Salvation is Free and Universal

SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY

 

Bible Passage: Luke 7:36-39.

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him.  And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.  37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.  39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

Memory Verse:

“FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE,”   John 3:16 (NIV).

In a previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we studied about the negative things the Pharisees and the Scribes said about John and Jesus.  We learnt that those words did not discourage Jesus at all.  Even though he was accused by the Pharisees, he did not turn down an invitation from a Pharisee known as Simon.  In this edition we want to look into what happened at Simon’s house during Jesus’ visit and make the point that salvation through Christ is free and universal.  The only requirement is faith in God through his Son Jesus Christ.

After Jesus had finished addressing the crowd including his disciples, a Pharisee found it necessary to invite him over to his house.  It is probable that he invited him because he fell in love with his words but was not really sure he was a genuine prophet.  Even though the Pharisees did not like Jesus because of his ministry, Jesus accepted his invitation without thinking about whether he meant well or not.  Jesus knew his thoughts but was not discouraged.  He saw a very good opportunity to share the gospel with him privately – perhaps he could get Simon to believe in the Gospel.  Jesus opened his arms to all those who invited him whether common or uncommon.  He responded to all those who went to him in faith.  He was willing to save anyone who expressed sincere faith in him.  Jesus did not sideline even his ‘enemies.’  He made himself accessible to all to show that he did not come for a particular set of people but the whole world.  This shows that God’s salvation plan for mankind is universal.

While in Simon the Pharisee’s house, Jesus was not accorded the courtesies Jews offered to their respected visitors.  This could be the result of his fear for man’s judgment.  However there was a woman who was known by all to be a sinner.  The particular sin she was noted for is not mentioned by Luke, but it may be related to her lifestyle and conversation.  Some scholars believe she was a well-known prostitute in the city.  Pharisees, like Simon who saw themselves to be righteous, did not associate with people like this woman.  In fact, the Pharisees felt contaminated with sin whenever they came into contact with people they regarded as sinners.  Under normal circumstances this woman would never have gone near a self-righteous and wealthy Pharisees as Simon.  Yet when she learned of Jesus’ visit to Simon, she garnered the courage to go when Jesus was relaxing and probably eating meat in his Simon’s house.  She defied what the people around would say about her.  She did not allow what people had to say about her to put fear in her.  She boldly joined the multitude trooping to Simon’s house because of Jesus’ presence.  She knew Jesus would receive her even though the people around her despised her.  She might probably have heard about Jesus’ call in Matthew 11:28 and responded to it. Jesus’ clarion call is:

“COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST”   (NIV).

It is important to remember that Jesus is still making this same call to all of us.  He is calling us to bring to him our burdens of sins, sicknesses and barrage of problems and he will save us.  When the sinful woman heard the call she did not let anything stop her from meeting Jesus.  She knew that Jesus could change her life for the better so she responded to his call.  What are your burdens beloved in Christ?  I want to encourage you to respond to Jesus’ call today and you will never regret you did.

When the woman got to Simon’s house, she saw Jesus seated the way Jews sit at table.  The woman stood behind Jesus.  Being filled with the sadness of her own sinful life, she mourned by weeping.  Her tears were so profuse that they wet Jesus’ feet.  She mourned for her own sins in the presence of the Master, trusting that Jesus would have mercy on her and grant her forgiveness of sins.  She acknowledged her sinfulness by emptying herself before the Lord and weeping bitterly.  When she realized her tears had wet Jesus’ feet, she did not use a towel to clean as was the custom, she used her own loose hairs to clean Jesus’ feet.  After that she poured the alabaster box of ointment, believed to be very expensive, on Jesus’ feet.  The sinful woman treated Jesus with more love and respect than the Pharisee who invited him to his house.

The woman did all this because of the realization of her sins and the desire to be saved completely by Jesus.  This is the kind of heart Jesus seeks.  Jesus is looking for those whose hearts are broken; those who will recognize their need for salvation and believe Jesus to be the only Savior. Such people are most welcomed into the family of Jesus.  Jesus will never turn down anyone whose heart is melted and has faith in him. His arms are opened to anyone who responds to his call of repentance.  Even if the whole world sees you to be hopeless, do not be afraid or shy to draw nearer to Jesus.  He is patiently waiting for you to make a move today and he will immediately enter into your heart and dwell with you forever.  There is hope of salvation for anyone who comes to Christ.  The only requirement is faith in the Son of God as the Savior.  God bless you for responding to Jesus’ call!

THE WORD OF THE LORD!

 

Salvation is Free and Universal (Part 2)

Bible Passage: Luke 7:39-50

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.  One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”  44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”

Memory Verse:

“FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE,”   John 3:16 (NIV).

