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Message

The Royal - Book Five: Twists and Turns (Week 2)
Miles McPherson - October 24, 2010

Message Recap

During His ministry, Jesus meets many critics. One of these is a Pharisee named Simon who invites Jesus to dinner, during which a sinner comes in to worship Jesus and anoint Him with oil. At witnessing this intimate worship, Simon’s reaction is negative, but Jesus tells a parable that exposes the hypocrisy of Simon’s heart.

A parable is a story about an everyday occurrence that gives a lesson to its listeners. Jesus tells parables to his disciples, to the multitudes, and to his critics. The purpose of the parable depends on the hearts of the listeners: it may encourage them to change their behavior or expose their hypocrisy. When hearts are open, people are able to see their own behavior and are willing to change to become more Christlike. But if their hearts are hard, the parable is offensive and they are left resenting Jesus and rejecting his teaching.

Notice your own heart as you hear this story of a modern-day sinner like the woman in Luke 7. Are you open and willing to see a need for change in your life?

. . .

Kent was born in Texas in 1961. His father was in the military, so his family moved homes many times. In his childhood, he was molested and abused by older neighborhood children, leaving Kent with a belief that he could only be defenseless and victimized. These events caused him to create an inner secret compartment to store his pain and shame.

As his family moved around to various locations, Kent found it difficult to make friends. He was a shy outsider and often the target of bullying. In his teens, the family moved to Chula Vista, where he met a new friend, Eric. Kent sensed that Eric had a similar inner “box” of pain and darkness. Because he felt that Eric was the one person who understood him, he wanted to make and maintain a connection with this friend.

One day, Kent found Eric in his room, crying and alone, slapping a knife into the palm of his hand. Eric’s anger burned within him, and he vowed that it was time for his father and his father’s girlfriend to die. But he needed help in planning the attack and providing himself with an alibi.

And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Luke 7:37-38

Eric’s plan was for Kent to bring an untraceable knife to his house and provide his alibi after he stabbed his father and his father’s girlfriend. Kent was eager to help his friend and ensure a lasting connection between them, so he agreed.

When the day of attack arrived, Kent came to Eric’s house holding a briefcase of knives and a revolver. Eric was not home, but his father invited him inside to wait. After an hour, Kent called Eric at the friend’s house, but Eric claimed he needed a ride and couldn’t get there until later, but… maybe Kent could just do the task at hand instead.

Kent was angry at the suggestion, but after hanging up the phone, he went back to Eric’s room and began to think. What if he did do it? Wouldn’t Eric feel greatly indebted to him? Wouldn’t that create the forever bond of friendship he desired?

Kent saw his chance with the two victims momentarily separated and stabbed each of them to death. He fled the scene in a panic of guilt and horror over his actions. He knew there was no escaping what he had done. Finding a suitable parking lot, he wrote a note of regret to his parents and decided to use the revolver to end his own life. But before doing so, he decided he should warn Eric. But by the time he arrived at the friend’s house, Eric had already gone home, so Kent did, too. The murders were all over the news. He briefly spoke to Eric on the phone, who said he was glad about Kent’s actions, but not to contact him for fear of a connection in the ensuing investigation.

It took about a month before Kent and Eric were arrested. Kent denied any knowledge of the events, but Eric took a plea bargain for a recorded confession of their involvement and that Kent had committed the crime. In response, Kent also took a plea bargain for his confession of the events and was sentenced to two back-to-back 25-year sentences for murder in the first degree.

Kent was sent to San Quentin to serve the first portion of his prison time. He was still a scared, defenseless kid, now in a place filled despair and even more danger. The prison had frequent race riots, stabbings, and beatings. His new “friends” were hard core drinkers and drug users, activities to which Kent acquiesced without any restraint.

In 2003, Kent became very ill. For months on end, he experienced cold sweats, nausea, and swelling of the lymph nodes. He was certain he had contracted HIV, so he took a test. As he sat waiting for the results, he turned to God and began to pray for a miracle.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

This Pharisee wouldn’t be caught dead with a sinful woman such as this, let alone allow her touch him. Therefore, Simon thinks that if Jesus were a real prophet, He would know the woman’s sin and would not allow contact either. But Jesus is God and therefore knows not only the woman’s sin and intentions, but the judgment Simon bears in his heart.

Kent prayed for the Lord to heal him. When the doctor looked at the tests, he told Kent that he was fine, and that his symptoms were not related to any dangerous illness. In amazement, Kent walked out in tears, rejoicing and thanking the Lord. Within a few days, all of Kent’s symptoms that had been present for months were suddenly gone. Then someone invited Kent to the Kairos prison ministry program. There he was showered with love and he listened to the testimonies of many believers. On the final day, when a volunteer was speaking, Kent suddenly felt the overwhelming presence of the Lord in his heart, like a window opening up to heaven with warmth and love like he had never experienced. He knew that Jesus was the one who could finally fill the void in his heart and be the true companion he had always sought. He was amazed; after all he had done, Jesus would forgive him, love him, and even pursue him in a prison cell. The next night he prayed for Jesus to be his Savior and vowed to serve Christ for the rest of his life.

Kent’s story was followed by the testimonies of many inmates, recounting how Kent has gained respect in the prison—not for his toughness or fighting skills, but for following Christ, sharing Scripture, impacting others with grace, and accepting and encouraging others regardless of race or background.

Kent shared two psychiatric evaluations with us: one from his prison entry and a recent one. The difference is phenomenal and unexplainable by simple medical or therapeutic means.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Acts 3:16

Christ has completely changed Kent’s heart, mind and soul. Now, even though Kent will spend his life serving out his sentence, he is working his way through Bible school and is dedicated to serving God right where he is, impacting those around him who need Jesus.

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you…There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:40-47

Jesus accepts the worship of the woman and forgives her sin. Simon is a sinner as well (we all are), but he is unable to see his sin. He is self-righteous and does not appreciate the forgiveness of sin nor the glory of the Son of God who is before him.

How does this parable and Kent’s story impact you today? Will you have a hard heart, judging and belittling him, as Simon does? Or will you have a soft, humble heart? Will you allow Kent to challenge you to worship God for His awesome power and forgiveness – not only in Kent’s life, but in your own?

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