Luke 7, 15 & 19 The Art of Grace: Forgiveness

Any of you ever see this guy on TV; I had to write his name down, because I, personally, I didn’t know the man’s name, but I, I remember distinctly flipping the channels late night and seeing him, called, Bob Ross? That name bring a bell? He’s a painter on TV. Remember him? Oh yeah, oh yeah that guy, with the frizzy hair. Now, I bet you every person in this room watched the guy at least once or twice. So you’d be going to the channels and you’d see him and you really, if you’re like me and I’m an art student, really I couldn’t stand to sit through whole entire painting. It was just too painful. I just as soon see the beginning and then come back and see the finished product. And when you see the finished product you go, “Wow! I’d like to do that.” How many of you have ever said that, “I’d like to do that”? Wow, okay so I’m not the only freak in the building. Okay. So, but here’s what I want to capture, this guy had a way, obviously he began with a blank canvas and interestingly enough for those who weren’t art inclined, he’d do the background first. You’ve got to choose your subject of course, and know what it is you’re painting; most painters do that. Most artists will do the background first. And when you see the background being placed you don’t necessarily get a feel of where the artist is going, until what is put in the foreground comes into view, and that which is the foreground becomes the focal point of attention. Your eye is drawn to what is required in the foreground. Now, I’m an, as I said, an art student and there are certain things in art that an artist tries to accomplish. If you are an artist liken unto Dali, you try to bring your viewer into a close focus to try and find all the hidden things that are buried and nestled within what is still the foreground. If you’re one of those painters that painted at the turn of the century, they used color very sparingly, but when they did they’d use just a little bit of red in their painting to draw your eye immediately to the red. And then you’d kind of get the rest the picture in view. So what I’m going to do today is very much like that. We’re going to use a background and the foreground with the canvas not completely empty, but the background is going to be the Pharisees. Interestingly enough you need those. Without the Pharisees from the Bible, we don’t have a perspective. In fact, I say I’m very grateful that they were included, and for a good reason. And the foreground, of course, we’ll see Christ. And along the way they’ll be some details that will be added in, so when we’re done doing the biblical painting today, I hope what we will see is the contrast between the background and the foreground. And without the background of the Pharisees, the foreground would not have leapt off the pages as much. So I begin with three Scriptures, they are all out of Luke. And I’m, I’m actually going to read them to you and then we’ll go to them afterwards, because I’m going to flip between these three Scriptures all the while staying in Luke. This is an exception; I’m actually going to contain myself to one book. So my three texts, one of them is after Jesus goes in to the Pharisee’s house named Simon; that would be, if you’re going to turn there, because I hear pages turning, if you’re going to go there, it’s Luke 7, and the specific place I’m looking at is verse 39. But Simon the Pharisees says, “If this man were a prophet,” I might as well turn there too; you’re all turning there. I’ll be the only one that’s not there. “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of women this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” Just hang that there, that one verse, hang that there. And I don’t; I’m not going to tell you the Scripture reference, because you’re going to turn there. It will be like I’m going to be gone before you get there, but there’s another place in Luke’s Gospel, which we will go to eventually, where it is the scribes and Pharisees, and they are marveling at the fact that the multitudes have gathered and pressed close to Jesus, and they make this declaration, “This man receiveth sinners, and he eateth with them.” And then lastly, an observation from the same scribes and Pharisees regarding the person of Zacchaeus, as they see Jesus going into Zacchaeus’ house with him, and they say, “This man is going to lodge with him,” going to rest with him. And essentially, if they knew, if he knew or understood what type of man this is, he would never go in the house with him. So we have three different pictures. Now I hope you stayed in Luke 7. I hope you stayed there, because that’s where I’m going to go briefly and I’m going to go away, and then we’ll come back to it. These are the three Scriptures we’re dealing with; these are my elements in the canvas. Good preaching, good preaching, I think good preaching or the elements of communicating God’s Word is driving home certain points that are not just part of an idea but that conceptually when you leave here, you are taking these words, this canvas with you and applying it. So we have this first picture that I’ve given you out of Luke 7. And in the house of this Pharisee as the story is depicted, and we’ll read it shortly, something of interest comes to my attention. Jesus is going to say to Simon later on in this passage, how Simon neglected the decency of what is expected in that custom. In that time when a stranger even would come into your home, you would wash their feet or provide water for their feet. That was customary in the day. And Jesus is going to point out the lack of just common decency. But I put some notes about Simon’s attitude towards Jesus. They