A Meal to Remember
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A Meal to Remember

Luke 7:36–50  (ID: 3575)

When Jesus accepted an invitation to dine with a Pharisee, it quickly became a meal few would forget! An uninvited, despised woman created a stir when she intruded upon the scene and offered an extravagant demonstration of devotion to Christ. Walking us through the extraordinary event, the various reactions, and Jesus’ intervention, Alistair Begg explains that love, not morality, is the measure of forgiveness. Only when we humbly acknowledge our sin and our need for a Savior do we discover true and lasting peace.

Sermon Transcript: Print

Now I invite you to turn with me to the New Testament and to the Gospel of Luke and to follow along as I read from Luke 7:36 through to the end of the chapter.

Luke chapter 7 and from verse 36:

“One of the Pharisees asked him”—that is, Jesus—“to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment,” or perfume. “Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she[’s] a sinner.’ And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘Say it, Teacher.’

“‘A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ And he said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”


Our gracious God, we look to your Word, and we listen for your voice. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Invitation

Well, we read it, and we’re not going to reread it, but you will have your gaze, I hope, on verse 36, where… And I just have three words, I think, this morning, that I’m going to use. The first word is obvious and straightforward: here we have in verse 36 the invitation. The invitation. And we are told by Luke that “one of the Pharisees…”

Now, the Pharisees have already featured in the opening chapters of Luke, perhaps classically in chapter 5, if you want to turn back for just a moment, on the occasion where another meal was taking place—not what we’re going to refer to this morning as this meal, “A Meal to Remember,” but it was a meal at the home of Levi. And on that occasion, the Pharisees were grumbling on account of the fact that Jesus was inviting people like Levi and other tax collectors and sinners to be part of the celebration. And at the end of that little section, in verse 32, Jesus says to them, “Listen, you need to know that my purpose is to invite sinners to turn from their sins. It is not to spend time with those who think themselves already good enough.”[1] So he’s stating his case very clearly: “My purpose is to spend time with sinners who know themselves to be in need of forgiveness rather than to spend time with people who think they’re good enough already.”

When you get into chapter 6, the Pharisees, we’re told, were looking for an opportunity to catch him out. They were seeking to accuse him, and they were looking for ways to see what they might do to Jesus. That’s as a result of what happened on the Sabbath, when a man with a withered hand had been restored, and instead of them going, “What a wonderful day this has been! How tremendous that this man has been so radically changed!”—no, no: “[And] they were filled”—6:11—“they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

The work of Jesus in the lives of people transcends all the demographics. He was glad to be in the company of those who were aware of their need, and now he takes the opportunity to be in the company of one who is not so clear.

And now here we are in chapter 7: “One of the Pharisees…” We don’t know whether he has invited Jesus here on account of the fact that the group from which he has come are looking for ways to trap him and accuse him. We don’t know whether that is true. We don’t know whether he is distinct from them in some measure, and instead of looking for a way to trap Jesus, he is looking to see if there is a basis for him to trust Jesus. He certainly extends to him a courtesy by way of the invitation. It is, as we will see, a limited courtesy—or a controlled courtesy, if you like—and Luke wants us to understand the identity of this man.

So in verse 36, twice he’s referred to as “the Pharisee,” “the Pharisee’s house”; in verse 37, once again he is the person of “the Pharisee’s house”; and in verse 39: “Now when the Pharisee who[’d] invited him…” So again, by way of repetition, we recognize that Luke is saying to us, “Now, don’t miss the fact that this encounter is taking place in the Pharisee’s house.” It is in the Pharisee’s house that we are given this meal to remember. And we’re told that Jesus has accepted the invitation, reminding us, as the readers of the Gospel, that the work of Jesus in the lives of people transcends all the demographics. He was glad to be in the company of those who were aware of their need, and now he takes the opportunity to be in the company of one who is not so clear.

We mustn’t begin to think in terms of our homes and our dining rooms. The fact that Jesus was “reclining at [the] table” is an indication of what was taking place. I think you can still buy what is called a triclinium in contemporary furniture, but it dates to the early centuries, where, instead of sitting down to eat, then at a banquet, the people would lie down to eat. So they would lie down on one side; if they’re right-handed, they would lie down on their left side. That position was believed to aid digestion in the process. And so their feet and their legs would be out behind them.

So the picture there is of Jesus in a horizontal position. They’re not in a formal dining room. It may well be that they are in a courtyard, that they are outdoors, because it was not uncommon in this period of time (and, indeed, in Roman culture beyond this time) for events like this to have, although by private invitation, a group—an extended group of people—who may actually show up. And they may show up for a variety of reasons. We know why this lady is showing up, but others may just have come because when someone of significance was going to a house like this, there may be an opportunity to hear what that person has to say; they maybe have an opportunity to ask a question or so. And so there would be bystanders, observers, and actually probably what we might refer to as respectable scavengers looking for the opportunity as the meal comes to a close to see if there’s some nice, juicy leftover morsels à la the second day or the day after Thanksgiving. There they are, and that is the picture: the invitation.

The Intruder

Secondly, the intruder. The intruder. Verse 37: “And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner…” She arrives uninvited. She is unnamed. She is anonymous. Presumably, Luke has determined not to include her name in order that he might protect, as it were, her life and her background and her story. She doesn’t have a speaking part at all. She never says a word. In fact, as you look from verse 36 all the way down to the end of verse 39, no one is saying anything. My wife and I watched a movie last week sometime, and it was a war movie. And I said to her, “Is there any dialogue in this thing at all?” Because from the opening credits for about three or four minutes into it, nobody said a word. Simply the camera was panning the scene, was setting the scene. And that’s what you have here, actually. The camera pans the scene. There’s not a word. Nobody’s saying anything.

Now, imagine this. Into this context this woman arrives. Who is she? Well, she’s not named, but she is described as “a woman of the city, who was a sinner.” How did she come to be there? Well, presumably, she heard from whatever source—if you like, the word on the street, because she was essentially a woman of the street—that the word on the street was that Jesus was having a meal at the house of Simon the Pharisee.

Now, it’s very important in reading this story—and I’ve had to work on this quite hard during the week—to come to the realization, which I think is entirely justifiable, that this is not the first occasion when this woman met Jesus, that there had been a prior encounter. It may actually even have been, for example, in 5:29, at that great feast at Levi’s house, where it says, “There [were] a large [number] of tax collectors and others reclining at [the] table with them.” It may have been—as J. C. Ryle suggests,[2] leading us to Matthew chapter 11—on the occasion when Jesus turns to the group, and he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[3] Somewhere along the line, she had met Jesus, and she had found forgiveness and a fresh start. I’ll explain why that is an accurate exposition the further we get into the story. But follow along with me for now: that some place along the line, she had discovered who Jesus is, what Jesus was coming to do, and how Jesus would give her an entire redo, a completely new start.

Therefore, I suggest to you that it was love that drew her to Simon’s house. It was love. There’s no defiance in the description of the woman here. It’s not like she shows up singing, you know, “It’s your party, and I’ll come if I want to,” as a sort of defiant gesture. But no, she comes in humility. And notice, verse 37: “And behold, a woman of the city…” You don’t want to go through your Bible and look every time the word behold comes, but it often is like a big, flashing light. The very beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1: “And behold, God created everything, and behold, it was very good.”[4] John the Baptist, on one side of the Jordan, he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[5] People don’t just routinely… Your children don’t say when they’re driving in the car, “Oh, behold! McDonald’s on the left-hand side!” If they do, you should probably have a little conversation with them. But the point is: “Behold! Look at this! Get a look at this!” That’s what’s being said. “Behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner…” This is extraordinary. This doesn’t happen at the usual meals. This is a meal that’s going to be remembered forever.

Notice that her appearance is purposeful: “When she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house,” she “brought an alabaster flask of ointment.” “Ointment” is not really very good there. It should be “perfume.” It should be… Because what they used in oil was just olive oil, in anointing people’s heads. In this alabaster jar, which may well have been a dowry—it was a very special thing. It wasn’t something that she picked up at the equivalent of CVS on the way to the meal. No, it may have been something that she wore around her neck, a small alabaster vial. The very container was precious, and the contents of it were not to be used willy-nilly. It wasn’t just something that you would dispense with on any occasion, any day. And Luke says to us, “Now, you better notice that when she shows up, he was reclining at the table, and she brought an alabaster flask containing this perfumed oil.” So I suggest to you that her arrival was purposeful, and it also, as we will see, was self-forgetful. She wasn’t there to present herself. She is obviously prepared to endure the stares of contempt. She is prepared, obviously, to accept the fact that she will be despised for her extravagant gesture. This is a courageous lady.

And notice what we’re told: “and standing behind him…” As soon as you remember, again, that he is reclining, that his legs are out behind him, that is how she would be able to be in that position. “Standing behind him at his feet,” she weeps. And this is not Hollywood weeping. No, this is weeping where your nose runs. This is weeping where you weep enough to actually create enough moisture to wet the feet of the person you’re standing behind. This is significant! She weeps. “She began to wet his feet with her tears,” and she “wiped them with the hair of her head.”

Did she look around as people saw the scene unfold and wonder if anyone would pass her, if you like, even a napkin? Even a towel? Even something to see what she’s dealing with? Because remember, when a woman took her hair up on the night of her wedding, she never took it down again in public. To take your hair down in public was akin to going topless at the pond. No, I say to you, look at this. And she “wiped them with the hair of her head.” She “kissed his feet.” She “anointed them with the [perfumed] ointment.” What she did was socially taboo. But it’s not erotic. Her erotic days are in the past. Don’t miss this. She knew—she knew—what it was like to be what she was, but she knew that she was no longer what she was. She had looked for love in all the wrong faces. And now she bows at his feet.

Now, all of this that I’ve just tried to describe for you is there in the text. And there is nothing in the text that tells us why this is happening. It’s simply a description. Jesus was invited. He went. He was reclining. The lady showed up, and she did all of this. So we’re not told why it’s happening. But we are told, you will notice in verse 39, what the Pharisee is thinking. What is the Pharisee thinking? “When the Pharisee who[’d] invited him saw” her—“saw this,” actually, not “saw her”; this display—“he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet…’”

Now, Luke 7:11 and following—you need to back up to there, where Jesus raises the widow of Nain’s son. And in the drama of that great moment, as the boy begins to come to life, the declaration of the people is—verse 16b—“‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’ And this report about him spread through[out] the whole of Judea and all [of] the surrounding country.” So the people said, “If you were there and you saw that happen, you’ve got to know that a great prophet has arisen. God is present now.” Simon looks at this, and he says, “I don’t think so. No. No. If he were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

You see, what he’s saying is “If he was a prophet of God, then it would have been apparent, because when she started to do this, he would have pushed her away. He would have said, ‘No, you’ll make me ceremonially unclean. You can’t touch me. I don’t touch people like you, and you don’t touch me.’” You see, the Pharisee is horrified. He’s absolutely horrified.

Incidentally and in passing, pharisees will always have great difficulty with extravagant displays of affection on the part of people who really, actually love Jesus—who actually love Jesus. If you’re just a moralist, if you have just decided that religion is a kind of cleanup act, that it is external to your life, you will never understand why it is that people would say, “My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; for thee all the follies of sin I resign.”[6] You look at that and say, “I don’t know what that’s about at all. I don’t know what that’s about. We didn’t get that in my church. No, we never did that.”

