How Much Do You Love Him?

Posted: October 23, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 7:36-50, “How Much Do You Love Him?”

I love being the dad of a pre-teen, but I really miss the days when my daughter was small. Every day she would sit in my lap, and we’d have our storybook time.  Some of them were read so often, the only reason to turn the pages was for the illustrations to be seen…we had the words memorized.  One of the books starred two jackrabbits: a father and his child: Big Nutbrown Hare & Little Nutbrown Hare, “Guess How Much I Love You.”  The son would challenge the father on how much the little boy could imagine loving his dad, and the dad would always find a way to double the distance when it came to loving his boy. 

It’s fun to think about how much we love our children, our spouses, or other family members – but when was the last time you considered how much you love God?  For some, you might need to ask if you even love God at all.  After all, without faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior, you don’t even have a relationship with God the Father in the first place.  But for those who do – how much do you love Him?  How do you show it?

One of the great things about beginning every church service with singing is that we get to begin every service with worship.  That’s not to say that worship only happens through music – hopefully it continues through our prayers & through the study of the Scriptures, etc.  But music is a great tool to focus our attention on the worship of our God, so we can exalt Him & glorify His name with our whole hearts.  It is time solely dedicated to the worship and glory of the Living God of our salvation.  Do you use it in that way?  Do you truly worship God when you open your mouth to sing, or are you just singing along out of habit?  And it extends beyond this building.  What do you do to worship God throughout the week?  Do you worship Him at all, or is it only when you walk through the doors of a church building that you think to worship God?  Jesus told us the greatest of all of the Old Testament commandments is the love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Mk 12:30).  In what ways does your life demonstrate this?

For some, worship seems to be stilted & perfunctory.  For others, it is free-flowing & abundant.  What makes the difference?  Their understanding of forgiveness.  Those who realize how much they have been forgiven worship God proportionally.  They worship God extravagantly because God the Son has forgiven them extravagantly.  If we’ve been having a difficult time in worship, perhaps it’s because we’ve taken our forgiveness for granted.

This is the lesson so vividly illustrated the night Jesus ate dinner with Simon the Pharisee.  Whereas Simon was shocked at the events taking place in his home as a sinful woman entered, Jesus was not.  Jesus understood that the woman understood her sin & forgiveness, and her gratefulness was like a torrential river bursting forth.  She worshipped in proportion to her forgiveness.  So should we.

Remember our context: Jesus was continuing His Galilean ministry of teaching and healing.  Luke had recounted one major moment of teaching with the Sermon on the Plain, and Jesus’ focus on practical kingdom living – to be merciful towards others as our Father in heaven is merciful towards us.  Luke went on to show Jesus’ powerful authority over time, space, sickness, and even death.  These miracles attracted the attention of John the Baptist, who had been experiencing a bit of a spiritual crisis.  If Jesus was powerful enough to raise the dead, why was John still in prison?  Had John been mistaken about Jesus’ identity as the Messiah?  No.  To answer John’s question, Jesus pointed John’s disciples to His actions.  What Jesus did was the proof of who Jesus is, and it fit exactly with Messianic expectations.  That proof may have worked for John, but not so much for the Pharisees.  Their skepticism was based in rebellion, and it didn’t matter what Jesus did – they were determined not to believe.

All of this sets up the interaction between Simon the Pharisee and an unnamed woman of sin.  Luke already pointed out how tax collectors and other sinners justified God when they heard Jesus’ teaching and witnessed His power, whereas the Pharisees & scribes rejected Him in their rebellion. (7:29-30)  That general state of affairs is illustrated in miniature at the dinner party of Chapter 7.  One person gladly received the forgiveness of God, believing in Jesus – another was left bewildered and confused.  Which would it be: the religious elite, or the woman of sin?  It would be the one who understood the extent of her sin and forgiveness.

Luke 7:36–50

  • A sinful woman in a Pharisee’s house (36-39)

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.

  • Right at the start, we find a seemingly unusual situation.  After all, the Pharisees have been set up as the opposition to Jesus.  What are they doing dining together?  Although some believe that the Pharisee was setting up a trap for Jesus, or engaging in some other act of deception, remember that not every single Pharisee was an enemy of Jesus.  Nicodemus famously sat with Jesus for a late-night conversation about the new spiritual birth, and later came to faith in Him.  Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin council, potentially a Pharisee, and he also had faith in Christ.  It’s perfectly reasonable to give this Pharisee (Simon) the benefit of the doubt.  If he invited Jesus to dinner, then it’s quite possible that he had somewhat of an open mind towards Him.  Perhaps his own conscience had been pricked by Jesus’ earlier chastisement of the Pharisees in general, and Simon wanted to investigate Jesus for himself.  Whatever the reason (which we’re never told), Simon did invite Jesus, and Jesus accepted the invitation.
  • Just the fact Jesus went to Simon’s home speaks highly of Christ.  Whether or not Simon actually came to faith in Jesus is unknown, but Jesus was willing to meet Simon where he was.  Of course, Jesus never hesitated to call out hypocrisy where He saw it, but He was also perfectly willing to reveal Himself to those who humbled themselves before Him.  If someone seeks Jesus in truth, Jesus does not hide Himself from them.  As the writer of Hebrews says about God, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)
  • BTW – the specific setting here of the home of a Pharisee sets this particular event apart from another anointing of Jesus later on in His ministry.  Each of the four gospels record an anointing of Jesus by a woman, yet although normally the three Synoptic gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk) agree with each other, this time they do not.  Matthew & Mark (Mt 26:6-13, Mk 14:3-9) each write of an anointing at the home of a Simon, but they list him as “Simon the leper,” and certainly not as a Pharisee.  Additionally, Matthew & Mark record the event taking place in Bethany, whereas by all indications from Luke, this took place in Capernaum in Galilee (though technically the city is unidentified).  Matthew & Mark write of the disciples arguing over the event, saying that the money spent on the oil could have been spent for the poor – and Jesus chastises them over it.  Luke says nothing about the disciples or money, focusing only on the interaction with Simon.  Finally, Matthew & Mark say nothing about the character of the woman, whereas Luke pointedly identifies her as a woman of sin.  All in all, it seems probable that Matthew & Mark each refer to Jesus’ anointing by Mary, the sister of Martha & Lazarus (perhaps in agreement with John), whereas Luke writes of something totally different.
    • So what?  (1) We don’t have to try to force every event in one gospel account to line up with every other event in the other gospel accounts.  Just because something happened to Jesus once, doesn’t mean it could not happen multiple times. (2) It shows that Luke did not simply copy the accounts of Mark & Matthew.  No doubt he was familiar with them, but Luke also engaged in his own independent research (being guided by the Holy Spirit).  Each gospel account brings its own unique information and point of view, and thus each one is important to pay close attention to.

37 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, 38 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.