represent for me familiarity in a bad way, they represent someone who is judgmental, his statement regarding “if he knew what type of woman this was, if he was, if he was truly a prophet, if he could understand or know, he would not let her touch him,” essentially. That essentially Jesus, according to Simon, lacks discernment and his utterance says he is disappointed in Christ. Remember it was Simon who bid Him to come to his house to break bread with him. And now suddenly he is disappointed. The second picture with the large crowds pressing in that I referenced, which we’ll go and visit out of━don’t turn there please━Luke 15, verses 1 and 2. Don’t, please don’t turn there. Do not move the pages, all right. But the large crowds pressing in and we can, if you get a mental image of this, because He’s going to begin this teaching. He’s been teaching all the while, but He’s going to begin to teach and speak in parables. And this, this image to me is a throng of people around Him, pressing in close. This isn’t the “Jesus stadium event,” where Jesus is on the platform and all the little people are over here and Jesus is saying, “Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.” It’s all of these people, I envision them pressing in close. If I were going to make painting of this, I would imagine the people thronged around Jesus, just listening awaiting what the Master is going to say. And the declaration of those standing around, “This man receives sinners, and he’s eating with them,” says a spirit of hypocrisy, the spirit of astonishment, and some righteous complaint about this Jesus. If you follow this through to the third image I’ve given you of Zacchaeus and Jesus exchange. While He calls to Zacchaeus who’s up in the tree, because we know Zacchaeus was short in stature; little monkey. And he went up in the tree, because it was rumored Jesus is coming through and he couldn’t see for the crowds. So he goes up in a tree and it’s Jesus that calls to him up in the tree and says, “Come on down.” It’s the original The Price Is Right, “Come on down.” And they go inside, and I can just hear the murmuring Pharisees, “Jesus is going inside that crook’s house.” Now, let’s kind of analyze this, just from these three perspectives, because these make up the whole picture. We always have Jesus in the foreground, and in the background we always have these constants: the Pharisees and scribes. Now from the first picture, I want you now to read with me and see something I think very insightful. Jesus is invited into this house. It says here, and we’re looking at Luke 7 and verse 36, “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,” He sat down to eat. Now, I want you to take notice of something. Because I always come under fire; you cannot as a pastor you can’t please anybody most of the time. That’s a good saying. You know, usually there’s that saying, “You can usually please some of the people some of the time.” As a pastor you can’t please most of the people most of the time anyway, because somebody’s got some personal gripe, they’re carrying around traditions that make void the word of God. And we’ll, I’ll show you this in a minute, but it’s rather interesting to me. Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house and sat down to eat with him. And if you comb the New Testament you’ll find something very revelatory. When Jesus first came on the scene, the Pharisees took interest in Him. They actually, they were somewhat intrigued by this teaching. But you notice as His ministry grows, and as the cross is approaching, and He starts making these more bold declarations, Jesus, about Himself, the Pharisees turned from being interested, being intrigued, to complaining, indignant, hypocritical. Jesus even says, “Woe unto you hypocrites,” speaking directly to the Pharisees and scribes. So it’s interesting to me that at the very beginning, the Pharisees and scribes actually had some interest, some communication, some desire to listen to what this man was saying. And it’s always like that, by the way. The religious folk, and you’ve met them, they’re always like that, they’ll have some interest at the first, because they think that they’ve painted a picture of you that is favorable to them, until they hear you open your mouth, and then they say, “Ah, okay. I’ll be right back.” And of course, you know, here comes the spiritual knifes and the spiritual daggers the minute your back is turned they’re slash! all right. No one will do you like a Christian brother. I’ve said that a million times, and I’ll keep saying that. We worry about the folk out in the world. Don’t worry about the folk out in the world, they’re just the world; but the ones in the church. Those Pharisees and scribes, those are the guys; people, so I’m not being sexist here; that you’ve got to watch out for. But it says clearly the Pharisee, Simon, “desired that he would come and eat with him,” so he invited Him in for fellowship. “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat,” when she did Jesus was sitting at the Pharisee’s table, breaking bread, “brought an alabaster box of ointment.” I really want you to catch this picture, because it’s there for a reason. That this woman, until she knew that Jesus was in the house; I like that: Jesus is in the house. Until she knew that He was in the house, nothing could make her a sinful woman, a sinner woman, cross the threshold into a Pharisee’s house. I want you to get that picture, because it’s highly important. Jesus didn’t say to the woman out in the street, “Hey lady, get in here!” He didn’t say, “Hey now, I’m going to have an altar call and I want anybody who’s just filthy and a rat to come on in, and we’ll, we’ll dunk