There are times and occasions when we expect people to cry. We expect people to cry when there is a disaster. We expect people to cry when they learn of a serious illness or death in the family. We expect people to cry at a funeral. We expect people to cry when they experience a unexpected, radical, severe change. When we see a person crying at such times or in such circumstances, we understand. No one has to explain why the person is crying.

There are times and occasions when people cry that we see no reason for tears. When we see someone crying, and we see no reason for tears, we ask, "Why is she crying?" or "Why is he crying?" If a person cries, it is for a reason.

  1. Luke wrote about a fascinating incident in Jesus' life (Luke 7:36-50).
    1. A curious Pharisee extended an invitation to Jesus and to some other people of the town to have a meal in his home.
      1. Nothing in the context suggests that the Pharisee had a serious intention of learning from Jesus.
        1. This country preacher was the rage of all Palestine.
        2. The popularity of this miracle worker was beyond exaggeration.
        3. The Pharisee wanted to look at Jesus "up close and personal."
      2. After the meal began, a highly unusual thing happened.
        1. An immoral woman, likely a prostitute, came into the Pharisee's house uninvited and unwelcome.
        2. She went to Jesus and stood at his feet as he lay on a couch eating.
        3. Likely at any other time the Pharisee would have had her thrown out of the house immediately.
        4. However, his curiosity was greater than his indignant feelings.
      3. What she did was totally, absolutely unacceptable as public behavior.
        1. She wept so hard that her tears wet Jesus' feet.
        2. She let her hair down (absolutely forbidden!) and dried Jesus' feet.
        3. She repeatedly kissed his feet (absolutely forbidden!) and anointed his feet with an expensive perfume that she brought.
        4. She continued to wash, dry, kiss, and anoint Jesus' feet.
      4. The Pharisee was fascinated by this entire spectacle.
        1. He thought to himself, "If this man was a prophet, he would know who this woman is."
        2. "He would know that she was immoral (the Pharisee knew who and what she was), and he would not allow her to touch him."
    2. Jesus knew what Simon was thinking.
      1. He taught Simon a private, pointed lesson.
      2. The person who is forgiven much loves deeply.
      3. The person who is forgiven little loves little.
      4. Then he said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."

  2. Would you ask and answer this question: "Why was the woman crying?"
    1. The woman was crying because of what she knew.
      1. She knew what she was.
        1. She was the town prostitute.
        2. Everyone, including the Pharisee, knew what she was.
        3. There was not the slightest question about what she was.
      2. According to the Jewish law, she knew what she deserved.
        1. In the Mosaical law, the punishments for sexual sin were quite severe (Deuteronomy 22:13-20).
        2. She knew that men of the town tolerated her because she served a purpose, but she knew that was the only reason she was tolerated.
      3. She knew that she was worth nothing.
        1. There were few ways for a woman to support herself.
        2. The majority of people lived in poverty, so if your husband died and no one married you, prostitution was one of the few available options.
        3. Many women were reduced to prostitution.
    2. Do you understand what prostitution does to a woman's mind, heart, and self-image?
      1. Before the act you are wonderful, you are important, you are desirable.
        1. In a society that considers itself to be moral, after the act you immediately become a problem for the man.
        2. Sneak in, flatter, pay, sneak out.
        3. "In public I don't know you, and you don't know me."
      2. Nothing can hide the fact that you are used.
        1. How many times of being used does it take to make you hard, cynical, bitter, and distrustful?
        2. How long does it take for you to realize that no man honestly cares about you as a person; you are a thing to be used, not a person.
    3. Jesus could see past the hardness, past the bitterness, past the distrust, past the pain, and as he looked past all of that, Jesus cared.
      1. How long had it been since she encountered a man who cared about her?
      2. How long had it been since she met a man who understood?
      3. How long had it been since she knew a man who would not use her and reject her?
      4. And she cried, no, she sobbed.
        1. In a house where she was unwelcome, she sobbed.
        2. Among men who looked at her as worse than nothing, she sobbed.
        3. In a place she did not belong, she cried, openly, deeply, without shame.
    4. Where did her tears come from?
      1. The tears came from her grief.
      2. The tears came from her gratitude.
      3. The tears came from her sorrow.
      4. Those are the tears of conversion.