  • What sort of sin the woman was known for is left unsaid.  The implication is that she was a prostitute – which is certainly possible.  What is also unsaid is her name.  Although many people assume this to be Mary Magdalene, the Bible gives us absolutely no reason to assume this.  In fact, Luke goes on to mention Mary Magdalene by name in the very next chapter (8:3), and it makes no sense for him to wait until then to identify her, if she was the woman here.  It’s a good reminder to keep our interpretations to what is actually in the Scripture, rather than reading information into the Scripture.
  • Whoever this woman was, she strolled into the house and began doing some really unusual things.  Not that her presence was unusual, nor were the actions.  It’s that she was the one doing them, in combination with how she did them.  When travelling rabbis were in town, it was quite common for townspeople to listen outside homes that hosted them, with the intent of perhaps catching some teaching along the way.  In addition, it wasn’t unheard of for poor people to go to the homes of wealthy people hosting banquets, in hopes of being granted some of the leftovers.  Yet this woman plainly came with a different intent.  She wasn’t there to eat, nor even to listen to Jesus – she was there to worship.  She brought with her an expensive flask of perfumed oil (or spikenard), and poured it over Jesus’ feet.  Normally, someone might anoint the head of another, but she used this on what most Jews would have considered culturally unclean: His feet.  First her tears fell on the feet of Jesus, then her oil.  Without a towel available, the woman let down her hair (another cultural no-no), and used her own hair to wipe up the excess oil.  Foot-washing was common; this sort of foot-washing was not.  This would have been scandalous. 
  • It’s her emotional brokenness which is so evident.  There she is, weeping & weeping.  She doesn’t just kiss Jesus’ feet once, but she’s doing it over & over.  The Greek tense implies a continual past action – something that didn’t stop.  It didn’t stop, because she couldn’t stop.  Her heart was overflowing with love towards Jesus, and she had no other way to express it.
  • Can you imagine being there?  We can almost feel the tension in the air as all of the oxygen seems to get sucked out of the room & all of the attention falls upon this woman and her actions towards Jesus.  It would have been uncomfortable to watch, yet something from which you couldn’t rip your eyes away.  Such emotion!  So many tears!  This was her heart laid bare before her Savior, and she didn’t care who else looked upon it.
    • Have you ever been that open with Jesus?  Obviously we do not have His physical body to weep over, as she did – but He is just as alive and real today as He was in that dining room.  Have you wept over Jesus?  Has your heart been laid bare before Him?  The example here is of a woman’s worship, but this sort of emotion isn’t limited to women.  Men: have you allowed yourself to be broken before your Jesus?  Have you given yourself completely over to Him, without regard to how others might see you?  This kind of intimacy might make us uncomfortable, but there is freedom in it.  Think on it: Jesus is the Savior who has forgiven you of everything.  Every sinful deed, every sinful thought.  He knows the things you wouldn’t dare breathe to another human being, and He still loves you & still grants you His forgiveness through the cross and resurrection.  There is no darkened shadow within your heart of which Jesus is not aware, and He still loves you as a child of God.  If you cannot allow yourself to be broken with Jesus, with whom can you?  He is worthy of our unrestrained worship!
  • No doubt the woman quickly became the center of attention (a pretty amazing feat considering the Son of God was in the room!).  Not everyone approved, and her actions even raised some questions in regards to Jesus.  Vs. 39…

39 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.”

  • The “if” is what is called a 2nd class condition, in that it assumes the condition is contrary to fact.  The idea is that Simon the Pharisee thinks, “If Jesus really were a prophet, which He isn’t, then He would know these things…”  Being touched by a woman of sin would have made a rabbi unclean, and thus Jesus (in Simon’s mind) should never have allowed Himself to be touched by her.  A true prophet of God would have been able to identify who she was, even having never met her.  Thus, the fact that Jesus allowed her to touch Him in this way was cast-iron proof that Jesus wasn’t the prophet that He claimed to be.  (Or so the Pharisee thought.)
  • Do you detect a bit of snobbery here?  You’re not alone.  That the woman was a sinner was apparently a matter of record.  Prostitutes of the day were easily recognizable, and even in a larger town like Capernaum, it wasn’t so large that people did not know one another.  Even if the woman wasn’t a prostitute, even Luke notes that she was known as a sinner.  That wasn’t a problem. The problem is his judgmental attitude.  Was the woman a sinner?  Yes…but so was he.  If he had a problem with Jesus willingly allowing Himself to be touched by a sinner, why didn’t he have a problem with Jesus coming to dinner at the home of a sinner?  The sin of the woman may have been different from the sin of the Pharisee, but it was still sin.
    • This kind of judgmental hypocrisy still abounds in religious circles – even among otherwise well-meaning born-again Christians.  One doesn’t have to actually be a Pharisee in order to act like one.  All of us have sinned – all of us have fallen short of the glory of God.  One person has stolen money or time from his employer – another has engaged in pornography – someone else has slept around – another is a habitual drunk, etc.  Pick your poison – we’re all guilty of something.  Just because our particular sins of choice might not be as evident to other people as their own doesn’t erase the fact that it exists.  The sin of pride is just as damning as the sin of fornication.  Both will be judged at the throne of God.
    • Be careful in judging others, lest you be caught up in the same judgment.  This doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to sin, giving up our duty as Christians to be salt & light in this world pointing people back to God.  But it does mean that in addressing the sin of others, we do so with the utmost humility, knowing that we are no less need of the grace of Jesus than anyone else.
  • Jesus understood what was going on, and gently brought it to the attention of the Pharisee.  Vs. 40…
  • Parable and contrast (40-47)