you and we’ll do everything. It’s a one-stop service here today, and off you go: you’re saved.” He didn’t say any of that, it just says, when woman knew that Jesus was in the house eating, breaking bread with a Pharisee, “she brought an alabaster box of ointment, and she stood at his feet behind him weeping, began to wash his feet with tears.” And I’ve heard so many people just absolutely buggle this Scripture, because they think that she was washing His feet and crying at the same time, and they don’t understand that what Luke was meaning to say was, physically that she was weeping, and it was the liquid from her eyes that washed His feet. And there’s a very real reason of why it’s penned like that, versus, I’ve heard people say, “She was washing His feet and crying because she was washing His feet,” hello. “She washed his feet with her tears, and she did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” And just those few things that we’re looking at; and I really want you to take special attention to this detail, because what she does in crying her tears and using her tears is what came from inside the woman. She could’ve gone to get a bucket of water somewhere, which was customary. But the writer’s expressing some very great detail and some very small words. She’s, she’s giving what was inside of her, from her tears; she used the glory, the woman’s hair it is supposed to be her crown and her glory; she used her glory at his feet, the most base part, the dirtiest part of any person, even Jesus walking in the streets; and brought her best physical gift. So it’s really painting a picture. This woman brought of her essence, what she brought to Jesus was from inside, she brought and used the most glorious part of her being, and she obviously brought her best gift. Now, I’ve been saying this for a long time, people really treat the Scripture sometimes just cowboy-esque, they plow through it and they fail to see, something I’ve been saying for weeks. The presenting of self, Romans 12; here she is presenting herself, she’s presenting her best gift like those Philippians, and in this case it’s her best and most expensive. And she’s presenting the sacrifice, which I taught out of Psalm 51, verse 17; the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart before Christ. You meet all of these repeatables in God’s book, all of them; you meet them all in one place in this woman. Now, what’s amazing is if we really take a look at this woman, we’ve got some very deep details, and all this man could say is, “If this man was a prophet, he would have known who and what manner of woman this was that was touching him.” And what you do one thing. I want you to, somewhere in the margin of your Bible, I want you to make sure that you put down “she touched Him.” She touched Him. She reached out to Him and she touched Him as part of our depiction of things we’re looking at. The second thing we see, I’m moving to my second text, which is out of Luke 15, verses 1 and 2, I’m drawing a picture of what we see. We see previously what came before, chapter 15 is tons of teaching with people following Him around, great multitudes as He’s teaching, and then all of a sudden, Luke 15 begins with, “Then drew near unto him all publicans,” that’s all the tax collectors “and sinners, to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured.” You know that’s the common denominator every time you read, you’ll read that they murmured. They murmured amongst themselves, they were murmured to others; they are just a bunch of murmurers. And they murmured saying, “This man receiveth and sinners, and eateth with them.” I just want you to take note of that. That one word where it says, “he receiveth.” I think that is; right, “This man receiveth.” I just want you to take note of that one word right there and write somewhere atop in your margin or something, that Greek word is “to accept,” or “to bring to oneself.” Jesus was bringing or accepting the people to Him, which is why I trip out when people read the Scriptures and ask you as saints to “accept Jesus.” It was Jesus that was accepting these people. He was taking them to Himself. And make a second note there. Whereas the first woman touched Jesus, the second group here that we’re referring to, He was eating with them, which represents communion and fellowship. Write that in the margin somewhere of your Bible so you’ll see what type of thread we’re threading together. And lastly, from Luke 19, and you may turn there if you want to follow me now, because we’re just going to bounce around these three scriptures. Luke 19 tells the story of Jesus entering and passing through Jericho. “And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, who was the chief among the publicans,” he was the chief tax collector, if you will, and he was rich. And he got rich off of other people’s money. You know, again, it’s one of these things if we’re not careful we just breeze right by it. To be a tax collector meant you worked for the Romans and you were collecting money for the enemy and you were, amongst the Jews, amongst anybody, you were the most hated. You know some things never change. A tax collector’s still hated today. But the people knew Zacchaeus; this is where I want to make some distinctions. They knew, not only was this man a tax collector working for the enemy, the Romans, but he was also a crook and he ripped people off, and he stole money from the tax collection business that he had. It’s a good ministry to be in. “And he sought to see Jesus who he was; he could not for the press,” the multitude was so big and because he was a short little man. “And he ran before, climbed up into a Sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And