That’s what’s happening here. He didn’t understand this extravagant expression of love, this extravagant expression of thanksgiving. And you will notice: “Jesus answering said to him…” But he hadn’t said anything! He “said to himself,” and Jesus answered. Why? Well, he’s making it clear to him, “Not only do I know who and what this lady is, but Simon, I know who and what you are.” Hmm! You see, sometimes we’re tempted to think that Jesus doesn’t actually know. Jesus knows everything about us. He knows all the good, all the bad, all the ugly. He knows us. And this man is going to make a great discovery on that.

The Intervention

So, the invitation. The intruder; we called her an intruder, in not an unkind way, but she does intrude upon the proceedings. And then the intervention—at least part one of the intervention: “And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’” And he said, “Well, go ahead.” “Say it, Teacher.”

Jesus knows everything about us. He knows all the good, all the bad, all the ugly. He knows us.

And then Jesus provides this little parable. You see it there in 41: “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred, … the other fifty”—so one was out ten times in a greater predicament than the other. And when they couldn’t pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now, the picture here is very clear, isn’t it? “Debtor” here is, if you like, just code language for “sinner.” For “sinner.” We know that when we say the Lord’s Prayer together, don’t we? “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,”[7] or “Forgive our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”[8]

Now, the point here is that neither of these two individuals could pay. They’re both in the exact same category: they are indebted. And Jesus is about to establish very clearly the significance of the response of the woman. And he does so in light of the fact that Simon is actually forced, I take it reluctantly, to answer the question: “Which of them will love him more?” Who will love him more? If one guy still had $280,000 on his mortgage, and another guy had $280,000 divided by ten—had $28,000 (hundred, whatever) on—he had a car payment left of that, of $2,800, and the guy had $280,000 on his house, and he forgave him—“The entire mortgage is cleared, and your car payment is gone”—who would give him the biggest hug? “Well, I suppose…” What do you mean, you suppose? What’s your problem here, Simon? “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” “And he said to him”—Jesus said to him, “‘[Well,] you have judged rightly.’”

Now, let me pause here, as it were, for a moment, and let’s get this clear in our mind about what is happening. Pharisees were, like, fairly normal people. Pharisees were moral people. Pharisees were upright people. Pharisees were rule keepers. Pharisees knew that if they were really on their game, they would make sure that they steered clear of any of the sinners—the tax collectors and this kind of woman. Pharisees were blind to their own sinfulness and blind to their need of forgiveness. In fact, Simon’s commitment as a Pharisee to moral tidiness had no capacity for dealing with this kind of woman, because his whole life was about “I am thinking correctly, I am living correctly, I am doing this, and I am steering clear of that.”

Now, if you’re listening to me, you will realize that twenty-first century pharisees can be found in all congregations. In fact, the spirit of the Pharisee looms large when we look at our own lives, when we say to ourselves, “Now, wait a minute…” It’s akin, if you like, to the parable that Jesus is going to tell later on of the two brothers who were lost: one was lost running away and making a hash of things, and the other was lost still back at his house.[9] He didn’t think he was lost: “Why would you give a party to my brother? Why would you do that? A whole new outfit? Killing a calf? Doing this? And I’ve been slaving here for you the whole jolly time?”[10] You see, he was a moralist. He was a pharisee. He had an external religion. He had to say, “Well, I suppose…” You see, it wasn’t that the Pharisees thought they were sinless. They knew they weren’t sinless. But they figured that God graded on the curve. So as long as there were others worse than them, then they could take pride in the fact that they were not like them.

Now, you have this again the story in Luke 18 of the publican and the tax collector. No, not the publican and the tax collector, but the fellow—the Pharisee and the tax collector. (Yeah, it was “Pharisee and tax collector.”) You remember, he said, “And the Pharisee was standing beside the tax collector. And the Pharisee, standing by himself…” (Of course he was! “I’m not going to stand next to you. I don’t stand next to people like you.”) “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus to God: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men. I’m different. I’m special. I don’t do the things they do, and I do things that they don’t do.’”[11] And that was it. That was it. Now, when that is pervasive in a mind, the arrival of somebody like this is going to create chaos. “When he saw this, he said to himself, ‘No, this can’t be right.’”

Now, what Jesus does, of course, is—in one sense, he traps him. He traps him. Because Simon is astute enough to recognize that he knows where Jesus is going with the question. So, intervention part one: the little parable followed by the question and the response. Intervention part two (this pushes us towards the conclusion)—what a question! “Do you see this woman?” It’s almost funny, isn’t it? The whole focus of the event has become transfixed. The attention has become transfixed on this woman. And Jesus says, “Do you see this woman?” I don’t know. Turning towards the woman, he says to Simon, “Do you see this woman?” I wonder: Does he say to Simon, “You know, you can’t really see her as she is, because you can’t stop thinking about her as she was”? That’s a pharisee, always: you can’t enjoy the transformation.

Even your friends down below: look at them, sitting at the table, the rest of them. What are they doing? They’re not going, “This is amazing! Look what God has done in the life of this lady.” No, they’re having a question about the identity of Jesus Christ: “Well, let’s have a discussion—a kind of hypothetical discussion.” It’s a good question. It’s an important question. But their timing is horrible. What they’re really showing is they don’t get it either, here in this meal to remember.

And so Jesus says to them, “Well, let me just rehearse this with you. I entered your house. You were courteous enough to invite me. But actually, you neglected the routine of basic hospitality.” And then he just works his way through it: “You didn’t give me any water for my feet. She has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. There was no kiss of welcome,” à la Italy, or à la the Islamic world, or the kiss on one side to the other. “But from the time I came in, she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You didn’t anoint my head with oil. She’s anointed my feet with ointment. So let me tell you. Let me tell you this: her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.”

Now, this is the danger point in the story, and this is why I said what I said earlier. You’ll notice at the final sentence in the chapter, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” This would be to turn the gospel upside down by suggesting that the love of the woman in its extravagance earned forgiveness. She can’t earn forgiveness. No one can earn forgiveness. The story, it’s so amazing. The money lender said, “You’re clear!” That doesn’t happen! What was it in the people that caused him to do that? Nothing in the people, save their need. “You’re free and clear,” he said.

Now, the love of this woman was not the cause of her forgiveness; it was the evidence of it. Or, if you like, it was not the condition of forgiveness; it was the consequence of forgiveness. Or, if you like, it was the result of forgiveness, not the reason for forgiveness. Or, if you like, it was the fruit; it was not the root. Choose whichever one you want to fasten it in your mind. It’s vitally important. Her actions were the overflow of God’s mercy and grace, which she had discovered in this man Jesus.

And that’s why Simon could only wonder at this. Because he himself loved a wee bit, but he had no real consciousness of needing forgiveness. He had no sense of a debt to Jesus. Because after all, think about him: he read the Law; he attended the services; he kept his distance from sinners. You don’t need to be a Christian to do that. He read the Law, he attended the services, and he kept his distance from sinners. He read the Bible, he attended Parkside, and he kept his distance from sinners.

You see, what had happened to him was that his morality had blinded him from his own need of forgiveness. His morality: the fact that he was an upstanding member of the community; the fact that he paid his taxes; the fact that he was the kind of person who, at least in the extension of religious circles, would have been regarded with respect. He was distinctly unlike this woman. It makes me think of the line I often quote—and I’m about to quote it to you again—and that is where C. S. Lewis talks about nice men lost in their niceness.[12] Nice men lost in their niceness. He describes them in their corner offices with cufflinks and put together, lost.

Now, we need to finish. So let me try and end in this way: “‘Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” Well, people say, “Well, there you are! She did that, and then he said, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” I don’t think he said it so that she would know. I think he said it so that everybody else would know—that all the people who are looking at her, going, “Hey, you’re not going to get away with this”—“Oh yeah,” he says, “you know, hey, your sins are forgiven. You know that, don’t you?” Oh, yes, she knew it! Yes, she knew it.

