Sermon title:  CHRIST, THE MODEL FOR MEN

Luke 7:36-50

    Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, June 17, 2018

 

 

 

 

Today is Father’s Day,

and what better place to celebrate it

than in our heavenly Father’s house!

 

God sent his only-begotten Son

to die for our sins

and to give us new life as his adopted children.

 

We are adopted into the family of God

as beloved children of our heavenly Father.

 

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Today is Father’s Day,

but the Bible verses we’re due to look at today

are all about women.

 

How did THAT happen?

 

As we continue to move through the Gospels,

looking at everything our Lord Jesus said and did,

in the order in which those things occurred,

and I sat down to prepare

my sermon for this morning,

I noticed that the passages we come to today

are all about women:

the last few verses of Luke Chapter 7

which we just read in our Responsive Reading,

and the first 3 verses of Luke Chapter 8,

which are also printed

in this morning’s bulletin insert.

 

These verses are all about women:

the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet,

and the women who accompanied Jesus and the Apostles

as they went from one town and village to another.

 

Today is Father’s Day,

but these passages are about women,

 

So, I should be talking about men, shouldn’t I?

 

Maybe I should depart from going through the Gospels this week

and find some other passage about men

to talk about this morning.

 

At least, that was MY thinking,

when I sat down to plan my message for this morning.

 

So, I prayed to the Lord about it.

 

And then it came to me

that our Lord Jesus is the model for men—

how men ought to behave.

Jesus set the example.

 

And much of being a good man

involves how a man treats women.

That’s what the Lord showed me.

 

So, these passages about women

are perfectly relevant to Fathers Day,

because they help us see

how Christ was the model for men to follow

in how he respected and honored women.

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The modern world has finally got a #MeToo movement.

 

They’re finally starting to call men to account,

to stop taking advantage of women,

and instead to treat women with respect. 

 

But God set the standard for that long ago,

through the pages of the Bible. 

 

He instructed men on how to be husbands and fathers. 

And he sent his Son Jesus to model that behavior.

 

It’s not just one occasion, or two.

But throughout the Gospels,

Jesus models how men should be men,

and how men should treat women.

 

Our Responsive Reading this morning in Luke, Chapter 7,gave us one example.        [ OPEN ]

 

And, in this particular case,

it’s an example of how Jesus treated a woman

who had a reputation for being immoral,

a sinful woman.

 

If we begin reading in Luke Chapter 7

at Verse 36, we read,

 

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.

 

As we try to picture this situation in our mind’s eye,

we need to understand that these guests

at the Pharisee’s house

were not sitting at the table

the way we sit at the table,

with our feet on the floor in front of us.

That’s not how they did it in those days

in that part of the world.

Verse 36 says that Jesus “went to the Pharisee's house

and reclined at the table.”

 

Now, they didn’t have living room reclining chairs like we do,

where you pull a lever or push a button,

and the footrest comes up

and the chair back goes down.

But they reclined at the banquet table on couches,

using cushions and pillows.

 

The guests would all lie on their sides,

with their heads toward the table,

and their feet up on the couches,

away from the table.

 

That’s also the way Jesus and the disciples

reclined at the table during the Last Supper.

 

We see famous paintings of the Last Supper

with everyone seated upright on chairs at a table

the way we do today.

But those artists based their drawings

on their own culture,

not on what really happened in the Bible.

At the real Last Supper

they were all lying down on couches,

reclining at the table,

with the Apostle John lying close in front of Jesus

positioned at Jesus’ bosom,

so that he could lean back on Jesus’ chest

to ask him a question,

as he describes in his Gospel.

 

So, the guests here at the Pharisee’s house,

were reclining at the table like that,

with their feet up on the couches behind them.

That’s why Verse 38 says

this woman was standing behind Jesus,

standing at his feet.

 

In that position,

she could just lean over his feet

to wet his feet with her tears,

and wipe them with her long hair.

And then pour perfume on Jesus’ feet.

