Friday, May 20, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 22, 2016

Over 103,000 readers worldwide
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CHILDLIKE FAITH
(JESUS blesses the children)
(Mark 10: 13-16)
   The healthy attitude of a child toward his or her parents should be one of trust and dependence upon them for their daily needs, their needs for, at least, the near future, their protection from hurt and harm, and, their teaching and training in those things that are right and pleasing to GOD. JESUS says that it is that same trust and attitude of faith that any responsible adult must have toward GOD, if, they are to be able to make their way into the Kingdom of Heaven.  For Scripture says that, “without faith, it is impossible to please GOD”, and that, “GOD will keep in perfect peace the mind that stays on HIM, because it trusts in HIM”, and that holds true, even while one still exists in this life, here on earth.
    In Mark chapter 10, verses 13-16, sandwiched between JESUS’ teachings on divorce and marriage, and HIS encounter with the rich young ruler, we find the account of when several parents were bringing their children (paidia) to JESUS so that HE could lay hands on them and bless them.
    JESUS, not being one who endorses a “boy’s club mentality” was indignant when HIS disciples, who were obviously feeling that children weren’t important enough to merit personal attention from HIM, tried to impede, or block the little ones from receiving their blessings from the LORD. We can also recall on another occasion (Luke 9:49-50) when these same disciples wanted to stop others, who weren’t in their “imagined clique” (boy’s club), from casting out demons in the name of JESUS. There JESUS reminded them that anyone who is not against you is for you.
     In other words, JESUS was trying to communicate that Christianity is not meant to be “exclusive”, but rather, it must be “all inclusive”, and anyone who chooses, of his or her own free will, to leave behind, the temporal things and attitude of this world, and partake in the eternal things of GOD, are indeed welcome to enter into the true family of CHRIST JESUS.
    In verse 14b JESUS tells HIS mistaken band of men to “allow the children to come to ME. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of GOD belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of GOD.” Here JESUS is saying that, if a person does not divest themselves of “the pride of life” that has so separated them from GOD, and repent, and humble themselves back to the state of what a child exists in, which is one of total dependence and trust (come to the end of “self” where JESUS is waiting), one can’t possibly enter into the greater life, which is in Heaven, where GOD can take us into HIS arms and bless us, just as JESUS does with the children in this passage (v.16), forevermore.  
    It is the humble ones who are in position to be received by GOD into Heaven. It is foolish to place our emphasis on people who seem to be most important, and are well received by the world that they try so hard to be like and impress, and then totally ignore the “little ones” (those who are meek and humble) who are important to GOD, and take pride only in their dependence on, and faith in, GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







Friday, May 13, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 15, 2016

Over 103,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

HUMBLE FAITH
(Prideful prayers are not honored by GOD)
(Luke 18:9-14)

   Prayer time should be a time when we set our lives beside the life of JESUS CHRIST, and be humbled, and not beside the life of other people, where we think we can be exalted. No one who rates his or her life above the life of others can utter a prayer that is honored by GOD. Unless we pray in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, we put ourselves in danger of lifting ourselves above our fellowman. The gates of Heaven are low, and the only way to enter through them is on our knees, both physically and spiritually.
    In Luke chapter 18, taking up at verse 9, JESUS shares the story of two men who simultaneously went into the Temple to pray one day. The Scriptures says that JESUS was telling this story to an audience who had great self-confidence in their petitions before GOD, and that, normally they would scorn those whom they thought were religiously inferior to themselves. In other words they were proud, eloquent, and arrogant.
    Now, one of the men was a Pharisee, and the other was a hated, dishonest tax collector whom few people liked or respected. In the first century devout Jews observed three prayer times each day (9 am, 12 noon, and 3 pm), and they felt that their prayers would be especially effective if they prayed them in the Temple.
    The Pharisee, was a man who took great pride in his ability to pray long, eloquent prayers, and was actually, whether wittingly or unwittingly, giving himself a great testimonial before GOD. In this passage JESUS says that this man stood by himself and prayed this particular prayer; “I thank YOU, GOD, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give YOU a tenth of my income”.
    In those days, not only did devout Pharisees fast twice a week, they made sure that the “little people” in town saw them doing it. They did this by putting on their most used-looking, tattered robes, that they saved for occasions of fasting, and they would go down to the marketplace on its busiest days (Mondays and Thursdays) so that as many people could see them as possible. They were also careful to tithe of the money that they would regularly steal from the poor, the orphans, and widows in the church.
    Contrastingly, standing at a distance from this prideful Pharisee was the ostracized tax collector, who dared not even so much as, lift his eyes up to Heaven before GOD, but rather, JESUS says that this humble man “beat his chest in sorrow”, saying, “O GOD, be merciful to me , for I am a sinner”.  This was the right reaction for a person who chooses to set themselves before GOD in order to petition for HIS mercy and help.
    When we set ourselves beside, what we consider to be, “the worst of society”, odds are, we stand to look pretty good, especially to ourselves. However, when we set ourselves beside the life of CHRIST JESUS, as we must do when we are in prayer (if we want GOD’s attention), we all can see quite clearly that we fall short of the glory of GOD. We can then put ourselves in the proper position of humbleness that is needed to receive mercy and forgiveness from the only SOURCE that can provide it, which is GOD.
    And so, in the end we see that it was the sinful tax collector, one of the most hated men in Israel, who returned home from that prayer session that day, being justified by GOD. And, as for the pride-laden Pharisee, he returned home unchanged, still too proud to request any special favors from GOD. He would, instead, have to continue to pray, useless, eloquent, arrogant prayers to himself, and, to men who enjoyed listening, but could not in any way help him with his issues. And to end this passage JESUS assures us that, when dealing with GOD, “…the proud (the Pharisee) will be humbled, but the humble (the tax collector) will be honored”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







