This sermon was preached by Tom O’Toole at the CCM Heatons site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 8th January 2023.
This sermon was based on Luke 7:36-50, John 12:1-8 and John 13:23.
Luke 7:36-50 – A Sinful Woman Forgiven
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
John 12:1-8 – Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
1Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
John 13:23 – 23One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,
What does Jesus want from us in 2023?
- Song of Songs is a book of romantic poetry that speaks of the love between God and his people.
- In the gospels we see examples of this lived out.
- Often this is expressed in ways that raise eyebrows, but the heart is closeness with Jesus.
Intimacy Flows from Grace (Luke 7:36-50)
- Simon wanted to meet with Jesus on his own terms. He didn’t show the love of somebody who understands forgiveness.
- This can be a danger for us too.
- In contrast is the woman. She knew the reputation that she had, but she was desperate to honour Jesus and did so with her tears, her hair and her kisses.
- The Greek word for worship (prokuneo) literally means ‘draw near to kiss’.
Intimacy Is Extravagant (John 12:1-8)
- Mary poured out perfume worth a year’s wages on Jesus.
- This may not seem prudent, but love doesn’t always act in prudent ways.
- How can we show our love for Jesus in extravagant ways?
Intimacy Is Shown in Relationship (John 13:23)
- John laid his head on Jesus’ bosom.
- This was not a normal thing, even in the reclined seating positions – John brings it up several times.
- It shows particular closeness, like something a son would do to their father.
- Intimacy with Jesus draws close. What is the equivalent for us of resting our heads on Jesus’ chest?
- Intimacy with Jesus is something for men too – but sometimes men can find it a particular struggle.
- Intimacy with Jesus shapes out identity. John refers to himself as the disciples who Jesus loved.
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