Jesus came to the place, he looked up, saw him, and said unto him”━now this would have scared the liver out of me if I was Zacchaeus, because Jesus calls him by name. He doesn’t say, “Hey boy, get down from that tree over there.” He doesn’t say, “Sir, excuse me, that’s a fine abode you have there. Would you care to come down?” He says, “Zacchaeus,” He calls him by name, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. He made haste, came down, and received him joyfully. When they saw it,” and you know the “they” are, “when they saw it, they all murmured.” You don’t need to know who is; all you need to know is they were murmuring, so you know it’s the scribes and the Pharisees. They are murmuring again saying, “Uh, can you believe this? ” It says, “That he was gone to be a guest,” and that Greek word can be “to relax, to rest,” or “to lodge, to abide,” with a man that is a sinner. “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, a half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I’ve taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. Jesus says unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Now, I put these all in order just the way I did to give an idea of something. You know, I get these letters and calls on the phone lines. And I’m never really sure how to publicly deal with this, because there’s so many of you out there that have to contend with; and you just have to forgive me for saying it like this; you have to contend with friends and family, or people in your realm that have an idea of how you ought to be as a Christian, how you ought to be behaving, how you ought to be acting, what type of church you should be in. And they, they’re good with this; they’re good at pointing the finger. And they will, at some point if you let them, if you let them, they will drag you back into legalism and bondage, because for them, as Paul wrote to the Galatians, for them faith is not come. And to those people who, to whom faith is not come, they’re still under the bondage of the law. They’re still living in the do do and the don’t do, and act and don’t act. Jesus said clearly what a man or a woman puts in the mouth is not what defiles. Whether you decide to, ladies wear make-up or not, or men if you drink beer or not. You say, “Well, Pastor Scott!” But, I’m telling you what Jesus said. He said, it’s what comes out of the person’s mouth, because out of the person’s mouth, what flows from this amazingly small area, which has a large capacity to bless or to wound, or to say stupid things or good things; usually proceeds from the heart. And it is there where all the issues, from there all the issues flow. I’m always convinced of this. And I’m telling you as friends and as family. If people are coming at you and saying, “You know, you should be living your life differently. Surely you, you read the Bible, surely you ought to whatever.” Do one thing: stand back and don’t listen. And I’m telling you this for a reason, because Jesus gave abundant proof that those very people; I’m going to demonstrate it; those very people who come at you and start pointing the finger and telling you how you ought to live, and how you should behave, and what you should be doing, usually those people are the most base people. They come as whited sepulchers, and they are the most base people. They have never had a reality check of their destitute state, so they walk around dressed; you know, any person that will put themselves in a position to peacock themselves around you, just look out. And the real reality check comes when Jesus makes a bold statement, because we’re going to end up going back to my first example in minute. But abundant evidence right here, in this particular passage. The Pharisees and the scribes are saying, “Aha!” Jesus went into the house to abide with this man. If you want to put something in the margin of this passage referring to this message, you put that He went into abide with him. And if you line up these three pictures I’ve used that are part of the background, you’ll see the woman who tried to minister to the Lord, essentially by touching Him; she touched Him. In the second place, there was communion and fellowship with those He was eating with. And the third place, Jesus has gone in to abide. These are all sinners; these are all considered the irksome part of society, and yet one is touching Him. And He doesn’t say, “Don’t touch Me.” And in another depiction, the breaking of bread and fellowship; and in another depiction, abiding and residing And we have here the picture of how Jesus comes to meet us; He meets us right where we’re at. There’s; I’ve got to be careful about what I say here. There’s, there is a ministry that likes to spend its time telling how if you’re not following exactly what they do; in fact maybe, I just described a couple of ministries; that if you don’t do what they do, you’re going to hell. And you know what’s so sad to me is most people are a little bit lazy when it comes to the Scripture. That’s why I said to you, guests, if you’re here for the first time, my goal today is to get you who are here for the first time to understand, you may be in this building for the first time, and whether you come back or not, that’s between you and God. But I’m not here to condemn you; I’m here to tell you about the grace of God. I’m here to tell you that every single person that comes through the door of Jesus Christ comes as filthy and vile. And Jesus does not say, “In order for you to come through the door, go get some clean clothes, go wash up, go fix up, go dress up.” He meets the people right where they’re at. In fact, what I love about Luke’s Gospel is that earlier