  3. And Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
    1. Forgiveness? Do you think anyone had ever forgiven her?
      1. She felt used, like a nothing, like a nobody, like she was not a real person.
      2. Forgiven? As though she mattered? As though she was a person?
      3. She could be forgiven, after the life she lived?
    2. Which had you rather hear?
      1. The Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes tell you that you have won $10,000,000?
      2. A travel agency tell you that you have won an eight day, all expense paid cruise on the Caribbean?
      3. The General Motors Company tell you that you have won a new luxury car?
      4. Or Jesus tell you, "Your sins are forgiven?"
    3. Have you received an honor that moved you deeply?
      1. Have you felt moved because you were picked to be on an all-star team?
      2. Have you been honored as being the best at what you do?
      3. Have you been given a place in a prestigious group?
      4. Have you ever won an award?
      5. Have you ever felt any sense of honor in the fact that the eternal God offers you forgiveness?
      6. No honor any person can ever receive in this life will begin to equal the honor of having Jesus say, "Your sins are forgiven."
        1. May we understand that honor before we die.
        2. The moment we die, every earthly honor stays right here.
        3. Only love and forgiveness travels with us through death.

  4. Any serious attempt to restore New Testament Christianity must be committed to restoring conversion to Jesus Christ.
    1. Conversion to Jesus Christ is the heart, the soul, and the core of Christianity.
      1. The heart of New Testament Christianity is not behavior modification.
      2. It is not building better habits.
      3. It is not learning the correct rituals.
      4. It is not about practicing better traditions.
    2. The heart of New Testament Christianity is found only by seeking and accepting forgiveness.
      1. Christianity is about needing forgiveness.
      2. It is about wanting forgiveness.
      3. It is about seeking forgiveness.
      4. It is about finding forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
      5. It is about gratitude for forgiveness.
      6. It is about the peace found through forgiveness.
      7. It is about relationship with God given to us through the forgiveness made possible by Jesus Christ's blood.
      8. Christianity is about life that comes because forgiveness is given.

    [Song of Reflection: Amazing Grace, # 129]

  5. We live in a skeptical, cynical, deeply distrustful society.
    1. Many things are ineffective in calling the people of this society to Christ.
      1. Telling people that "we know more about the Bible than you do" will not impress many people.
        1. Many will say, "So what?"
        2. They know we know more Bible than they do; so what?
      2. Telling people that "we understand the Bible better than you do" does not impress many people either.
        1. Again, many will say the same "so what?"
        2. Some will vigorously disagree with that claim.
    2. Most people with little or no religious background do not believe that Christians have found anything in Jesus Christ that would benefit their lives.
      1. Many people have zero interest in what we believe until they see two things.
        1. They must see that what we believe causes us to care.
        2. They must see that what we believe blesses our lives on a daily basis.
      2. The faith that produces a fulfilled life worth living impresses them.
      3. A relationship with God that enables us to cope with life impresses them.
      4. When living in Christ produces better marriages, better parents, better neighbors, better friends, better workers, and just plain better people, that impresses them.
    3. Our genuine conversion to Christ creates opportunities to share Christ.

Have you ever been converted, or have you only complied with what you were told to do? Compliance is not conversion.

Many prostitutes saw and heard Jesus. This prostitute came to Jesus crying. Why? She knew what she was. She knew what she deserved. She knew Jesus cared.

Have you ever cried when you came to Jesus? Have you ever realized who you are? Have you ever realized what you deserve? Do you understand that Jesus cares? Has Jesus said to you, "Your sins are forgiven?"

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 7 March 1999

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell