Pharisee or Forgiven
The lesson for this week focuses on the live of two very different people but both in need of a Savior. As we study this week, ask yourself which one are you and what you need from the Lord. I hope by the end of this study that we all understand that we all need Christ alike and no matter what category we are in at the moment, we are all in need of the Savior Jesus Christ. He is our healer and our great Physician. He wants to make us new and to heal our hearts so that we can truly have a heart for Him.
Handout: Pharisee or Forgiven
Teacher's Guide: Pharisee or Forgiven
At the time of Jesus’ ministry here on earth, the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups. One of the more prominent groups was the Pharisees. The Pharisees were an extremely religious group that separated themselves from anything non-Jewish. They carefully followed both Old Testament laws and the spoken traditions handed down through the centuries. They came from all classes of people. John the Baptist criticized the Pharisees for being legalistic and hypocritical, following the letter of the law, while ignoring its true meaning and purpose. In Matthew chapter 3 we read where John the Baptist began to speak to them.
Matthew 3:7 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to fee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Fruit meet for repentance, in other words fruits that match repentance. John the Baptist was letting them know that Almighty God looks beyond our words and religious actions. He peers into our hearts to see if our true feelings and self is devoted to HIM. God looks on the heart because in the heart is where our true feelings and intentions are. God wants people to truly have a heart for Him, not just in words or traditions.
The Pharisees were very religious. They were committed to obeying all of God’s commands and were admired by the common people for their noticeable “righteousness”. They believed in a bodily resurrection and eternal life as well as believing in angels and demons.
The Pharisees lived their lives relying on their own righteousness. To them, their religious rules were more important than anything else. Their righteousness was often hypocritical and their efforts forced the people around them to try to live up to standards that even they could not live up to. They believed that in order to receive salvation, one had to live in perfect obedience to the law. They did not believe that Salvation came from the forgiveness of sins. The Pharisees became so passionate with obeying the law that they totally ignored God’s message through Christ of mercy and grace. They were more concerned with having a good reputation and being good rather than obeying what God really wanted which was a true heart for HIM
The Pharisees rejected Jesus and His claim to be Messiah because He did not follow all of their traditions and associated with sinners. They were against Him and hated Him because He spoke out about their hypocrisy.
In Matthew 23 among other scripture we see Jesus speaking out against the ways of the Pharisees.
Matthew 23:23-27 23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
In the book of Luke, chapter 7, we see where a certain Pharisee had invited Jesus to come to his house for a meal. Let’s read to see what happened.
36And one of the Pharisees desired Him that he would eat with Him. And He went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
I love these scriptures in Luke 7. There are so many wonderful lessons all wrapped up together in these paragraphs. As we look at this I encourage each one of you to search your hearts and ask yourselves, which one of these people would represent me and my attitude the most if I were in this situation.
Here we have this Pharisee, Simon, a man who is probably greatly revered in the eyes of his peers. He no doubt is very religious and has lived an outwardly clean life for the most part. Let me say here, there is definitely nothing wrong with living a clean, moral life. God wants this for us. However in this teaching God is trying to show us that we can not be righteous enough in our own selves and by pass the grace and mercy which is given to us through Christ because JESUS is the only way to the FATHER. Jesus is our Salvation. No amount of good living can substitute for mercy and grace from JESUS because as human beings we simply cannot be good enough because as it says in Isaiah 64:6, our righteousness is as filthy rags.
So this religious man invites Jesus into his house for a meal. As they are eating, this woman comes in uninvited, God’s words says that she was a sinner. The Bible does not specifically tell us what sins she has committed though many Bible Scholars across the board tend to believe that she was involved in some kind of harlotry, perhaps even prostitution, however we do not know for certain but we do know that she is a woman who is a sinner and these people know her for that. She has a reputation of sin. She has now come into this room which more than likely were all men at this table and she is weeping and her tears are falling on the feet of Jesus.
That word weeping in the Greek is Klaio which means weeping as a sign of pain or grief, to mourn or lament. So she is not just crying; I believe she is sobbing and shedding much tears. I believe that she has lived in this life of sin so long and she is so tired of this pit that she has been in. Can you relate dear one? Are you in a pit of sin, a strong hold of sin? Are you tired of living as a slave to this pain? I believe she was. Perhaps she had already had an encounter with Christ. Perhaps He had spoken words of life to her. Perhaps she had listened to Him preach and she believed. She knew that He was her only hope. He was the only way out of this life of sin that had her bound. He was her only salvation! She dropped her pride, her fear of what everyone else would think and what they would say. She went to Jesus and she repented, she lavished Him with her love and her gratitude. She wisely grabbed on to Him who was her only hope and she didn’t care who saw or what they thought. She held on for dear life and she lavished Jesus with her love and her repentant heart. She gave Him the best she had and she held nothing back!
Luke 7:39 “39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner. 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.”
Now while this “sinful woman” was weeping, while she was washing Jesus feet with her tears and drying them with her hair, Simon, this Pharisee or “righteous man” is judging her and Jesus in his heart! He thinks, If Jesus was a prophet then He would know she is a sinner! In other words if there was anything to this man he would know what kind of horrible woman this is and would not allow her to even touch him!