in the gospel, about the 5th chapter, He calls Levi━Matthew, who’s a tax collector. I love this. He called a scum person in the persona of the day; that was the lowest profession, and calls him to be a part of His disciples, His chosen ones. That’s why I refuse to come here, I refuse to talk to people wherever I go and say, “Well, somehow, you know, you’re such a mess-up you don’t qualify.” If we had to stand right now before God, on the merits of our goodness, no person could stand, because just as the Scripture declares, “There is not one that doeth good.” Now, you know, for me it becomes very simple. I’m going to show you what a great artist Christ is. Go back to the first example, that was in Luke 7, and I want you to see how great of an artist, painting this picture for this Pharisee. “Jesus answered the man,” after, you know, the statement that the Pharisee makes, “This man, if he were a prophet, he would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”━ugh━”And Jesus answering, he said, Simon I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master,” literally, “Teacher, speak on.” And He begins to paint the picture for him. “A certain creditor had, which had two debtors: one owed five hundred pence, the other fifty.” So He’s showing the demonstration of great and small debt. But they both owed something, “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly, he forgave them both. Tell me now therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I will suppose that he to whom he forgave the most. And Jesus said unto him, You said right,” it’s a right answer. Now brilliantly, Jesus will now take the very thing that Simon the Pharisee views as base, demeaning and despicable, and He will show Simon by His words that in fact he is lower than this woman, because He begins a contrast. He says, “You see this woman? I entered into your house, you gave me no water for my feet.” If we’re going to make a ledger here between the woman and Simon: one for the woman, zero for Simon. Just the most basic, common courtesy, the most decent thing we would do, if we lived in this time of the writing of this New Testament, it was, common practice and common courtesy that if you came to somebody’s house, they brought water for you to wash your feet. As people traveled than, and sand and whatever else they tracked around, that was common practice. Jesus says, “You didn’t even do the most common, basic thing for me. But this woman, since I’ve come into the house; she’s washed my feet with her tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head.” Catch the picture. It’s not as though the woman could have, she could’ve taken a pitcher from outside and brought it in, if we were just talking about washing His feet as a sense of coming into somebody’s house. She demonstrated something far beyond, that what she was giving came from within her. It wasn’t some mouth action like the Pharisee. This was something coming from inside of her. And using the most glorious part of her being, her hair, “Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in she’s not ceased to kiss my feet.” Simon, the woman, Simon: two for the woman, zero for Simon. “Would you like more Simon, because there’s just a little bit more? My head with oil, you didn’t anoint it: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. You know, Simon, you are as dry as a sackcloth and this woman is like a piece of silk, if you can see the contrast between the two natures and your attitudes towards Me; now who is more base?” The very thing that he saw as vile in the woman; you know good logic, it’s good, basic psychology 101: the very thing which you tend to hate about others, you either secretly love or it’s something that you see as a lack in yourself. Now, I know somebody just like this. I know somebody who absolutely despises me. I’ve never done them any malice. Sometimes I have to interface with them. I’ve never done any malice, I’ve never said a cross word toward them, but every time they see me; in fact, sometimes they’ll even avoid me. They’ll see me coming and they’ll just turn the other way and walk the other way. And I’ve often thought to myself, you know, here, right in this passage I’ve just told you, I see a living being in front of me. And probably if we were examining this and sifting this, the very person that does this behavior, just like Simon the Pharisee, does not have any idea of how base he is. But, by the way, he walks around like a banty rooster. You know, he comes there, and you know, he’s just, you know; and very super spiritual. So, I’m telling you everything in the Bible to me is alive. There’s nothing here that’s just words on paper. But I’d like you to just catch the image here. To me, I look at this and I think to myself, Simon’s saying, “If you knew what type of woman this was,” and yet if I may say; and forgive me. I don’t mean to offend any woman in this building. But what other kind of woman is there? Or what other kind of man is there? You know, when we have the real understanding of who we are as people, oh dear, help us. I’ve said this to you many times where I’ve asked people, “Describe yourself.” “Well, I’m basically a good person.” And you know, while they’re saying that, I’m thinking, “Well, should I, should I interrupt them now, or should I just let them, you know, keep talking,” because that’s the problem. We have a twofold thing. We haven’t yet faced the reality of our nature, and when we face it, believe me you’d be really less quick to get the mouth going to describe your nature as good. And for the folks that are listening to me for the first time saying, “Yeah, but that’s contrary to what everyone else teaches, because