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

  • Before we get to the parable, notice something Luke shows but doesn’t expressly state: Jesus knew Simon’s thoughts.  In vs. 39, it was specifically said that the Pharisee spoke his doubts to himself, yet it becomes plain that Jesus knew exactly what he was thinking.  Jesus knew Simon’s mind.  How so?  Because Jesus is God. This is His omniscience on display.  The Pharisee didn’t need to say his thoughts out loud for Jesus to know them – Jesus knew exactly what was in Simon’s heart & mind, and was able to address it without Simon ever uttering a word.
    • If Jesus did it with the Pharisee, we can be sure He does it with us, too.  He knows the deepest recesses of our hearts, without us ever needing to say anything out loud or perform any public action.  This is both sobering, and sweet relief.  It’s sobering in that we cannot hide anything from His sight.  He knows exactly who we are inside & out, and thus the judgment we face will be thorough.  It is relief in that there is no need to try to hide anything from Him.  He knows it all, so we may as well be honest with Him.  We don’t need to put on a pretense in our prayers – He can see right through it anyway. 
  • The parable starts out simple enough: two debtors, one creditor.  It’s the amount owed that stands out.  A denarius was basically the daily wage of a common laborer, and Jesus said that one debtor owed 50 denarii, and the other 500.  That’s a factor of 10 between them.  Both amounts are significant, but when we put the two in relatable terms, the issue becomes perfectly clear.  One debtor owed roughly 21 months of salary to the creditor, while the other owed 2.  Two months’ worth of wages is a lot of cash, but it pales in comparison to what you would make in almost two years!  In an ancient economy, one debt was tough but possible to pay – the other was unthinkable.
  • It was what the creditor did that was so amazing.  Vs. 42…

42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”

  • The creditor forgave the debt.  No matter how much each debtor owed him, the creditor forgave it all.  It was like a credit card company shredding your account information, making it as though you never spent a dime.  Both debts were completely cancelled.  That sort of grace will rightly have some response!  Yet the responses would understandably be different, based on the amount forgiven.  Imagine being forgiven a simple insurance deductible, vs. being forgiven a massive hospital bill ranging into the thousands upon thousands of dollars.  That’s the difference described.  No doubt there would be different joy!
  • That was the question posed by Jesus to Simon, and Simon seems to have seen where Jesus was going with it.  He thought it through, and answered in the affirmative, and Jesus agrees with him.  Like a teacher patiently working through a lesson with his student, so did Jesus do with Simon.

44 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. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.