Have you ever had the “Pharisee” rise up in you? Sad to say I have in the past. Sometimes our humanity will get in our way when we see someone who is in a pit of sin, and not even thinking we will begin to judge that person. If we are not very careful we will forget the mess that God has brought us from and we will turn up our noses and think that there is no way that we could EVER do or be where this person in sin is not realizing that our attitude is just as wrong in the eyes of God as what the person may be doing. God’s word clearly tells us not to judge and that whatever we judge others for we will be judged ourselves for the same thing!
Matthew 7:1-3 “Judge not, that ye be not judge. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye.”
So Jesus knew what Simon the Pharisee was thinking of course because God knows every thought we think and every emotion that we feel. He knows ALL! We cannot hide anything from Almighty God. He even knows the very hairs of our heads, He has them numbered. (Luke 12:7)
So Jesus says, Simon I want to say something to you. By Simon’s response perhaps he thought Jesus was going to commend him. Maybe not but perhaps Simon thought Jesus would “explain” the actions of this woman and why He was allowing her to continue. Perhaps he thought Jesus would talk of how righteous he was and had lived and would ask him to just “excuse” this woman and her actions. Jesus knew exactly what words to say and to say them to get his message across. Let’s read on to see what Jesus said.
Luke 7:41-47 41There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
Wow! I wonder just what reaction Simon had as well as the other people who were there to the words Jesus spoke? Jesus said volumes in just a few sentences. He was saying, Simon, you see this women as a sinner but have you REALLY looked at her? Do you really see her sincerity and her heart for God as I see? She is one who has been forgiven much therefore she loves much with all of her heart! Her heart for God is compelling her to act out in love for me. She is not being fake, she is not being “righteous or religious” trying to make a name for herself in the eyes of others. Her repentance and her gratitude and love have brought her here!
Notice Jesus did not say that she was not a sinner or that her sin was ok. He recognized that she had been indebted much and that she had been forgiven much and that forgiveness caused her to love much! Does Satan come at you with past sins? Does he try to bring condemnation to your heart and your mind. Does he constantly bring up the things you have done wrong and bring guilt into your emotions? That is one of his favorite tricks. However, it’s a lie! Those who are forgiven and who are in Christ Jesus are under NO condemnation.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”
No, it’s not ok to live a life of sin and to continue in sin however, once we turn over that sin and our lives and hearts to Christ, we are no longer condemned and those who have been forgiven much, loves much! Praise You LORD! Satan doesn’t have a leg to stand on! God’s word is truth and we can stand on it and hold to it and live by it! Wonderful words of life! When Satan comes at you telling you that you are not worthy and reminding you of past sins, you tell him on the authority of God’s word that you are a child of GOD most high and that through Christ you are forgiven and that you are under no condemnation! God can use your life and there is NO strong hold strong enough that God cannot break the chains, there is NO pit deep enough that HE can’t reach down and pull you out! No matter where you are, no matter what you have done, No matter what you have been through, and no matter what has happened to you, Dear one, you can be forgiven. You can be free, you can be healed and whole again! Through Christ you can live! There are no conditions on His love and mercy. He said that whosoever will let them come and drink of the water of life freely, no conditions on that. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved! (Romans 10:13)
Revelations 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Christ wants to heal your heart, your emotions and your mind. He doesn’t expect you to just forget what has happened in your life. He doesn’t expect you to push it down and go on like a brave soldier! NO! He wants you to give it to Him, whatever it is and trust Him to heal it and make you new again!
Luke 7:48 48And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?50And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
He came so that you could have life yes…but life abundantly! Yes we can live in heaven when this life is over, but HE wants to give us a life of victory here while on the journey. You can be healed, whole, made new in Christ! Just as Jesus forgave and healed and made this sinful woman free, He longs to do the same for you and me. He wants us to go in peace because by faith we are saved, healed, made new!
Think about your own life and heart today. Have you been in the place of this woman or in the place of Simon the Pharisee? Perhaps you have been in both places at one time or another. In JESUS CHRIST there is hope. He can forgive us our sins and He can give us a pure heart that is for God. He can help us to not live in judgment of others so that we can be a guiding light to lead them to Christ and to freedom. He makes all things new, whatever state you are in, He is HOPE!
Let us go with a love in our hearts for CHRIST and for others realizing that we are sinners saved by grace and are sons and daughters of our FATHER GOD! We can live in that promise now because that is what we are through Jesus and accepting Him as LORD and SAVIOR of our lives!
Act 4:12 “Neither is there Salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Dear Righteous Heavenly Father,
I bow myself before You again today thanking You for who You are and all that You do. Thank You Lord for pulling me out of the pit I was in and setting my feet on the firm foundation. Father today I ask that You help me and all those who are reading this lesson and all those that will hear it, to know that You are all. Help us to know that Christ is the only Hope we have. Lord help us to run to You will all our hurts, all our cares, all of our sins and all of our shame so that You can heal us and shed Your light upon us so that we can be free and live victorious for Your glory. Father I ask today that You help us to not live in judgment of others and to realize that we all need You great and small. Help us to have the love in our hearts for others, forgiving others and having compassion for others so that we can lead them to You through Christ. Thank You for all the countless blessings You give to us each and every day and thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. Father we ask that You bless this ministry and use it for Your glory to reach millions around the world with the love of Christ and the message of Hope in Him. We will forever love You, Praise You and worship You. In the Lovely name of Jesus we pray. Amen!
August 27, 2017