everyone else is teaching that you’re good and you’re okay.” Well listen. If you don’t want grow in Christ, then stay with the mindset that you have been conditioned with, that you’re okay. But if you want to grow, the beginning of growth is the knowledge of the arrested development within the person. The reality is that if I take this image of background and foreground, what I’ve done in this, giving you a picture through the Bible, I’ve done two things. I’ve established the fact that the Pharisees are necessary to show how Christ is different from any other man on the stage of history, that how the Pharisees become necessary. In our everyday life we’ll encounter them. Now, Jesus did not at any point try and convince them of their wrongness. He made statements, declared certain things, and they were offended. What else is new? But if you take a close look at what I’ve done, you’re going to see a little tapestry going on. You’re going to see the painting taking shape. That is that all the people that Jesus interfaced with, that He had called to Himself, were all people of a base nature. We looked at Peter last week, just a simple fisherman. We’ve looked at people, characters and persons in the Bible who represent each and every one of us. And that’s why this ministry exists to lift up the banner, telling people about the grace of God. Thank God for His grace, thank God for what John described when he said, “The word came and dwelt among us, took up a tent of flesh and dwelt among us.” And what was revealed in Christ was grace and truth. And too much of the church world says, “Okay, now that you’ve heard grace and truth, why don’t you just get out there now and change those clothes? You better cleanup, shape up, behave right, start acting holy. And then we’ll talk to you; maybe.” Now let me tell you what this picture for me does. I see very clearly that the background, as I said, the Pharisees and at foreground I see Jesus. Now here’s where I have to apply a paradox. The paradox is something that is and is not at the same time. And the paradox in this case is for each one of us, the nearness of Christ; He’s our kinsman, He had to come in the flesh the flesh so could say, “Like He hungered, we hunger. He thirsted, we thirst. He prayed”━very much the kinsman requirements to redeem us coming in the flesh and being like us. That’s the nearness of Christ. And yet, the reality of distance, where we try to say we could be close to Christ and the paradox is in the reaching and the touching, when reality sets in, we realize how far apart from His holiness, from His purity, from His righteousness; from all the standard that He represents, which is why He came to these people. These three vignettes I’ve chosen to share; these three pictures, to show a sinful woman was not rebuked for reaching to touch. And in fact, there’s another picture somewhere else, the woman with the issue of blood, and she reaches to touch Him and physically touches Him. And He says, “Who touched me? I felt dunamis, dynamite go out of my body,” but never rebuked for the act of reaching. No matter where you are, you know, it could be as simplest message I think I’ve ever delivered, and it is the most difficult one, because no matter what we do, especially in the church world today people have brought in, Jesus said, “The traditions that make void the word of God.” So tell me how are you or I supposed to reach the qualifications of “good Christian men and women” by the standards of some person, who by the way isn’t living up to those standards either, but if you’re not, is there with the rod of the Word of God to just beat the shellacky out of you until you finally crumble under the pressure, leave the church or walk around with a guilt complex, because you just can’t measure up to their standards. Friends, you don’t need that and neither do I. This church is why, this message is why we stand boldly and declare the grace of God. I’m not your moral policeperson. I’ve heard people preach messages on this where they say, “And now Zacchaeus must become honest. And now the sinful woman, she must stop her sinning. And now the sinning multitude, that thronging crowd, they must somehow change and be good, pure citizens, be moral and ethical, and then they can have more communion with Jesus.” Boy, if that is your Christianity, I feel sorry for you, because through the Bible, even the Old Testament; do you remember the picture of Joshua standing with dirty garments? And I’m sorry to say this, it wasn’t the brethren that said, “Aw, look at those garments, they’re dirty.” It was Satan that came to accuse. It was Satan that pointed out. It was Satan. It’s always the same thing. Even the Pharisees used, in this day today, to make you doubt, to plant the seed. Well, we don’t do things like other people. I’ve told you the story about the fellow who came a couple years back, and his biggest contention was we didn’t have an altar call. And he felt like if there wasn’t an altar call he couldn’t attend, because the altar call was the proof that the message had taken hold for people while the preaching was going forth. If there wasn’t an altar call, there wasn’t proof. Oh, excuse me, can I; is there a bucket anywhere? Just for our, the friends that are here for the first time, and there may be one or two or three of you in the room here, but for the regulars, and I’m going to raise my hand first, I’ve never responded to an altar call, I never physically walked up to the altar. Anyone else with my condition, you never walk up━I’m talking about in this church━you never walked up to the altar? Yeah. So the point is; the point is… And I if I began to talk to you about the altar, which I’ve done a