Originally scheduled for April 2
The story is a familiar one to us. We might
look at it from a little bit different angle this morning, beginning
with the Pharisee. He comes to this meeting with a certain set of
preconceived ideas, particularly concerning what Jesus would know.
Jesus will know what kind of a woman
this is — a prostitute. He could probably tell this from her
clothing, and certainly the fact that she let her hair down in
public was another indicator.
Jesus will know that she is a
successful prostitute — she makes good money at it. That perfume is
Jesus will condemn the sin of
prostitution — which he does when he says “go and sin no more.”
The one expectation the Pharisee has the Jesus
does not meet is that he expects him to condemn the woman like he
does. If you condemn prostitution, don’t you therefore condemn the
prostitutes? This presents Jesus with a small problem: how to
convince Simon, the Pharisee, that Christ’s way is the right way?
Jesus chooses to use the art of parable to
explain it. Parables are simple, and easy to understand; so much so
that Simon is not quite sure this isn’t a trap. And it certainly
convinces him that those who have been forgiven much will love much.
But there is another lesson in here. We also understand that there
is no one too sinful for God’s grace.
This leads us to a question for the church: is
the repentant sinner welcome at God’s table? In thinking this
through there are a few points we might want to consider:
Taking communion is, at least
symbolically, taking sides in the great struggle of our world. By
taking communion you say that you belong to God, not to the world
and its pride.
Taking communion in an “unworthy
manner” is something which the Scriptures solemnly warned us not to
There exists no scrutiny in the
Scriptures for Communion other than this: “let a man examine
himself.” I know of no Scripture which requires the church to be a
gatekeeper for Communion.
Who knows? Unknown to others, you might just be
that repentant sinner. It could happen to any of us; which makes it
fortunate that all repentant sinners are welcome at God’s table.