      





Friday, May 6, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 8, 2016

Over 103,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GRATEFUL FAITH
(The rarity of man’s gratitude toward GOD)
(Luke 17:11-19)

   In Luke 17, verses 11-19, as JESUS and HIS faithful disciples move on toward HIS final visit to Jerusalem, and HIS appointment with death on the cross at Golgotha, somewhere near the border where Samaria meets Galilee, they meet up with a group of ten men that had all fallen prey to the dreaded disease called “leprosy”.
    As they entered into this certain village, the ten men, who were standing at a distance, shouted out to JESUS, saying, “JESUS, MASTER, have mercy on us!” JESUS then turned and looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (go to church). As the ten men walked along going to show themselves to the priests, the leprosy that had overtaken their bodies suddenly began to disappear from them until it was completely gone.
    Of the ten men that had cried out to JESUS for help that day, at least one was a Samaritan, and ironically, it was only he, who saw fit to return and thank the LORD for what HE had done for him. It was the Jews who always felt special and privileged about being “GOD’s chosen people” here on earth, however, sadly, few of them ever grasped the duty of responsibility that came with the assignment of being a light to the world, and showing the world, through their behavior, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women.
     “Responsibility” will always be the obverse of “privilege”, and we won’t ever be able to have one without the other. When we enjoy the privilege of being GOD’s children we must remember that we have a responsibility that begins with being “thankful” and “obedient” to GOD for the blessings that HE bestows upon our undeserving lives every day.
     GOD blesses us, with and through, provisions for our daily needs, despite our disobediences and sin against HIM (GOD the FATHER), and furthermore, HE forgives us for past, present, and future disobediences and sins, through the sacrificial blood of HIS only SON, JESUS CHRIST (GOD the SON), and finally, HE leads and guides us into a future of obedience to HIM through the power of HIS SPIRIT (GOD the HOLY SPIRIT).
    The Samaritan man who returned, showed through his actions, that he was more so, “a child of GOD” than those of the “chosen nation” of Israel. He came back to thank JESUS for what he had done for him, and he fell prostrate to the ground at JESUS’ feet, and he praised GOD for his healing.
    JESUS then inquired of the righteous man, saying, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Does only this Samaritan return to give glory to GOD?” These were all questions that the Samaritan man couldn’t answer of course, but JESUS, WHO knew the wickedness and lack of faith in the hearts of most men, even the Jews, said to the grateful man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has made you well”.
    JESUS healed, not only the Samaritan man who returned to thank HIM, but HE also healed the less deserving Jewish men who didn’t. However, none of us really ever deserve the goodness and mercy of GOD, no matter how good we think we are. We as Christians must all strive to stay focused on the greatest and only perfect “human example” that ever lived in this world, JESUS CHRIST, WHO can deliver all those who desire to “overcome” our carnal state of existence, and claim our place in the Kingdom of Heaven, that JESUS says, has been prepared for us, since the very foundation, of this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