--------------------------------

 

Now that we can picture how it happened,

we can look at the way

the men in the room

reacted to what this woman did.

 

Luke 7, Verse 39 says

 

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."

 

Like our world today,

that First Century society had developed a double standard.

 

The woman had lived a sinful life,

and this Pharisee was quick to label her “a sinner.”

But, it’s quite possible that her sins

had been committed with some of the men at the table,

and they weren’t being held to account.

 

Male-dominated societies have often had

a double-standard like that.

 

The current #MeToo movement is exposing some of that

in our society today.

 

But the Bible exposed that double standard

thousands of years ago.

 

You could say that the first #MeToo exposé

was in the book of Genesis, Chapter 38

when a prominent man named Judah

took advantage of a woman named Tamar.

Tamar was wearing a disguise,

and so Judah didn’t recognize her

as the widow of his dead son.

During that encounter

he mistakenly thought she was a prostitute.

 

Promising to pay her later,

he left with her his personal seal and his staff—

for her to hold as collateral

until he paid her.

But when he sent a friend to deliver the payment,

she was no longer there,

and the local residents said

there was never a prostitute working that area.

 

Later, when Tamar was found to be pregnant,

although unmarried at the time,

this prominent man, Judah,

was in favor of putting her to death.

That is, until she produced evidence—

his personal seal and his staff—

proving that Judah himself

was the one who got her pregnant.

Then he said, “She is more righteous than I am.”

 

In a case of unmarried sex like that,

the man and the woman were both equally responsible.

But the men who served as judges in those days

often did so in a male-chauvinistic way.

 

They were ready to punish the woman,

until Tamar fingered that prominent man Judah

as the father of her baby.

So, this was the first #MeToo case on record—

thousands of years before today’s #MeToo movement

began identifying prominent men

who took advantage of women.

 

And God put that man Judah to shame

by recording his misconduct in the Bible.

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But now we have the good example Jesus set

in dealing with this sinful woman

who poured perfume on his feet

at the banquet in the Pharisee’s house.

 

In Luke, Chapter 7, Verse 39

the Pharisee Simon said to himself about Jesus,

"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."

 

Now he didn’t say that out loud

to Jesus, or to the woman, or to his other guests.

He said it “to himself” silently

in his head—in his own thoughts.

 

But, being the Son of God,

Jesus knows our hearts and our thoughts.

So, he knew that Simon was thinking this.

 

And continuing in Luke, Chapter 7, Verse 40,

Jesus answered Simon’s unspoken accusation.

Verse 40 says,

40 Jesus answered him,

"Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Tell me, teacher," he said.

 

Jesus continued,

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.

 

People in those days wore open sandals

and walked on dusty dirt roads,

so it was a common courtesy

for a host to give guests water for their feet,

or to have a servant wash their feet.

In Verse 45, Jesus continues,

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."

 

The Pharisees were notorious

for thinking themselves more righteous than other people,

and for looking down on others as sinners.

And this Pharisee Simon, and his other guests,

fit that picture.

They were too busy looking down on this woman,

and thinking themselves superior,

to see her need for forgiveness,

and to see how appreciative she was of Jesus.

 

But our Lord showed his concern for her

in the way he allowed her

to wash and anoint his feet,

and in the way he forgave her sins

and sent her off in peace.

 

Jesus set the example for us men,

as fathers and husbands.

 

If Jesus could be so kind

to a woman who was a sinner and a stranger,

how much more should we men

deal kindly with our wives!

 

Our Lord did not take a wife here on earth.

He was still single when he died on the cross for us

around 33 years of age.

 

But we don’t have to wonder

how he would have treated a wife

if he had married—

because, in a spiritual sense,

the Church is the ‘bride of Christ.’

 

In his letter to the Ephesians,[  OPEN  ]

the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul

to compare

Christ’s love for the Church

to the love a man should show for his wife.

 

It’s found in Ephesians Chapter 5

beginning with Verse 25.

