The issue of the Last Days – How much do we value the Grace of God, that is able to restore us and to place us into the Family of Heaven, and make us co-heirs with Jesus Christ?
The Banquet didn’t turn out the way it was planned! All 4 gospels tell this story
Matthew, Mark and John –These three out of the four — focus on the cost of the spikenard, that it was 1 year’s wages, and that it might have been sold and given to the poor.
Matthew, Mark and Luke show Simon to be the central character.
Matthew and Mark also identify Simon as a Leper
Only John names Lazarus, Mary and Martha by name as being there. Lazarus at the table, Martha serving and Mary as the one to anoint Jesus with Spikenard. Only John names Judas as the one critical of the expensive gift and questioning if it should have been given to the poor, while he was a thief of those funds. However, John doesn’t name the very host of the feast.
Of the 3 Synoptic gospels and the gospel of John, only Luke names the host as Simon.
The full account is ini Luke 7:36-50
Luke gives us an additional insight into transforming grace and points us to a deeper significance than the cost of the anointing oil.
Simon is here identified as a Pharisee, and the central lesson here is not the cost of the oil, but the cost of Grace, or more accurately, the value the recipient of Grace, places on Grace.
In Luke’s account of this true life story of Jesus, there are 3 principal characters.
What do we know about Simon?
A. He is a Pharisee. Pharisees wanted to serve the Lord faithfully. They were eager to be sincere, religious, faithful, obedient, holy, responsible, avoiding sin by rigorously keeping the law. Seeking to avoid entering into sin like earlier generations and falling under the judgments of God.
B. He is identified and known as a leper.
C. He is providing this feast for Jesus. Jesus had healed him from leprosy, otherwise he would not be able to be in his house, and serving as host to many others at a feast.
D. If not for Jesus’ healing, Simon likely would have still been a leper.
E. If not for Jesus’ healing, he would have been still an outcast.
2. The woman.
What do we know about “the woman?”
A. She was off the city where the feast was held.
B. She was a sinner.
C. She knew that Jesus was at this feast.
D. She anointed Jesus with one pound of fragrant oil, spikenard, kept in alabaster, worth at least 1 year’s wages. (compute that into your own annual salary).
E. She is identified as Mary, and her brother Lazarus and sister Martha are already at this feast. She has family here.
F. She was known by Simon and others to definitely be a sinner.
G. She was led into sin by Simon (DA p. 566)
H. Seven times she had demons cast out of her by Jesus (DA p. 568)
What do we know about Jesus?
Oh, the list could be endless
A. He healed Simon of leprosy.
B. He forgave Simon’s sins
C. He cast out the demons from Mary 7 times.
D. He forgave Mary’s sins.
E. He freely accepted Mary’s gift and defended her from the critics and from Simon.
F. He revealed to Simon’s heart Simon’s true character in a way that melted Simon’s proud, judgmental, critical and score-keeping heart.
Where do you see yourself, in one of these 3 main characters of this story?
Simon – Mary – Jesus
Jesus tells a story to Simon. It is only recorded here in Luke.
Two men owe the same man a debt.
One man, 500 denarii – a year and a half or more wages.
The other man, 50 denarii – just short of two months wages.
Neither could repay. So the man who was owed the money forgave them both.
The moral of the story is not, who was forgiven most, or even who loved him most.
It is – Neither man could repay the debt. At all. No way.
And the holder of the mortgage freely cancelled both debts.
The real moral of the story is:
When you HAVE received GRACE, how much is it worth to you?
Simon received just as great a gift as Mary. He had his sins forgiven. He was healed from a living death.
But Simon had not accepted the Grace, since it had not internalized and changed his heart.
“Simon of Bethany was accounted a disciple of Jesus. He was one of the few Pharisees who had openly joined Christ’s followers. He acknowledged Jesus as a teacher, and hoped that He might be the Messiah, but he had not accepted Him as a Saviour. His character was not transformed; his principles were unchanged.” DA p. 557
Simon’s life is a description of head knowledge, but not heart experience. Full of facts, while flat in faith.
Simon felt a social obligation to somehow acknowledge and show appreciation for his healing from leprosy. But as a good Pharisee, careful to keep track of all the minute religious expectations, he didn’t want to go too far in getting tied up with Jesus. So Simon gave the feast, but he did not offer the usual and standard hospitality services – greeting with affection one invited to your house for a meal, washing the feet and anointing with oil.
Simon did not fully receive and value the Grace that he had been given.
The crying need among true Christians today, that which will ready members of the Adventist Church, or any other church in the last days, is to have the GRACE of Christ totally break upon our hearts. Melt our hearts. .
Shatter our idols. Blast our self-sufficiency. Bury our pride. Strip away all faulty motivations to religiosity. And instead, fill our hearts with the complete realization that only “Christ’s righteousness ALONE can avail for (our) his salvation, and this is the gift of God.” (1 SM p. 331).
The reception of that Grace is what has the power to transform the life. My life. Your life. Your church member’s lives.
Grace, fully realized and fully received, is the full motivation to fully follow Christ and to be able to stand in the last days – to endure to the end – and meet Jesus with full assurance as the earth falls while the skies open to usher our Saviors magnificent return.
A true understanding of Grace is the only motivator to the godly life here in the last days.
That’s how it worked for Simon–
“He saw the magnitude of the debt which he owed his Lord, and became a humble, self-sacrificing man.
When we realize the full debt of obligation to our Saviour, we are united to him by closer bonds, and our love will be expressed in all our acts. … There is no sacrifice too costly to be offered on the altar of our faith. ”
ST October 9, 1879 par. 21, 22
That’s how it worked for Simon. That is how it will work for you, for me, for our members. That is the only way it works.
How much do you value the grace that is offered to you?