  • This isn’t a chastisement; it’s a contrast.  Some have seen Jesus’ words as a rebuke to Simon, thinking that Simon owed Jesus the least of these courtesies seeing that Jesus was a guest in his home.  The Pharisee didn’t give it, so Jesus is rebuking him & affirming that the woman did not only the very least, but went up & above what Simon should have done.  Yet that isn’t necessarily the case.  Simon wasn’t discourteous to Jesus (he did invite Jesus to dinner, after all), but Simon certainly didn’t go out of his way for Jesus.  He didn’t treat Jesus with contempt, but neither did he treat Jesus with love.  He was just barely more than indifferent…and that was the problem.  Anyone is worth more than indifference, as we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  But Jesus is certainly worth more!  Think of it: the Son of God was in Simon’s home – the Messiah was sitting with him at dinner.  What an incredible honor!  No matter what one’s political persuasions might be, if the President of the United States came and had dinner with you at your home, it would be an exciting event, full of pomp & circumstance.  You’d pull out all the stops, cook your very best meal, give your home a thorough cleaning, dress your very best, etc.  When you greeted your honored guest, you would do so with joy & the utmost attention.  Simon didn’t.  He also had a head-of-state dining with him (the King of Israel), but more than national leader, Jesus is the King of Creation.  He is God the Son, incarnate.  If anyone deserved an outpouring of honor, it is Jesus!  And yet Simon didn’t do it.  No doubt he served a well-planned meal at a formal banquet, but he didn’t go out of his way to honor the honored guest.  It was as if he greeted Jesus with a “Hey,” and pointed to the place where Jesus was supposed to sit.  In today’s society, it’d be like not offering to take His coat, or offer Him a drink or some other refreshment as Jesus walked through the door.  It’s not necessarily a purposeful rudeness, but it is indifferent nonetheless.
  • Contrast Simon’s treatment of Jesus with the woman’s. She gave Jesus all the honor Simon should have given, and more.  To have one’s feet washed upon entering a home was common, due to the dusty streets of ancient Judea & the practice of wearing sandals.  To receive a kiss of greeting was culturally the equivalent of shaking hands or receiving a welcoming hug.  To receive an anointing of oil was a bit more rare, but it was still refreshment – a cool perfumed gift that would have been like being handed a cup of aromatic tea or coffee.  It was something that woke up the senses & helped a person relax after leaving the busy streets.  Simon could have done any of that, but he didn’t.  Instead, it was this woman – this sinful, despised, unclean woman in the eyes of the Pharisee & others – this same woman did it.  And she didn’t just perform the minimum.  Her acts of loving hospitality were made completely personal through her tears, hair, kiss, and expensive oil.  She lavished her attention upon Jesus, not merely greeting Him as an honored guest, but with all the worship due the Holy God (for that is who He is!).
  • Let’s get personal for a moment.  Are you indifferent to Jesus?  We reject the thought of it. “Me?  Absolutely not!  I honor Jesus as my Lord & King!”  But let’s think it through.  Like Simon the Pharisee, we who have placed our faith in Jesus have invited Him into the home of our hearts.  How have we treated Him now that He’s arrived?  Do we lavish Him with love & attention – or have we barely paid Him notice & taken Him for granted?  Church rolls are filled with people who have received Jesus’ gift of forgiveness, yet who never give Jesus any gifts of their own.  They asked Jesus to come into their lives as their Lord & to save them from sin…but after that, He’s asked to sit to the side.  There is no gift of authentic heartfelt worship – there is no sacrifice of praise.  There is no outpouring of honest prayer, nor overwhelming gratefulness for any time spent in His presence.  Instead, many people are content to meet with Jesus for a couple of hours on Sunday mornings, give Him the occasional Wednesday night, and that’s it.  Aside from quick mealtime blessings, they don’t really give Jesus any thought at all.  That’s no different that Simon the Pharisee.  That’s not what we’re called to – and that’s not what Jesus deserves!  When other saints of the past were in the presence of God, they fell to their face in worship.  They were overwhelmed with the reality of their sin & the holiness of God, and they couldn’t help but respond with praise and worship.  And that’s the issue, as Jesus said to Simon…

47 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.”

  • Here’s the principle: we love in proportion to our forgiveness.  Or better yet: we love in proportion to how much we understand we’ve been forgiven.  Simon didn’t think he had much need of forgiveness, so he gave Jesus little love as the Messiah.  The woman understood how lost she had been, which is why she was so extravagant in her love towards her Savior.  The right perspective of our sin and the holiness of God makes all the difference.  Isaiah saw God & recognized himself to be a man of unclean lips.  Simon Peter while in his boat recognized the power of God within Jesus, and pleaded with Jesus to leave, knowing how sinful he himself was.  The apostle John saw the glorified risen Jesus in front of him, and fell at Jesus’ feet as though he were dead.  Dramatic?  Undoubtedly.  Over the top?  Not at all – not when we consider who we are & who Jesus is.  Jesus is the Holy God – incarnate perfection & holiness.  We’re sinners, defiled by filthy hearts & filthy actions, doomed for death.  Yet to have that death sentence removed?  To have the curse of sin lifted away from us?  To have the invitation to freely come into God’s presence, not as an enemy, but as His child?  How amazing!  How wonderful!  It’s no wonder the woman gave Jesus so much love…so should we!
  • Do we understand the depth of our sin?  Do we understand the scope of our forgiveness?  The way we worship and pray is a good benchmark of whether or not we do.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  Not everyone is made the same way, so not everyone is going to worship God in the same way.  Whereas this particular woman shed tears over Jesus, someone else rarely sheds tears at all.  That doesn’t mean the 2nd is incapable of worship – it just means he/she worships differently.  The key is authentic gratitude; not showmanship.  One person raises hands in worship because he/she is giving glory to God; another person does it to draw attention to himself, showing how “spiritual” he is.  Same action; different motivation.  We want our motives to be pure, and thus our expression to be honest & sincere.
  • How do we get there?  By going through the cross.  If we really want to come to grips with how vile our sin is & how badly we need to be forgiven, all we need do is look at the cross of Jesus.  It took the torture and death of the beloved Son of God for the price of your sins to be paid.  It took His literal resurrection from the grave for you to be forgiven.  Heaven and earth needed to be moved for you and I to be saved.  The cost was tremendous! Isaiah 53:4–6, "(4) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. (5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." —  1 Peter 1:18–19, "(18) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Can we count the cost of the cross?  Is it possible to fathom the price paid for our redemption?  It is beyond compare!  No amount of worship can ever be enough!
  • Jesus’ response to the woman (48-50)