And there it says,

 

25 Husbands, love your wives,

just as Christ loved the church

and gave himself up for her

26 to make her holy, cleansing her

by the washing with water through the word,

27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church,

without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,

but holy and blameless.

 

And then notice that it says, in Verse 28,

 

28 In this same way,

husbands ought to love their wives

as their own bodies.

He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 After all, no one ever hated his own body,

but he feeds and cares for it,

just as Christ does the church--

30 for we are members of his body.

 

31 "For this reason

a man will leave his father and mother

and be united to his wife,

and the two will become one flesh."

 

32 This is a profound mystery—

but I am talking about Christ and the church.

33 However, each one of you also

must love his wife as he loves himself,

and the wife must respect her husband.

 

So, we husbands ought to love our wives

just as Christ loved the church

and gave himself up for her.

 

That’s a self-sacrificing love.

It’s a complete and unselfish love.

There is no love greater than that.

It is the perfect model

for us men to follow.

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And, as for being good fathers,

loving our wife

is an important step in doing that, too.

 

Ephesians Chapter 6, Verse 4

says that men are responsible

for the religious instruction of their children.

It says,

 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children;

instead, bring them up

in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

 

But that formal instruction and training

can be cancelled out

if the father isn’t setting the right example

in his own personal walk with the Lord.

 

It has often been said

that the most important thing a father can do

for his children

is to love their mother.

 

That gives children a sense of security

and well-being.

 

It’s often observed that children blame themselves

when they see their parents fighting

and divorcing.

Their whole world falls apart

and they blame themselves for it.

No, it’s not logical,

but it’s well known that children react that way.

 

So, a father’s unconditional love

for the mother of his children

goes a long way

toward giving those children

the emotional security and stability

they need

to develop healthy personalities themselves.

And a father can give his children that gift

by loving their mother.

 

God gives men that responsibility,[  OPEN  ]

and 1st Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 7

shows that God holds husbands and fathers accountable.

In fact,

it seems to imply

that a man can spoil his relationship with God

by not treating his wife with proper respect.

 

A man’s prayers can be hindered.

 

1st Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 7 says,

 

“Husbands, in the same way

be considerate as you live with your wives,

and treat them with respect

as the weaker partner

and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life,

so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

 

That would be a serious thing

for a man’s prayers to be hindered.

But failure to treat his wife with respect as the weaker partner

could hinder a man’s prayers.

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The Bible also instructs men

how to treat women they are not married to: 

1 Timothy 5:1-2 says to treat

“older women as mothers,

and younger women as sisters,

with absolute purity.”

 

Our Lord, when on earth, set the example in this, too.

 

It wasn’t just the male Apostles

who accompanied Jesus in his ministry

from town to town and from city to city

in the Promised Land.

Luke Chapter 8 tells us that there were also women       [  OPEN  ]

who had a prominent role in our Lord’s ministry

and in supporting his work on earth.

 

The account about the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet

concluded the 7th Chapter of Luke.

 

And then Luke, Chapter 8, begins with these words:

 

“After this, Jesus traveled about

from one town and village to another,

proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

The Twelve were with him,

and also some women

who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases:

Mary (called Magdalene)

from whom seven demons had come out;

Joanna the wife of Cuza,

the manager of Herod's household;

Susanna; and many others.

These women were helping to support them

out of their own means.”

 

Jesus honored these women

with these special privileges

in supporting his ministry.

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And the New Testament goes on

to show that God treats men and women alike.

 

Our heavenly Father sent his only-begotten Son

to die for our sins

and to give us new life as his adopted children.

 

 

 

And so, Galatians Chapter 3, beginning with Verse 26, says

 

26 You are all sons of God

through faith in Christ Jesus,

 

And then Verse 27 continues,

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek,

slave nor free, male nor female,

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

So, our loving heavenly Father

doesn’t play favorites

among his male and female children.

 

But he welcomes us all in love.

 

And our heavenly Father

sent his only-begotten Son Jesus

to model that behavior for human fathers.