mercy, the more you see God's grace and mercy, the more joyful and grateful you are, more joyful and grateful you are, and much more you will love.

Yo, if you've not become a true Christian yet, have faith, repent of your sins, be baptized for forgiveness of your sins, study the Bible, dive in, like, figure out what does it mean to become a true follower of Jesus. Don't waste time; don't let days, months go by. Figure this out because forgiveness, this, that being cleared, Jesus wants to do it, but He wants you to become a follower and figure this out; it's right there. Talk to somebody today about that. Let's leave today in love much. Amen to that because we've been forgiven much. Get out of the bleachers, put on the blood-stained jersey, get into the game, and love much. Amen! [Applause]

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