Friday, April 29, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 1, 2016

Over 102,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

INCREASED FAITH
(Teaching about forgiveness and faith)
(Luke 17:1-10)

   In this world there will always be temptations to sin. Also, in this world, GOD will not hold blameless, any person who causes another person to stray. In the Greek, the word Luke uses for the phrase “temptations to sin” in verse 1 is “skandalon”, and it is from that word that we derive our English word “scandal”. Originally it meant “the bait in the trap”. However, over time it has come to mean “a stumbling block that is placed in a person’s way in order to trip them up”. Here in the opening lines of Luke 17, JESUS warns of how terrible a judgment it will be for anyone who intentionally tempts or teaches another Christian to sin, or leads that person away from the path of innocence, such as in the cases of misleading children (Vs.1-2).
    Then, just as suddenly as HE introduced the subject of “temptation”, and the terrible judgment that awaits the professed Christian who does the tempting in verses 1-3, in verse 4 JESUS turns and instructs the Christian victim of the tempting, of the need for them to “rebuke their offender” and, “if”, they come to them and repent from their wrongdoing, and request to be forgiven, they should be forgiven by those who were wronged. And even if they should offend you seven times a day, and then repent, then, seven times a day, as a Christian, you are obligated to “forgive” them.
    In this passage JESUS seems to shed a new light on the Christian practice of “turning the other cheek”, as here HE tells us to, first, “confront the sinner” for their wrong-doing, or offense against you, and then “if they repent” they should be forgiven. Here JESUS points out, from a new perspective, that, our forgiveness should not be of a “passive” nature. Our “willingness to forgive” must be just as sincere as the wrong-doer’s “repent and request to be forgiven”. In other words, if reconciliation is to be achieved, forgiveness has to be received, as well as extended.
    If a person is not willing to acknowledge guilt, that person cannot spiritually receive forgiveness from you. And even though we as Christians must always be ready and willing to forgive, JESUS says, we cannot truly say that we have forgiven a person in our heart until we have, first, confronted and rebuked the offender, and the offenders themselves have repented with GODly sorrow (Vs.3-4).
    Taking up at verse 5, the focus of JESUS’ teaching moves from “forgiveness” to “faith”, as one day the apostles asked HIM how they could obtain more “faith”. After hearing what JESUS had to say on “temptation” and “forgiveness” they began to realize how difficult it can be to accept the responsibility of “rebuking a person to induce repentance”, and then, “extending to them, sincere forgiveness”. They surmised that it would take a great deal of faith in order to reach that level of spirituality, or, “spiritual maturity”.
    However, in verse 6 JESUS surprisingly points out that it only takes “mustard seed sized faith” to say to a mulberry tree, “May GOD uproot you and throw you into the sea, and it would obey you!”. Here JESUS seems to be saying that, it is not so much about faith, as it is about having “self control” over the “gifts” and “faculties” that GOD gives us to ensure that we are able to overcome the various temptations that we may face in life, and still remain obedient to HIM, through it all. And, we must forgive others when they fail, just as GOD forgives us when we fail. The attitude of GOD is one of, both, “self control” (discipline), and, “longsuffering” (patient endurance).
    In verses 7-10 JESUS drives home HIS point with the telling of the story of a typical day in the life of any servant. HE says that when a servant comes home from attending his superior’s sheep, he doesn’t sit down and eat, but rather, he begins the task of preparing his superior’s meal first, and then, serves him. Afterwards, he may not even be thanked for his efforts because, it is understood that he is simply doing what he is supposed to do. In the same way, when we obey JESUS we should say, “We are not worthy of praise, but rather, we are servants who have simply done what we are supposed to do for our LORD and SAVIOR.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  
          





   

    

Friday, April 22, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 24, 2016

Over 102,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A FAMILY REUNION
(GOD gives us unmerited grace)
(Luke 15:11-32)