And then, in 49, around the table, as I say, they’re discussing the identity of Jesus. It’s a mechanism very often, isn’t it? Shielding ourselves from the challenge that is presented by the woman’s extravagant gesture. So instead of going, “Oh, wait a minute; I think I’m on the wrong side of this equation,” I’ll go out, and I’ll have a discussion about some other piece of important theology. Just talk about anything, but just don’t face up to the fact of what Jesus says.

“And [Jesus] said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” Shalom. Shalom. Peace. Peace! The peace whereby God in his mercy brings broken bits and pieces back together again. The peace whereby God in his wonderful providence and care seeks out people like this and seeks to put them back together again so that a peace that they have never known they now know. And a peace that the Pharisee cannot know, because that peace is only discovered when we are humbled enough to recognize that we are in need of the forgiveness that Jesus provides.

Morality is not the measure of forgiveness. Love is the measure of forgiveness.

Imagine if we’d been present at the meal—at the meal to remember, a kind of form of our own Thanksgiving meal—and we went around the table and did what you have to do:

“Simon, what are you thankful for today?”

“I’m thankful for the Law. I’m thankful for the synagogue. I’m thankful for separation.”

“And you, ma’am? I’m sorry. I can’t give you your name. How about you?”

“Well, I’m thankful that my sins, though they were many, his mercy is more. I’m thankful for forgiveness. I’m thankful for Jesus. I love Jesus so much. I’m thankful that with Jesus, failure is never final.”

Simon, you see, wasn’t even conscious of his need of forgiveness. She, by contrast, could not explain her life apart from forgiveness.

I wonder: Did the woman become part of the company that followed Jesus? Did you allow your eyes to run on into the beginning of chapter 8? It’s actually easily overlooked. I can’t even find it. It’s right there, after chapter 7: the beginning of chapter 8. And did you notice this? That’s what I’m saying, is I wonder: Did she become part of this company? Chapter 8, verse 1: “Soon afterward[s] [Jesus] went on through [the] cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women.” Now, what kind of women were with him? Well, “some … who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, … Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” Look at the group that’s with this guy! The Pharisees are going, “He can’t be the prophet of God! He’s got the wrong people with him! Look at them: a bunch of misfits! Their life’s a shambles, chaos!”

“She loved much.” Love is the measure of forgiveness. Morality is not the measure of forgiveness. Love is the measure of forgiveness.

This is a meal to remember. It would be great if we could bring her back, have her with us. I think she would have loved these songs: “My sins, they are many; his mercy is more.”[13] “What a friend I have in Jesus, all my sins and griefs to bear.”[14]

See, what this actually does, this meal to remember, is force each of us to ask this question: not “Do I go to church, read the Bible, and try and steer away from sin?”—that’s all good—but “Do I love Jesus? Do I love his people? Do I love much? Do I love at all?”

Let us pray:

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the way in which you moved amongst men and women, calling them to you, embracing them in their need, setting them free from the things that chained and held them and spoiled their lives. Thank you that this is the story of the gospel. This is why Paul wasn’t ashamed of it in Romans 1: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, … it is the power of God for salvation [for] everyone who believes.”[15] And God grant that salvation may be ours this day. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[1] Luke 5:32 (paraphrased).

[2] J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St. Luke (Ipswich: William Hunt, 1858), 1:234.

[3] Matthew 11:28 (paraphrased).

[4] Genesis 1:31 (paraphrased).

[5] John 1:29 (ESV).

[6] William R. Featherston, “My Jesus, I Love Thee” (1862).

[7] Matthew 6:12 (KJV).

[8] Luke 11:4 (paraphrased).

[9] See Luke 15:11–32.

[10] Luke 15:29–30 (paraphrased).

[11] Luke 18:10–12 (paraphrased).

[12] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952), bk. 4, chap. 10.

[13] Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, “His Mercy Is More” (2016). Lyrics lightly altered.

[14] Joseph Medlicott Scriven, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (1855). Lyrics lightly altered.

[15] Romans 1:16 (ESV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.