Jesus asked a lot of questions.  Did you know that?  You probably know Jesus said things like, ‘Love your enemy.’  You probably know Jesus healed people.  You know that Jesus walked from town to town.  But did you know that Jesus asked a lot of questions?  Let’s quickly review the questions we have talked about so far. Do you want to get well?  What do you want?  Why are you thinking these things?  Do you understand what I have done for you?  Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?  If I’m telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?  Have you never read the scriptures?  Why are you so afraid?

We hope that you are taking the time to personalize these questions.  That means you are slowing down, thinking them through, and personally answering those questions.  That’s when scripture becomes real.

Today we jump into another question.  Let me share with you the story to give you context.  The Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and brought Him before Pilate to be crucified.  From Pilate’s point of view, the Jews are upset, again.  This is just another problem Pilate has to deal with from the Jewish community.  He finds himself in a political situation.  He has to defend Rome and Ceasar while at the same time, Pilate has to keep the Jewish religious leaders in check.  So, Pilate reluctantly gets involved.

From Pilate’s point of view, the Jewish leaders bring him a guy who claims to be the King of the Jews.  They claimed that Jesus was a dangerous revolutionary.  This had to be confusing to Pilate because who they said Jesus was didn’t match with the Jesus in front of him.  To find out who Jesus was, Pilate has to ask, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus responds with,

John 18:34 “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”

I want us to personalize this question today.  To do that, I want you to ask yourself, who is Jesus to me?  Think through that for a second, who is Jesus to you?  Maybe you are like Pilate and you have no idea who Jesus is.  All you know is what you have heard from other people.  Maybe you are like the Jewish leaders and Jesus kinda bugs you.  Something about Jesus draws you to Him but at the same time, Jesus offends you.  And you would rather not have Jesus in your life. Maybe you are like the disciples.  You have walked Jesus.  You have experienced Jesus.  And you would give up your life for Jesus.

I want you to think through this question with me, “Who is Jesus to me?”

As I prayed about this talk and prepped today, this story jumped into my mind and I want to share it with you.

Let’s jump into scripture.

Luke 7:36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to come to his home for lunch and Jesus accepted the invitation. As they sat down to eat, 37 a woman of the streets – a prostitute – heard he was there and brought an exquisite flask filled with expensive perfume. 38 Going in, she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping, with her tears falling down upon his feet; and she wiped them off with her hair and kissed them and poured the perfume on them.

39 When Jesus’ host, a Pharisee, saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, “This proves that Jesus is no prophet, for if God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman this one is!”

40 Then Jesus spoke up and answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “All right, Teacher,” Simon replied, “go ahead.”

41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people – $5,000 to one and $500 to the other. 42 But neither of them could pay him back, so he kindly forgave them both, letting them keep the money! Which do you suppose loved him most after that?”

43 “I suppose the one who had owed him the most,” Simon answered.  “Correct,” Jesus agreed.

44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look! See this woman kneeling here! When I entered your home, you didn’t bother to offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You refused me the customary kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. 46 You neglected the usual courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has covered my feet with rare perfume. 47 Therefore her sins – and they are many – are forgiven, for she loved me much; but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.”

48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” TLB

This is an incredible story because it reveals a huge contrast between people and how they view Jesus.  And notice how they viewed Jesus impacted how they lived life.

There is Simon, he is a religious leader.  That means Simon would have been well-educated, he would have been wealthy, and well-respected.  He is the upper middle class.  He is the kind of person who has figured out life and is comfortable.  His bills are paid, he’s respected, and he is doing great.  Others around Simon would have viewed him as a success.  And because Simon thinks he is in a good spot, he views himself as a good person, a success, and honestly, he doesn’t need Jesus.  He already has everything he needs.

What is interesting about Simon is that he views himself as good, but he isn’t even a good host to Jesus.  It’s like he is above serving others.  He isn’t a grateful or generous person.  It’s like he is selfish and stingy and doesn’t need to be kind.  Simon has become judgmental and critical of others.  He sees others, compares himself to them, and believes he is better.  When he sees Jesus, he is skeptical of who Jesus is.

Then there is the prostitute.  The opposite of who Simon was.  She would have been someone that culture has labeled and thrown away.  She would have been weighed and measured and forever come up short.  She doesn’t have the education, the wealth, or the respect of anyone.  She certainly doesn’t have life figured out.  Life for her is a daily challenge.  She is anything but comfortable.

What is interesting about her is, who Jesus is has wrecked her – in a good way.  Think about it.  She knows that she is viewed by others as less and she pushes through the crowd of people judging her as she gets to Jesus’ feet.  She is completely brokenhearted.  She can’t stop worshipping Jesus.  She washes Jesus’ feet.  She pours perfume on Jesus’ feet, which would have cost her a lot of money.  She simply is in awe of who Jesus is.  To the people around that day, the prostitute would have been the rejected, the lesser than, the embarrassing person in the story.

Please notice, two different hearts in this story.  Simon doesn’t need Jesus.  The prostitute is in desperate need of Jesus.  Think through this with me, who has the better heart?  And how they viewed Jesus directly impacted how they lived life.  The question I want you to wrestle with is, “Who is Jesus to me?”

In this story, Simon didn’t know who Jesus was.  He heard about Jesus.  Jesus was popular enough that Simon thought it might be good to invite Jesus over.  But Simon became skeptical of Jesus.  How did Simon live?  Simon believed he was a good person who didn’t need Jesus.  No heart change.  No life change.

The prostitute, however, was completely different.  Who Jesus was to her wrecked her heart – in a good way.  She couldn’t have been more in awe of Jesus.  How did she live?  Radical life change.  She knew that she was a mess and desperately needed Jesus.

Please notice, that how they viewed Jesus directly impacted how they lived life.  Ask yourself, ‘Who is Jesus to me?’  If you don’t see your need of Jesus, there will probably be little life change.  You may view yourself as good enough.  Maybe not very grateful or generous.  Maybe comfortable being judgmental or critical of others.  Maybe even skeptical of Jesus.

If you see your need of Jesus, there will probably be significant life change.  A life focused on Jesus.  A life in awe of Jesus.  A life that is grateful of Jesus.

This is what I want you to know before you leave today.  Jesus is God who walked with us.  And Jesus wants to rescue you from every sin that messes with your life.  Jesus wants to heal you from every burden and hurt in your life.  Jesus wants to be your Lord and Savior so you can walk through life empowered by Him.

I want you to hear Jesus’ invitation to you.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” MSG

Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with you.  Why?  Jesus knows the damage sin has done to us.  Jesus knows that we are hurting.  Jesus knows life wears us out.  He knows we get burned out.  Jesus wants us to walk in freedom.  Jesus wants to take the burdens of life, those things you worry about, He wants to remove them from you.  Jesus wants to heal you from all the hurts that life and people have given you.  Jesus wants to place the Holy Spirit inside you to empower you to live every day.

Jesus wants a personal relationship with you.  Have you heard that term before?  For some, that might be a completely new understanding of Jesus.  Let me explain.  For some of you, you were raised in religion.  That means you believe that you have to work hard to be accepted by Jesus.  And that’s a lie.  Religion is evil because it makes you believe it’s up to you and how you behave to be made right with God.  It’s up to you to earn your way into heaven.  This leaves you feeling exhausted and guilty all the time because you know, you are never good enough and you can never do enough good things.  I am so happy to share what scripture says about this.

Galatians 2:19-21 I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work… If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. MSG

Galatians 3:11-12 The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God – and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping. MSG

When you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, you are free from trying to earn your way into heaven.  You can relax and know that it’s not up to you to be right with God.  You can relax because Jesus did all the work.  Now to be clear, after you accept what Jesus did for you, you begin the process of making intentional choices to pull your life out of sin and grow up spiritually.  That’s another sermon.

Remember, Jesus didn’t die to start a religion, Jesus died to be in a relationship with you.

For others, when you hear Jesus wants a personal relationship with you, you may have heard that so many times, that it’s lost its meaning for you.  You heard it and you have become bored of it.  Maybe even worse, you believe that because you have heard it so many times it’s good enough and it’s not.  Maybe it has become normal for you to hear it and not read the Bible, pray, and experience Jesus’ love, grace, and passion.  This is a very dangerous place to be.

What can happen is, if we are not enjoying a relationship with Jesus, like Simon, we can look at what we are doing and think, ‘I’m good.’  We can believe that because we attend church now and then, because we are faithful to our spouses, because we give a little, because we do all the right things, we are good.  As you push through life you can find yourself tired, worn out, and burned out.  And you think you are being a mature disciple of Jesus if you push through.  You must know, that doing the right things, being burned out, and pushing through is not what matters most to God.

God said, I don’t want your sacrifice, what you can do for Me, I want your love.  I don’t want you striving and struggling to be a good person, I want a real relationship with you.  A relationship like the prostitute modeled for us.  God wants our love.

Hosea 6:6 I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me. TLB

For others, when you hear Jesus wants a personal relationship with you, it brings tears to your eyes.  You have experienced Jesus forgiving you.  You have experienced Jesus healing you.  You look back on your life of running away from God and realize God still came after you to love you.  It humbles you to think that the God of the universe thinks about you.  David wrote this.

Psalms 8:3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look our way? MSG

You know you never deserved God’s grace, but God’s grace changed you.  You know the relationship is so one-sided because you could never love God as much as He loves you.

Jesus’ invitation is for you to be in a personal, life-giving relationship with Him.

Jesus asked Pilate, “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”  For you and I to personalize this, I want you to ask yourself, “Who is Jesus to me?”  Maybe you are like Pilate and you have no idea who Jesus is.  All you know is what you have heard from other people.  Maybe you are like the Jewish leaders and Jesus kinda bugs you.  Something about Jesus draws you to Him but at the same time, Jesus offends you.  And you would rather not have Jesus in your life. Maybe you are like Simon and view Jesus a just another guy and you don’t need Him in your life.  Maybe you are like the Prostitute and realize your deep need of Jesus.

As you leave here today ask yourself, “Who is Jesus to me?”  You will need to wrestle with this question because how you answer that question directly determines how you live life and if you enjoy heaven.