After the woman had wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and poured the precious ointment on Jesus’ feet to show her love and appreciation to Jesus, Simon the Pharisee saw it differently.  Instead of praising the woman for her kind and humble heart, she looked at her sinful state as he knew her to be and despised her.  He thought in his heart that Jesus was entertaining a sinner.  He did not see that the woman was doing that as a response to Jesus’ call of repentance in his previous sermons.  Instead of thanking God for the change of heart of the woman, he saw only the negative side.  He did not see his own weaknesses, but the woman’s.  It is important to rejoice when people get closer to Jesus and give them all the encouragement they need instead of looking down upon them either secretly or openly.

Even though Simon, unlike other Pharisees, gathered the courage to invite and host Jesus, he was still not very sure of who Jesus is.  He thought in his heart that Jesus was not a prophet because in his own estimation Jesus should have known that the woman was a sinner.  He did not know that Jesus knew the woman, just as he knew Simon’s thoughts.

Jesus responded to Simon’s thoughts when he told him he had something to tell him.  Jesus told him a story to imply that God is able to forgive different people with different magnitude of sins in human estimation.  Jesus taught Simon that those who estimate their sins to be severe would normally find it necessary to show more love to the one who forgives them than those who see their sins to be little.  Jesus was trying to tell Simon that the woman’s action was an attitude of love and respect to Jesus for the way he opened his arms to her and accepted her the way she was.  She acknowledged her sinfulness and showed appreciation to Jesus by pouring expensive oil on Jesus’ feet.  Simon on the other hand showed little respect and love for Jesus because he saw himself to be more righteous than the woman.

It is important for those of us who have had our sins forgiven by the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to show our appreciation to him every day of our lives.  We must of necessary thank the Lord every day not only because of the food, clothing, shelter, and good health but especially our salvation.  Sometimes we forget how precious our salvation is and fail to thank God for that. If we fail to value our salvation, we are more likely to exchange it for anything else.  This sinner acknowledged her sinfulness, knew that Jesus had saved her and expressed her heartfelt gratitude to him.  She did not withhold her precious ointment from Jesus.  She valued the new hope and joy she found in the presence of Jesus than the ointment contained in the alabaster box.  She freely gave what was valuable in human estimation to express her gratitude for her salvation.

What are you willing to do for Jesus to express your gratitude for your salvation?  Are you willing to sacrifice your wealth, your time, knowledge, talents, skills etc. for Jesus as your gratitude for the free gift of salvation received?

It is very important to remind ourselves that it was not the woman’s love which opened the door for her salvation.  Her love and honour to Jesus was a result of the overflow of her heartfelt joy for what Jesus had done for her.  The woman’s salvation was through faith but not love.  This is supported by Jesus’ statement in Luke 7:50b which says:

“YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU; GO IN PEACE!”

She was saved because she believed Jesus’ words and accepted his invitation.  She believed that her sins had been forgiven and had received such peace as she had never experienced before.  She was thus looking for the opportunity to express her heartfelt gratitude to Jesus for her new found joy, peace and hope.  She did not just come to listen to Jesus but to express her gratitude to Jesus for what she had already obtained.  Jesus gave her assurance for her salvation by telling her; “YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN!” (v. 48).  He dismissed her with the assurance of peace and forgiveness.

The woman had her sins forgiven by Jesus not because of what she did, but through faith.  This buttresses the point made that salvation through Christ Jesus is free and universal.  It is not discriminatory as Simon the Pharisee thought.  Jesus did not come to save only a certain group of people; he came for the salvation of all who will come to him.  God does not look for those with more or less grievous sins in order to save.  His arms are opened to all who acknowledge their sinfulness.  His desire is to save the whole world.  This makes God’s salvation plan for mankind a universal one.  It is not limited to only a group or groups of people.

Salvation is not only universal, it is free.  The woman in the story did not do anything in order to have her sins forgiven.  She only believed and received forgiveness for her sins.  Her good works of service to Jesus, that is, the cleaning of Jesus’ feet with her hairs and the pouring of the ointment on his feet were the result of her changed heart.  She demonstrated her faith through her works of service out of love.  She gave meaning to the point that believers are saved unto good works.  Indeed salvation is free but one’s works bear witness to one’s salvation.  We cannot do anything to purchase our salvation but our good works will show our salvation.  May the LORD continue to grant us deep insight into his words as we continue to study!

THE WORD OF THE LORD!

 


Nana Kobina BaisiePastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.

 

Comments

Salvation is Free and Universal — 1 Comment

  1. I thank God everyday for my salvation. I wonder where would I be if I have not accepted him. A life without Jesus has no meaning. Thank you Man of God for this revelation! This is so true salvation is free. I thank God for your life my beloved for clarifying and analyzing the scriptures for us.
    This is marvelous and beautiful for the kingdom! God bless you! Amen