   One of the main reasons GOD give human beings grace is to teach us how to be gracious to others. We fail GOD when we allow HIS grace towards us to be taken for granted by us, or go unnoticed by us, and, as a result, give satan an opportunity to influence us instead with pride, envy, greed, and narcissism, as he did to the older son in Luke’s now famous account of JESUS’ parable of  “the prodigal son”, that is found only in his Gospel account.
    In Luke chapter 15, verses 11-32, JESUS uses the story of a man who had two sons, to illustrate HIS point further concerning the importance of retrieving those who are “lost”. The father in the parable of this biblical family represents “the attitude of GOD towards those who have wandered away from HIM” and are now “lost” or “dead” in the spiritual sense (separated from HIM).
    The younger son represents those in the world who are lost because they dared to leave the “protective umbrella of GOD” and arrogantly take their lives into their own hands, because their “pride” (which is satan), tells them that they can do better on their own. Little do they know that, whenever you remove yourself from underneath the umbrella of GOD, you inevitably will be “rained on” by satan.
    The older son in this parable, even though he believed that he was totally loyal to his father, is used to show us how we can start out serving GOD and, over time, “our motives for service” can turn to selfish ones, and here we can see in him, several evil elements, pride, envy, greed, and narcissism, that have taken him over during his years of service. He can be likened to the Pharisees in this passage.
    The story begins one day when the younger son, arrogantly assuming that he even had an inheritance, requested to his father that he might receive his right now, rather than wait until his father died, also arrogantly assuming, of course, that his father would pass away before he did. The good father in this parable, who had already prepared a place for his children in the future, agreed to prematurely advance to the younger son, his planned allocated share of his wealth (Vs.11-12).
    Now feeling certain that he could make it on his own without his father (and his rules), a few days later he packed his bags and ventured off to experience the world around him that he thought would give him all the freedom he wanted to do as he pleased. However, true followers of CHRIST know that true freedom can only be found in HIM. The younger son had mistakenly envied the wrong people in life, and so soon he would soon discover that the object of his desires would profoundly humble him back into his senses.
    And so he moved to the land of the unbelieving Gentiles – “foreigners” not in race, but rather, in their unGODly lifestyles). There he would squander all of his wealth on lascivious living, and as soon as he was broke, as the lessons of life would have it, along came a famine, which swept over the entire land (Vs.13-14).
    Now suffering from great hunger, and still having too much pride to return to his father’s house, the young man was able to persuade one of the local Gentile farmers to hire him to feed his swine, which was something that was absolutely detestable for a Jewish person to do, because they, through their upbringing, would normally not be seen anywhere near a pig, let along working with them. And not only did he work tending to, and feeding the swine, but, over time, as his hunger began to overcome him, he even began to desire the food (carob pods) that he was feeding to the pigs (Vs.15-16).
   When his living conditions finally began to humble him, he thought to himself how even his father’s servants had plenty to eat, and in fact, had food enough to spare, and here he was, so hungry, that the pig’s pods were starting to look good to him. And so he decided to go back home to his father’s house, and ask for forgiveness. All the way home he rehearsed the words which he would say to his father saying, “Father, I have sinned against both you and Heaven, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son, please take me back into your house, even if just as a hired servant” (Vs.17-19).
    As he neared his father’s house, and while still a ways off, his father, who had been anxiously anticipating his son’s return one day, saw him coming and was filled with joy. He ran to meet his son and embraced him, and kissed him. His son then told his father the words that he had rehearsed over and over on the way home. To his surprise his father greeted him with love and compassion and ordered his servants to tend to his needs and set up a feast to celebrate his return (Vs.20-24).
    Here we see a vivid picture of GOD’s attitude toward those who wish to repent and return to him. HE justifies us through the blood of CHRIST, HIS sacrificed SON, and HE begins to treat us as if we never sinned at all. The FATHER celebrates the return to life of any of HIS children who were “dead” (separated from HIM) by their quest for the people and things of this world.
    The older son, who had been working in the fields, returned home to the sound of loud music and celebration for his long lost brother’s return. He became very angry at his father for accepting his younger brother back into the family, and was very jealous and envious about him being given a party after he abandoned the family to seek after the pleasures of the world. In fact, he was so angry that he wouldn’t even go into the house (Vs.25-27).
    When his father came out of the house to plead with him to come in and help celebrate his brother’s return, he rebuked his father saying, “All these years I’ve worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to do. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours (here he disowns his younger brother) comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have” (Vs.29-30 – NLT)).
    Here we see the evil elements of pride (he still felt that his father owed him something for his service), envy (toward his brother), greed (because he too had received his inheritance), selfishness, and even narcissism ( he thought too highly of himself) all come pouring out of the heart  of the older son. Many people feel the same way about GOD, as this young man felt about his father, they think that through their “good works” they put GOD into their debt.
    The wise and understanding father replied to his older son, “Look my dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life again! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Vs.31-32 - NLT).
    It is never too late for any person, who still has blood running warm through their veins, to return to the FATHER GOD, WHO will always have a place prepared for us. The “right time” to come to the FATHER is always “right now”, and the “right way” to come is always, “just as you are”. And GOD will always celebrate with open arms, the return of even those who may be considered by others to be “the least of HIS children” in society.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 






