Jesus a man of Integrity

Matthew 22:15-22

In an attempt to trap Jesus there was an alliance formed between the Pharisees who were strong Nationalists, supporting a Jewish nation and the Herodians, Jews supporting the Roman rule of the Herods. They visited Jesus and posed the question in verse 17 “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? ” As you can quickly recognize, this is a loaded question because, if Jesus says “yes” the Pharisees will regard him as a supporter of Rome, and untrue to the Jewish Nation. If he says “no”, the Herodians will regard him as a traitor and have him executed. (NIV footnote 22:15-17)

Jesus turns this attempts to trap him, into a moment to teach the Pharisees and the Herodians by taking the high ground. He doesn’t advocate ignoring one or the other and gives a “yes and yes” answer in verse 21 and says ….. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” In short, he reminds them that there are two kingdoms. There was the kingdom of Caesar with earthly rules, where all needed to give as required, or face the consequences. Likewise, there is the Kingdom of God that is often ignored, and has its’ consequences for ignoring.  One of the reasons I feel we often ignore the kingdom of God is because, we don’t understand the consequences of ignoring the kingdom of God.  In many cases there is no immediate consequence. By avoiding immediate consequences we feel there are no consequences at all, but eventually the consequences catch up with us. However, we must all admit that as soon as the consequence of ignoring Caesar or God hits, and trouble visits out door, we run back immediately to the kingdom of God for help.

Jesus reminds both groups that as Caesar had a standard, God has a standard. In this text, both groups of men were Jews who were there very knowledgeable of the Scriptures, noting that only the Old Testament existed at that time. They were very familiar with and understood Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Does it sound familiar to you? Of course it does because it is the foundation for Jesus’ statement “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them. But, seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “  Matthew 6:31-33. In other words for Christians, seeking God is the standard to all life. Seek the higher ground. Seek the “Jesus Way” first as Jesus was the representative of his Father in heaven.

The strange thing about this text is that in attempting to trap Jesus, the Pharisees and Herodians had to be complimentary. “They had to admit, however unwillingly, that Jesus was candid, faithful in speaking God’s truth, fearless before any man, whether a mob or king. “ (TIB Vol 7, pg 517-18). In Matthew 22:16, The King James Version states “… Master, we know that though art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men”. In the same verse, The Revised Standard Version says “….’Teacher we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. ‘…. However, I like the way the New International Version shows it in saying “….Teacher, they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance to the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are….” Here, the key is “a man of integrity”.

In this passage, the English word integrity is translated from the Greek word alethes. The Greek word alethes, when it translates to the English word integrity, has five attributes or descriptions and they are True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid.  A highlight of these attributes in Jesus, gives us examples of how we as Christians can strive to be “Jesus Like”.

  1. True – Jesus was true. There is nothing false about Jesus. In John 1:6-9, The Apostle John wrote about, Jesus to distinguish Jesus from John the Baptist. The Apostle said There is a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The TRUE light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. “ Who is the TRUE (non false) light? Of course it is Jesus.
  1. Genuine or Actual – Jesus is true with nothing false about him as he was the ACTUAL Son of God. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Who was the Genuine/Actual Son of God? Of Course, Jesus.
  1. Reliable – Jesus can be trusted because he is not only God’s Son but God’s agent. Jesus is reliable because his source is reliable. In John 8:26 Jesus said, “I Have much to say about judgment of you. But he who sent me is RELIABLE, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” Who had reliable information because he had a reliable source? Of course, Jesus.
  1. Trustworthy Able to be trusted to do or provide what is needed. Who can you depend on in a time of need or a time of joy? Who is there whenever you call on his name? Of course, Jesus. Have you ever depended on Jesus and He let you down? No!
  1. Valid – Valid is the quality of being officially acceptable. Jesus is officially accepted as God because He is God. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John the apostle opens his gospel with a clarification of who Jesus is. Jesus is the official, factual son of God. John said it, the Bible consistently proves it and I believe it.

Referring to Jesus as a man of integrity was meant to be a trap. But, He is a True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid Jesus. With the attributes of True, Genuine, Reliable, Trustworthy and Valid, we can only reach one conclusion. Jesus on Earth, was definitely a man of integrity. The Pharisees and Herodians, in their attempts to be tricky, were more correct that they ever knew. Jesus was and had to be an earthy “man of intergrity” because, He is in fact the God of integrity. Psalm 118:29 says Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; and his love endures forever.” The God of integrity is the source of honesty, the source of morality, the source of righteousness, the source of truthfulness and the source of sincerity. Jesus, the son of God was honest, moral, righteous, trustworthy and sincere. He was not only full of integrity, He is the God of integrity. He is the only one that Father God accepted as a “purification for our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). He is the Jesus, crucified, died, buried and arose from the dead. Jesus was a man of integrity because he is the God of integrity.

1. Edward W. Goodrick and John R Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance, Zondervan, 1993                                                                                          2.The NIV Study Bible, The Zonvervan Corporation, 1995

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  THE WOMAN WHO LIVED A SINFUL LIFE

Bible Study Lesson 6/25/2016 Key Scriptures: Luke 7:36-50

Supporting Scriptures: Luke 19:2-3; Romans 3:23; Is. 55:8; Rom. 6:23;

Matt. 7:1; Matt.23:2-3,13-14; Rev. 3:20; Zec.1:3; Matt. 28:19-20; John 3:16; Matt.22:37-38; John 14:23; Matt. 10:33; Prov. 3:6; Hebrews 8:12

  1. THE TITLE:

Many times in scripture the main character is named, such as Zacchaeus, a man of short stature who climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. (Luke 19:2-3). Other times, as in this lesson, no name is given. While pondering the reason why, consider this: any name would be appropriate; male or female. Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

  1. HER CHARACTER:

“She was a notorious sinner, possibly a prostitute or adulteress. Rather than trying to defend what was indefensible in her life, she admitted her sin and made a spectacle of herself in a passionate display of love and gratitude.”  WOB, pg. 171.

In our humanness, we often attempt to categorize sin. For many a “LITTLE SIN” like lying is insignificant, while a “BIG SIN” such as murder is unforgiveable. In opposition to our thinking, let us look at Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. We know that God hates all sin, for He tells us “the wages of sin is death…”. (Romans 6:23) Therefore, as we look at the character of the lady in this lesson; ourselves; and the many others in which we come in contact, let us remember “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”. (Matt. 7:1)

  1. HER SORROW:

“That she had offended God so grievously”. (biblegateway.com)

  1. HER JOY:

“That Jesus forgave her sins and commended her great faith and love.” (biblegateway.com)

  1. THE INVITATION:

One of the Pharisees named Simon invited Jesus into his home for dinner and Jesus went and reclined at the table. (Luke 7:36) Based on scripture, we know that the Pharisees were experts in the law. They believed in God, but not that Jesus was the Messiah. Repeatedly, they attempted to entice Jesus into saying something they could use to bring about his arrest, imprisonment and crucifixion. In regard to the Pharisees, Jesus stated “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach”. (Matt. 23:2-3). Repeatedly, he referred to them as “hypocrites”. (Matt. 23:13-14)

Initially, we don’t know why Simon extended the invitation or why Jesus accepted; we simply know that it was done. Here is something we do know in full detail, Jesus has extended an open invitation to all of us. He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me”. (Rev. 3:20) We can rejoice in the knowledge that God’s invitation remains open even when we err and fall into sin, if we will sincerely repent (as the woman in this lesson). Let us remember the words of the Lord in Zechariah 1:3, “Return to me”, declares the Lord Almighty, “and I will return to you”.

  1. SHARING THE GOSPEL:

A woman in town who lived a sinful life heard that Jesus was dining at Simon’s house, so she arrived uninvited with an alabaster jar filled with perfume. (Luke 7:37)

Apparently, the woman had already heard Jesus speak or at least had heard about Him. She had seen or heard of His many miracles, healings and teachings. After hearing, she responded by seeking Him out and going to where He was. Obviously, she desired to connect with Him, learn more and pay homage to Him since she brought along a gift- love offering.

As children of God, it is our responsibility to spread the good news telling others about Jesus. He commands us to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

Like the woman in our lesson, after hearing about Jesus our desire should be to make that connection with Him. We can rest assured that “God desires a continuing love relationship with us that is real and personal”. (Experiencing God; Henry and Richard Blackaby; pg. 52 2007).  In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment.”  While requiring our love, remember that God first demonstrated His love for us in that “…..He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)  How appropriate is that age-old childhood song: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so”.

  1. WE SHOULD DEMONSTRATE OUR LOVE FOR JESUS OPENLY!

After entering Simon’s home, the woman stood behind Jesus at His feet weeping; wet His feet with her tears; wiped them with her hair; kissed them and poured perfume on them. (Luke7:38). Her love for Jesus was shown through her humility (the washing of His feet); tears (outward display of love and devotion); and unselfish giving (the alabaster jar filled with  perfume). Scripture doesn’t indicate that she ever spoke a word, but her love and devotion was evident.

As believers, we should demonstrate our love for Jesus openly by living righteously and loving others as He commands. He tells us in John 14:23 “anyone who loves me will obey my teaching”.  He further states in Matthew 10:33, that, if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before His Father.

  1. HATERS WILL HATE

When Simon saw what the woman was doing, his mind went straight to the negative. He thought to himself, “If Jesus is a prophet he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner”. (Luke 7:39)  Now Simon reveals his true character and doubt of who Jesus is. How quickly he was ready to judge, placing himself above the woman, as though he was not also a sinner. Additionally, he seemingly places himself above Jesus, believing that he knows more because he recognizes the woman as a sinner while Jesus does not.

  1. IGNORE STUMBLING BLOCKS

Jesus knew Simon’s thoughts and responded by explaining a parable about two men who owed a debt, one 500 denarii and the other 50. Neither man could repay the moneylender, so he forgave both debts.  Jesus then asked the question, which of the debtors would love the most (be the most grateful). Simon answered the one who owed the most and Jesus replied that he was correct. (Luke 7:43-44)

The parable was meant to teach a lesson. Both Simon and the woman owed a debt that could never repay. Consider this summarization from Bible Gateway: “Though Simon’s sin was less obvious, it was the more dangerous. He was like a man who was following a map he was certain would lead to heaven—but when heaven came down and walked into his house, he didn’t even know it. The woman on the other hand, realized just how lost she had been. Forgiven much, she loved much. She found heaven at the feet of Jesus.”

Jesus went on to point out all the expected amenities Simon had failed to offer as a proper host, such as water to clean His feet; a welcoming kiss; or oil for His head. The woman, however, had done all these acts of love by washing His feet, kissing them and anointing them with oil. (Luke 7:44-46)

In our daily lives, there will be stumbling blocks. There will people who question our commitment to God; criticize our actions; intentionally place obstacles in our way, and even slander our name and more. Remember that God is omniscience, omnipresent and omnipotent.  Trust completely in Him, stand firmly on His promises and “in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths”. (Prov.3:6)

  1. JESUS RESPONDS TO OUR FAITH

Jesus supports the woman and says to Simon, “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown”. (Luke7:47). He also says directly to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven”. (Luke 7:48)

We know that the woman was not saved because of her actions or the expensive perfume, for it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us”. (Titus 3:5) Jesus makes it perfectly clear in Luke7:50 when he says to The Woman Who Has Lived A Sinful Life, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”.

  1. STANDING ON THE WORD

God has promised, “For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more”. (Hebrews 8:12)  “This story isn’t included in scripture just so we can see the forgiveness given to one sinful woman, it is included so that we can know that no matter how sinful, how broken, how entrenched in error we might be, forgiveness is available if only we seek it in faith—he’s promised.”  biblegateway.com/devotionals/women of the bible/2014/09/29.

Bibliography:

Holy Bible, New International Version, (NIV) Study Bible, Copyright 1985, Zondervan Corporation

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Copyright 1999,2002 by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda; Zondervan

Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry and Richard Blackaby, Claude King; Copyright 2007, Reprinted 2015

biblegateway.com/devotionals/women-of-the-bible/2014/09/29

 

 

Yes, Jesus Loves Me!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, it is with heartfelt gratitude that I stand before this waiting congregation this morning. I invite the Holy Spirit to continue to lead and guide this service. It is my hope that all who hear these words will grow to understand your love for each of us, and that we will pass that love on to others. In Jesus name I do pray. Amen.

Key Scripture:  1 John 3:1-6.  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it does not know him. 

  1. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 
  2. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
  3. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
  4. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.  And in him is no sin.
  5. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

 

The Song:  Jesus Loves Me:

Jesus loves me, this simple child-like song was written in the 1800’s.  The lyrics are credited to Anna Bartlett Warren in 1860, and the music and chorus  is credited to William B. Bradbury. (Google)

If you grew up as a “church-kid”, “Jesus Loves Me,” was probably one of the first songs you were taught that you can still remember.

Jesus Loves Me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to him belong, They are weak but He is strong.

The song and our key Scripture (1 John 3:1-6), goes on to affirm that the proof of Jesus’ love for you and me can be found in the Bible.  One of my favorite teaching questions in any Bible Study or Sunday School class, is  asking “where can we find that information in the Bible” Someone may be courageous enough to ask why finding information in the Bible, makes an affirmation or statement so special, and true?

BIBLE HISTORY:

We can then explain that the Bible is a very important book.  Psalm 119: 105  says, “ Your word (the Bible) is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path  ( Ft. nt. Lamp…light. Apart from which I could only grope about in darkness.( NIV pg. 1253)  We’ve all had periods of groping about in darkness.  We don’t need to continue groping in darkness. By asking the Holy Spirit to help us as we read and study the Bible will guide us to an understanding of God’s Words. Light and/or understanding can be gained which is meant to put us on the right path. The path that God wants us to travel.   He has a path for each of us, based on the gifts and talents He has given us.

The Bible is a collection of ancient writings about God (Yahweh) in two (2) parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Testament means agreement, Scripture means “Sacred Writings”.  The Old Testament contains stories about an old agreement between God (Yahweh) and man (the Hebrews) when the Hebrews came out of Egypt …and how it worked out.  (1. A Scriptographic Booklet, pg.2).

The Scriptures that we study are “God Breathed,” the life that God’s breath  gives to His words is the same life that God breathed into Adam.  “Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”(2. NIV Study Bible, pg. 13). “ 2 Timothy 3:16-17- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,: 17- so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”( 3. NIV Study Bible, pg, 2525).

The New Testament contains stories and teachings about a new agreement between God and man based on the teachings and life of Jesus –who opened up a relationship with God to all men who believed in Him and accepted God’s forgiveness of their sins. (4. A Scriptographic  Booklet, same pg 2)

The Bible was written by many different authors, mostly Hebrews, some unknown.  It was written at different times over about 1,000 years —from about  900 B.C. to 100 A.D.  At different places – Palestine, Babylon, Egypt. Rome, Corinth. The Bible was written for different purposes—to teach religion and patriotism, to describe the Messiah.  (3. Same)

The Protestant Bibles includes 66 writings. Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Angelician Bibles contains 73 writings.(4. Same).  Protestant – any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Angelican, or Eastern Church. (Google- Protestant)

Scriptural Proof of Jesus’ love for us:

Where does the Bible tell me that Jesus loves me? Here are just a few Scriptures that teach of Jesus’s love for us: (Note: use of NIV translation of the Bible)

  1. John 3:16 – 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.
  2. 1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.
  3. John 15:9-10 – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love. If you obey my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.            
  4. John 13:34 – A new command I give you, Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
  5. Psalm 145:9 – The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Who is Jesus? 

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1-14 –In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

  1. 2 Chronicles 7: 14 – If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
  2. 1 John 4:19 – 21

19.We love because he first loved us. 

20.If anyone says, “ I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

  1. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

Jesus’ love is not a permissive love, by any means.

Hebrews 12: 5-8 says:

  1. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
  2. because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
  3. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father? 
  4. If you are not disciplines (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

 

It is my hope that the Song: Jesus Loves Me,  will get into our hearts and minds in a new way.  Not to minimize our time spent together, but to enhance how we value the love Jesus has for us. Jesus loves us completely.  He wants a continuing love relationship with us.  He doesn’t want anyone to be lost to sin.

 

“Yes, Jesus Loves Me” is the title of the message delivered by Reverend Glenda Brunson in the worship service at Grand Villa of Saint Petersburg, FL on September 27, 2015. The Sunday services are provided by Sharing the Glory Ministries, Pastor Alfonso Woods, Pastor.