couple of times, it becomes disturbing. See Hebrews says we have an altar, which is Jesus Christ. We have an altar that those who still do service in the tent or the tabernacle have no right to. But we have an altar, which is Christ; not one made of wood or stone, but we have an altar, which is Christ. So when people say, “Altar call,” my mind immediately leaps to the book of Hebrews and I think does nobody read this book anymore? Is this so antiquated that people can’t deal with the fact, “Jesus the same yesterday, today and forever”? That means His office of calling people to Himself, just as I looked at right now, His office and work of calling people, sinners of which I’m, I’m leading the pack here, and anyone who wants to get behind me and say that they are too. He’s still calling men and women to Himself, “the same yesterday, today and forever.” The same cleansing power, the same for giving power; still operating today. Now, if that’s true, and I just quoted Hebrews then let me ask you a rhetorical question. Where do you read that any of these three pictures, the lady, the sinful lady, the sinner lady that was touching Him, the throng mass that was eating with Him, and Zacchaeus, where he went to abide with him in his house; where do we read that Jesus said, “These are the qualifications: you must come to the altar, you must say the prayer”? You see, you’ve heard this before. There isn’t any; so if Jesus hasn’t changed, and His message hasn’t changed, and I’m proclaiming His message today; the message of truth and grace. And message of truth is that no one can come, and no person can come, no one can say, “I, I now desire, I’ve made up my mind”━”I have desired to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back.” Okay, did you make that decision? Not. You know why? Because that’s the conditioned mindset of the church world, “You make a decision right now, and if you can make that decision right now; look, I’m going to look in that camera there.” No. Sorry. God chose you. The book of Ephesians says, “He chose you from among people He did not choose for Himself,” the Greek word is excelexato. He chose you for Himself. He called you. Now you may be like me and you responded a little later in life, because I was a little━the wax was built up and I couldn’t hear while He was calling, but the decision. You know, do we read about this woman here, did she say before she came in with that alabaster box, “Jesus, I know I’m a sinner, and I know I’ve been sinful, and I ask You to come into my heart today?” And Jesus said, “Repeat after Me”? It was a known fact, whatever type of a woman this was; and I’ve heard everything from she was a harlot to she had had many many husbands; whatever, whatever type of woman this was, He had already; He says it right at the end. He says to her; He’s now speaking to Simon, says, verse 47, 7:47; it’s not a plane, it’s a Scripture, “Wherefore 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. And he said unto her, thy sins are forgiven.” See the picture here. He didn’t make her go through any hoops, she came in and she poured out of herself, of her being and of her best, and He then says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Now, I wish if I can put this in a capsule today, and make something applicable for each one of us, in what I’ve now painted a painting; in the foreground is Christ, closer to us, much, much, much closer to us than the background of the Pharisees. And if you’ll forgive me, I have one person in mind I would like to just say a word to, generically so it’s not disclosed, personally. I received, I think it was a letter, it was a message anyway, about oh, a family person talking to a member of this church saying, how this church is probably not holy enough for them, and they’re not living a holy and righteous and perfect life, and they need to go and find what would be more conducive to a Christian life. Let me, let me tell you something. The genius of Dr. Scott asking this question begs for me to ask it of you today: what do you want from the people around you? Do you want perfection or do you want trust? And if you, if you should, God forbid, you should utter the word “perfection,” because there is no perfect one except for Christ. We all went trust and trust does never; trust never says, “You must be perfect.” Christ never said to any of these, “I expect you to live a righteous life now.” He said, “Your sins are forgiven. Go,” in fact, He says, “Thy faith has saved thee, go in peace.” And I tell you the same message today, especially for that one who the family member is being extremely harsh with, and telling you as your Pastor. It is the toughest decision a Christian will ever have to make. And whether you want to say what I’m going to say is heretical, but I’ve got more Bible to back this up. Jesus stood with His family wanting to put Him away, because they said, “He’s lost his mind. He’s crazy.” While He was doing His ministry they wanted to put Him away. And they said, “Jesus, your mother and your brothers are here.” And He said, “Who is my mother, and who is my brother, but those who do the will of the Father.” And by golly, if someone’s going to stand in the way if you doing what you feel God has called you to do, without the knowledge of the Scripture that backs this up, that “He that prefereth mother or father or children over me,” Jesus talking, “cannot even begin to be my learner, my disciple.” Now, you might say, “Well, that’s, that’s tough.” Well friends, I’m going to tell you something. I made the decision a long time ago. I made the decision probably more than 16 or 17 or 18 or how many years back that I was not going to feel the pressure of having