Friday, April 15, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 17, 2016

Over 101,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A SOUND MIND
(JESUS has power over darkness)
(Luke 8:26-38)

   In Luke chapter 8, verses 26-38, we see Luke’s account of the story of a man, who was possessed by a group of demons calling themselves “Legion”. Here we see a rather bizarre thing occurring, and in order for us to understand this story, we must do our best to read between the lines. Like in many Biblical stories, the author may speak in terms that are difficult for the modern-day reader to comprehend, and here Luke’s account is no different. Here he speaks in terms that are familiar to the people of those times, but may seem very strange to us in this generation.
 After JESUS had showed HIS mastery over nature by calming the storm that surrounded HIMSELF and HIS crew of disciples as they were crossing over the Sea of Galilee, they headed for the land of the Gerasenes, or, Gadarenes, as they were also called. The Gadarenes inhabited a city called Gadara, which was the capital of the Roman province of Perea. It was located on the east side of the Jordan River, about ten miles from the Sea of Galilee, and opposite Tiberias.
When they had landed, we see that, just as JESUS is climbing out of the boat, a man possessed with many demons runs up to HIM and falls to his knees before HIM. Here we see that the demons inside the man recognized just WHO JESUS was, and after JESUS had commanded them to come out, they cried out in fear, saying, “Why are YOU bothering us JESUS, SON of the Most, High GOD? Please, I beg YOU, don’t torture us!”
    The demon’s name in this instance, which is “Legion”, gives us a clue as to how many demons may have been present inside the man. “Legion”, by definition, was “a Roman regiment consisting of 6000 troops”. We also see in this passage that, subsequently, JESUS cast the demons out of the man, into a herd of two thousand swine, causing them to run down a steep embankment, fall into the sea, and drown. One can only imagine that there must have been quite a storm going on inside of this demon-possessed man.
    Here we see JESUS, once again, showing us HIS mastery over satan and his demons. Here the demon-possessed man, recognizing the presence of JESUS, and having the storm inside of him being made calm by our LORD and SAVIOR, with the subsequent release of those demons from his body at the very command of HIS voice.
    The lesson to be learned here from this story and the previous story of JESUS’ calming of the storm at sea, is that, it doesn’t really matter if we are in the storm, like the disciples were in verses 22-25 of this chapter, or, the storms of sorrows, problems, and anxiety are in us, like this demon-possessed man in this second story, to recognize GOD as the object of our faith, is the key to gaining “peace of mind” and “soundness of mind” in our lives.
    Another thing that we can take away from these passages is that, it doesn’t really matter so much what JESUS did to bring soundness of mind to the demon-possessed man here in this passage. Nor does it matter what HE did on that night, when HE spoke to the sea, “Peace be still”, and the winds too, did obey. And nor, does it even matter what JESUS did one morning on a different occasion in far-off Palestine, when HE walked on water, to encourage Peter and those same disciples to put away their fears and anxieties (Mark 6:45-52).
    What we really need to understand here is that, these miracles represent to us, a sign, and a symbol of what GOD always does for those who have faith, and believe in HIM. And they say in effect, that, when we are in danger of being overwhelmed by the “storms of life”, GOD, will keep in perfect peace, the mind that stays on HIM, because it trusts HIM. Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







Friday, April 8, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 10, 2016

Over 101,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A FRESH START
(Faith expressed through love and forgiveness)
(Luke 7:36-50)

