Fall At The Feet of Christ
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the words of my mouth and the ears of our hearts be open to the word of God this day. AMEN.
Tonight we begin our season of Lent. This year the Lenten theme is the Body of Christ. Over the next few weeks we will hear about the Heart of Christ, the Hands of Christ, the Mouth of Christ, the Ears of Christ, and the Eyes of Christ. But tonight we hear about the Feet of Christ. In particular we hear that we are to fall at the feet of Jesus. "At Jesusí feet..." is a phrase we hear a number of times in the gospels.
- There were those who threw themselves at Jesusí feet in prayer.
- There was a man named
Jairus who fell down at Jesusí feet to plead with him to heal his
daughter who was dying.
- There was an unnamed woman
who did the same thing as she begged Jesus to heal her
daughter who was demon-possessed.
- There was the Geraseneate
demon-possessed man who fell at Jesusí feet in submission
to his power and authority. After Jesus drove the demon out of that man he sat down at Jesusí feet
out of love and respect and to show his readiness to serve his Savior.
Then there were the ten lepers who were healed, one came back and did
what, yep, threw
himself at Jesusí feet and gave thanks.
- Of course there is also
Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesusí feet to listen to him teach
and she also is the same one who fell at Jesusí feet in sadness when he arrived
after her brother Lazarus had died.
There is also that one woman who had been healed of her internal bleeding
touched Jesusí cloak fell at his feet in fear and love and thanksgiving.
- Then there is Matthewís text that tells us that Mary Magdalene and that other Mary early on that Easter Sunday morning fell and hugged Jesusí feet and worshipped him.
So many people placed themselves at Jesusí feet for so many reasons. There were those who fell at his feet to ask him for something. They feel at his feet in fear. They feel at his feet with thanksgiving. Others fell at his feet in sorrow. And of course there were those who feel at Jesusí feet in repentance, to turn over their lives in service to his authority. In our gospel reading, we hear about a woman who had lived a life of sin, apparently not just run of the mill everyoneís a sinner stuff, but she was a woman of the city who was a sinner, Mark explains. Everyone knew who she was and what she was, a sinner that deserved nothing. But she comes and lays down her life in front of Jesus and places herself at Jesusí feet. She put herself there in repentance, and submission, and faith. At Jesusí feet she offered her love to him in service. This woman also found salvation at Jesusí feet. This Ash Wednesday we are reminded that we are like this woman, that we need to lay ourselves before Jesusí feet in repentance, to hear the words of forgiveness and to enter into the Way of salvation.
But this woman was not the only one in the story. We also need to hear about Simon, the Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner with him and his other guests. The problem with Simon was like many people he was full of himself. He didnít see his need for a Savior because he thought he lived a good life. He hadnít committed the kinds of sins that that woman of the city streets had committed. As a churchgoing, taxpaying, upstanding member of the community, he thought everything was fine between him and God. We also have become like Simon the Pharisee. Like him we are churchgoing, taxpaying, upstanding members of the community. We may not have broken Godís laws as openly and as often as that woman. When we compare ourselves to others we may look pretty good. But we will not find eternal life if our hearts are filled with such pride. This kind of thinking will prevent us from falling at Jesusí feet and throwing ourselves completely and totally on his mercy. We have to remember that we are sinners, pride keeps us from fully falling at Jesusí feet in true repentance, hearing the words of forgiveness and the promise of salvation. Have we become to much like Simon and not enough like the woman.
Look at how the woman
approaches Jesus, She comes, bringing ďan alabaster jar of ointment. She
stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her
tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and
anointing them with the ointment.Ē This woman isnít hindered by what others
think of her, she throws all self respect, pride, prestige out the window. She
is focused fully on her hope in the one who can save her from her sins. Perhaps
she hadnít intended to make such a scene but the realization of all that she had
done in her life, the mistakes, the sins, the past comes pouring out causing her
to collapse in repentance at Jesusí feet.
Does our pride prevent us from this kind of repentance? Is our inflated ego or our self- image keeping us from throwing ourselves down at the foot of the cross in humility? Are we too proud to plead for forgiveness? Remember we are dust and to dust we shall return. We are nothing but a pile of dust moving around for a short time on this earth, then we are gone. We are not the center of all meaning, we are not the center of everyoneís attention. We are small, weak, fallen people that rely fully on God for all things.
Today letís find salvation at Jesusí feet. Let the demands of Godís law crush each of us. Have you lived a good life? Itís not good enough to get you into heaven. Have you lived a better life than 90% of the people in this county? Itís not worth a hill of beans before God. Do you claim to love the Lord your God with all your heart and being? But is he the first priority in your life? Have you used his holy name improperly, in exuberance, in a curse or a swear? Are you honoring his Word and keeping the Sabbath by regular Bible study and worship? If we need to we can go through the rest of Godís commandments and see why we need to fall at Jesusí feet. Whether we have been fully aware of our sinfulness or we are now realizing it letís throw ourselves down at Jesusí feet in repentance so that we can hear the promise of forgiveness and receive salvation.
The story tells us there is hope for Simon, there is hope for the sinful woman, and there is hope for you and me. Remember what Jesus said of the creditor in the parable he presents to Simon, "Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both." That is a beautiful picture of Godís undeserved love. He canceled the debt of the sinful woman. He canceled the debt of Simon the Pharisee. It didnít matter if one was ten times greater then the other, the point was that both could never be paid back. We are dust, and to dust we shall return, we are helpless and we are sinners, we can never be anything more than that. We can not ascend out of this realm of existence. We can not change ourselves into immortal beings. We can not overcome all sickness and death. We can not even stop from sinning, over and over and over again, even when we want to. But the Lord cancels this all out and forgives us and makes us into that new creation. He raises us out of this realm, he changes us into the immortal beings in his heavenly kingdom, he overcomes sickness and death, and washes away all sins. And he empowers us to live in that Way of Salvation.
"At Jesus feet..." Many
different people fell down at Jesusí feet. Some landed there in a fall of
desperation. Some placed themselves at his feet to worship him or give him
thanks. Whether it was in submission or sorrow, in prayer or praise, service or
sacrifice all were welcomed by Jesus. This woman who had lived a sinful life
placed herself at Jesusí feet for several reasons. At Jesusí feet she laid her
sins in repentance, she heard wordís of forgiveness, and she offered herself for
service. At those precious feet she found salvation. This sinful woman heard
Jesus say, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
At Jesusí feet. There is no better place for us to be. May we fall at his feet tonight. At Jesusí feet let us lay our sins in repentance. At Jesusí feet we will receive words of forgiveness. At Jesusí feet let us place ourselves in his service. Amen.
. May the Peace and grace of God be with you this day and throughout the week to come.