to remain in a church that I did not belong to, in a profession, in a proclamation of something I did not believe in. And I left. And I physically left years before, but I finally said, “That’s it, I am not a part of that,” because at least, even back then, though I didn’t understand fully the Scriptures, I did understand that Jesus Christ is supposed to set us free not put us in bondage again. Never to be put in bondage again, that’s the message of Galatians. That’s the message of this whole Bible. “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.” No more back to that mount that brings death, but the mount that brings freedom is that mount the Jesus was; will eventually, His feet will touch down on. Don’t let people drag you back into that life that says, “Do,” and “You must,” and “You have to be.” Grace and truth come by way of Jesus Christ, not by somebody folding their arms and saying, “See, you better do it.” Now, I’m telling you as your Pastor, I’m telling you as someone who’s lived there, and who’s been there, family and friends will be most loving and they’ll also be your worst critic on your spiritual decisions. Dr. Scott used to say, “Don’t try and convert your family,” because a lot of times people would say, “Oh, you’ve got to hear, you’ve got to hear,” and they’d say, “Oh, I can’t listen to that,” or “What about that guy?” Or whatever their comments they’d make. And then, ultimately it would; it would force a schism. You know, there’s another scripture that says Jesus said He didn’t come to bring peace, but He came to bring a sword. To put; I’m sorry, “You know, I don’t like that Scripture,” to put a man at variance. “Well, I don’t like that. I like the friendly Jesus better.” “I have decided…” So, if we’re going to step back and look at this picture, I want it to speak to our hearts today. I don’t want this to be something where you say, “Well, I see the illustration you’ve given, I see the background,” which will always be the background. Know this, just like the poor; Jesus said, “The poor you’ll have with you always,” the Pharisees will always be there. They are the background. They put everything in context. But when you see Jesus, you begin to see the message of truth and grace. Don’t ever think for a minute that you’re going to walk this Christian walk and somehow everyone will file in behind you and say, “Yeah, let’s go. We’re marching to Zion together.” There’s always going to be a Pharisees in the back ground; just get that straight. It’s like that guy on, I think it’s on David Letterman. You know, he always appears in every picture? I don’t know what late-night show that is, but he’s in every picture. When they have these press conferences, he’s appearing, he’s in the background. That; it’s like that. They’re always there. Just get that in your head. Don’t try and say, “Well, get me, get me a paintbrush, so I can try and wipe them out and pretend they’re not there.” They’re always going to be there. And something else is always going to be there. Look at the people who He called to Himself. Now, I tell you the reason why I work with people incarcerated, I work with people who are part of AA, and I work with people that are part of NA, that’s Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous; and any other program where people have fallen off the wagon. And most churches say, “Yeah, we do this,” but they don’t want to deal with it. And I do understand. It’s not the church’s responsibility, we’re not; that’s not our problem. But it is my burden, because I understand these are people who most people don’t want to deal with. “Oh we love them, as long as they don’t come worship here.” No, no, no. This, as we’ve said many times, all are welcome here: sinners welcome. And the only criteria for coming in is that you desire to learn His Word and understand that it’s grace, and it’s the sphere of grace and His precious grace that lets us all stand together as His children, because of a truth, soul-searching moment right here in 30 seconds, of a truth. I speak for me and I bet you I speak for every person in this congregation. If you really have a right picture of God, and you have a right picture of yourself, it would force you to just put your hand in your head and say, “Oh God, how could He even deign to bother with me? Filthy and vile and despicable.” And then understand at that moment that I’m in His grace, covered, washed, cleansed, and yes, absolutely free. Let no person bring you back into bondage. These folks here, I’m sure as Jesus went on and continued on with His ministry, my guess is that some Pharisee or scribe, some one of these Rabbi teachers came and said, “Now woman, you have no place in the synagogue, get out. Jesus is gone, you go too. Zacchaeus, you can’t come in here, you don’t qualify.” Well, I’ll say to you, the doors are open for this church, and as long as we all understand we’re all in the same condition, then what a blessed, blessed concept to know that when I stand back to see this beautiful painting, I see Jesus in front of me. That like the woman, I can reach out and touch Him. Like the crowds, I can have fellowship with Him. And like Zacchaeus, except now, in the New Testament sense, He abides in me, because I abide in Him; a simple depiction of salvation and the grace that we all stand in today. That’s my message. You have been watching me, Pastor Melissa Scott, live from Glendale, California at Faith Center. If you would like to attend the service with us, Sunday morning at 11am, simply call 1-800-338-3030 to receive your pass. If you’d like more teaching and you would like to go straight to our website, the address is

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