   Two days before the Passover celebration and the Festival of unleavened bread in Jerusalem, the leading priests, Pharisees, and teachers of religious law were busy looking for an opportunity to secretly capture JESUS and put HIM to death. However, they had all agreed that they would not attempt anything until after the Passover because they feared that, because of JESUS’ popularity among the people, a move on HIS life might cause a riot at that time.
    Meanwhile JESUS, ironically, was in Bethany visiting the home of another Pharisee named Simon, who was also a leper. Simon had invited JESUS to his home to have a meal with him and some of his other guests. It was customary that whenever a respected Rabbi was attending a meal in a well-to-do person’s home, which contained an outer courtyard such as Simon’s did, that people would wander into the gathering in order to take in some of the knowledge and wisdom that was being imparted.
    Traditionally, when the special guest arrived, there would be a customary three-part ritual that would take place between the host and his guest. First, the host would place his hand on the shoulder of the guest and welcome them with a hug and a kiss. Secondly, the host would have one of his servants to pour cold water on the guest’s feet to clean and comfort them. And then finally, either a pinch of sweet smelling incense was burned, or a drop of rose fragrant oil would be applied to the head of the guest. In the case of JESUS’ visit with Simon, HE did not receive this traditional honor, and JESUS would remind Simon of this later in verses 44-46.
    In biblical times, when the Jews ate a meal, they would do so while lying in an inclined position, on low couches, using one of their arms to prop them up, at a very low table. This explains how the so-called, “immoral woman” was able to kneel down behind JESUS near HIS feet as it is described in verse 38a.
    At any rate, this certain woman, who had heard that JESUS was going to be present at Simon’s dinner, came prepared to anoint HIM with some fairly expensive perfume that was contained in a beautiful jar. She knelt down behind JESUS, at HIS feet, and began to sob bitterly, and her tears were so plentiful, that, she was able to wash JESUS’s feet with them.
    When she began to wipe her tears from JESUS’ feet with her own hair, and then proceeded to kiss HIS feet, while applying the expensive perfume to them, Simon began to protest to himself, thinking “This proves that JESUS is no prophet. If GOD had really sent HIM, HE would know what kind of a woman is touching HIM. She’s a sinner!”
    Reading the innermost thoughts of the confused host, JESUS said to him, “I have something to say to you Simon”, and HE began to teach the Pharisee a lesson in “forgiveness”, as HE relates to him, a parable of a man who had loaned money to two different individuals, who weren’t able to repay the debt. One individual owed the man 500 pieces of silver, while the other owed 50 pieces. The kind man decided to forgive both men of their debt to him, tearing up both of their bills.
    Then JESUS asked Simon which man do you think was the most appreciative of what the lender did for them, and who showed the man the most love? Simon replied, “Why it is the one whom he forgave the most debt”. “That’s correct”, JESUS said, and HE then turned to the woman and reminded Simon that he had neglected to honor HIM in the traditional way when HE arrived at his home, and yet this woman, by washing JESUS’ feet with her tears of “repent”, and wiping away those tears with her hair, kissing HIS feet, and then anointing them with costly perfume, had not only honored JESUS in the traditional way, but she had also honored HIM in a truly “sacrificial and personal, intimate way.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “forgive” is “aphemi” and it means “to send away” or “wipe away”, in this case, sin. In verse 47 of this passage JESUS says to Simon, “I tell you, her sins, and they are many, have been forgiven, and so she has shown ME much love. But the person who is forgiven little shows only a little love”. Then JESUS turned to the woman and made a statement that all Pharisees, and teachers of the religious hierarchy of the day, believed only GOD can make, when HE said, “Your sins are forgiven”.
    By making such a statement, JESUS was leaving no doubt, and actually declaring to the religious hierarchy in Israel, that HE has the authority of GOD over mankind to, not only, forgive sin, but indeed, over all things here on earth. The men at the table of honor were indignant and began to murmur among themselves, saying, “WHO does HE think HE is, going around forgiving sin?” And JESUS said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”
    The reason why JESUS once stated that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of heaven is because, the rich are those who are least likely to be conscious of any needs in this life. Simon in this story wasn’t conscience of any need for forgiveness, and therefore, felt no love for JESUS. This is evidenced in his failure to treat JESUS as, even ordinary guests were treated in those days by the hosts. He felt no love for JESUS, and so he could receive no forgiveness from JESUS, WHO is GOD.
    Simon felt that he was a “good man” before men and GOD, and through his own efforts, he had put himself in a position where all of his needs could be met by either his wealth and/or, his position of power, despite the fact that he was, even then, saddled by an incurable disease called leprosy, which could have been eradicated by JESUS, had he humbled him enough to ask.
    The lowly woman in this passage, on the other hand, was fully conscience of her need for forgiveness for her many sins, and she had much love for JESUS, the only ONE WHO could grant that forgiveness to her. Her love for JESUS was manifested through her behavior towards JESUS at the dinner, and her desire to change was greater than her desire to remain the same. She showed an overwhelming love for JESUS, and JESUS granted her forgiveness, because of HIS overwhelming love for her.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander