“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little.” – Luke 7:47
As Jesus is dining with a Pharisee alongside His disciples in walks a woman. She is a notorious woman. Her sins are well known to everyone. She is the talk of the town. Her guilt and shame are ever present before her entire community. Now here she stands before Jesus. She was not invited to this house nor is she welcome. Yet she has a gift to give her Savior and she will not be denied.
She has in her hand an alabaster flask, a sweet smelling perfume. This was a gift she would have probably saved for her wedding night. It was a high priced gift. She could have sold it for a good price, yet rather than using it for herself she does something amazing, she smashes it before the feet of Jesus. She pours it on His feet and, with that pouring of perfume so she also pours out all her love and gratitude for her Savior. She weeps, not the tears of sorrow, but the joyful tears of reconciliation to her God.
It was a scandalous sight in the eyes of the Pharisee. Here a whore is wiping the feet of a noble and uprising Rabbi. This Pharisee has come to evaluate the teachings of this man Jesus who some call a prophet. At this moment he completely doubts all speculation that this man is indeed a prophet
“If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
To this Pharisee, a true man of God would be far too holy to even be seen with such a woman! However, Jesus not only knew who this woman was, He knew this Pharisee’s proud thoughts. Thus he addresses the very heart of this Pharisee’s misunderstanding:
“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.” (Luke 7:41-47.)
Although this woman lived her life in notorious sin, she was saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. Ironically although this Pharisee lived an upright moral life the secret sin of self-righteousness robbed him of the kingdom of heaven. It is not until we realize that we are sinners who need much forgiveness that Christ becomes our greatest treasure.
This woman was well aware that her sin deeply offended God. She was well aware that her sin was an act of rebellion. She knew she was not a victim to circumstance, but rather a sinner in need of grace and grace she was given. Her joy was full because she received grace at the hands of Jesus.
Often I can find myself becoming depressed as I look at my own performance. I see how far I fall short and realize that no matter how hard I try I will never be moral enough. There is always another failure, another character flaw. However I do not have to live my life chasing joy that is found in my own righteousness, rather I can take joy in what Christ has done for me.
All the wicked, vile sins I have committed have been nailed to the cross of Christ. I bear them no more. Every stain has been washed away by His blood. Rather than wear my own shame Christ wore it on the cross and bore the wrath of God in my place. I now am clothed with His perfect righteousness through faith in Him. By Christ’s resurrection death no longer can lay a hold of me because I too will rise when Christ returns. Hallelujah for the salvation that is in Christ!
Dear reader, is your joy found in the complete works of Christ? Do you recognize how much you need forgiveness? Are you more like the sinful woman who realized she needed a Savior or the foolish Pharisee who delighted in his own self-perceived righteousness? Truth be told, the one who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
This man thought he was great until Christ showed him he was not. Many will see on the day Christ returns to judge the world in righteousness that they were never great, they were never good. Truth be told all men no matter how moral on the exterior are wicked rebels on the inside. On that day when Christ returns it will be too late to repent. I plead with you today sinner, throw yourself on the mercy of Christ. Turn from your sin. Trust in Christ alone and know the joy of his forgiveness.
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