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

  • Had the woman already been forgiven?  Yes – Jesus said as much in vs. 47, and that was the whole point of His parable.  What He does here is affirm her forgiveness.  He had already extended to her His grace…she just needed to know it.
  • That was a big problem for those who were listening.  They (rightly) understood an important theological point: forgiveness is a divine prerogative.  Human beings can forgive other human beings for sins committed against us individually – we do not have the authority to forgive sins committed against others or against God.  Yet that is exactly what Jesus proclaimed upon the woman.  Although it is obvious that the woman had seen and heard Jesus elsewhere, there’s no indication that He had any previous association with her.  There’s nothing in the text about a grand moment of confession – just a simple acknowledgement of her & proclamation of the sins of her life being released.  How could Jesus forgive her?  Simple: Jesus is God!  We already saw His omniscience in vs. 40 – we’ve seen His omnipotence in vs. 9 & 14 as He healed the centurion’s servant and raised the dead.  Now we see His authority to forgive as only God can forgive.  There can be absolutely no question that Jesus is acting as God in full view of the people, and that is exactly who He is.

50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

  • It wasn’t the crowd of objecting religious scholars that concerned Jesus; it was the woman in front of Him.  She needed affirmation of her forgiveness, and that was exactly what Jesus provided for her.  She no longer need worry over her sins of the past – her debts against God were cancelled.  She had sweet forgiveness, and now she could live & rejoice in peace!  (And so can we!)
  • How did it all come?  Through “faith.”  It wasn’t her extravagant worship that saved her.  Her acts of love, though beautiful, did not purchase her salvation.  No – she was saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, by the means of her faith that she placed in Him.  She knew in her heart of hearts that only Jesus could save her, and that was why she was so grateful in the first place.

Extravagant forgiveness leads to extravagant worship.  When we understand the severity of our sin – when we come to grips with the price of our redemption, we cannot help but be overwhelmingly grateful for our Jesus.  That’s what happened with the woman, and that is exactly what was missed by Simon.  The Pharisee likely thought he was doing a great thing, inviting Jesus over to his house for dinner.  He had extended an invitation to this controversial rabbi to dine with him – something other Pharisees had not done.  No doubt Simon was curious about Jesus, but he wasn’t bowled over by Him.  To this point, Simon was content to leave Jesus on the sidelines.

Not the woman.  The woman understood exactly who she was, and who Jesus is.  She understood that she was desperate for the grace of God, and that Jesus freely offered it, and her gratefulness burst out like a river.  Her worship was lavish & authentic, and totally received by the Lord Jesus as being right & appropriate.  He had indeed forgiven her, and He blessed the outpouring of her love towards Himself.

What does your love for Jesus look like?  Is it lavish & extravagant – however that might look according to your personality?  Or is it casually indifferent, taking Jesus for granted?  The old cliché states “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and so often that’s the case in our faith.  We know we’re forgiven – we believed upon Jesus long ago – and that’s it.  Now it’s become hum-drum.  Now it’s stuff we simply assume, but it no longer shocks or surprises us.  If that’s the case, we’ve lost sight of the cost.  We’ve forgotten the sinfulness of our sin, and the scope of the cross.  We’ve forgotten how precious Jesus is, and the magnitude of the gift He’s given. 

Look again & remember!  Remember who you were apart from Christ, and think again upon who you now are.  You were an enemy of God, a slave of sin, doomed to death and destruction.  You were just as lost as any prostitute, meth addict, or whatever – even if your sins were mostly “acceptable” in the sight of the world.  But now, you are that no longer!  Because of Christ, you’ve been forgiven.  Because Jesus shed His blood, you’ve been washed clean.  Because Jesus rose from the grave, you’ve been made a child of God.  Because Jesus paid the price for your sin, now your debts against God have been fully released.  You were doomed for hell, and now you are destined to live forever in the presence of God.  As the song says, that is amazing grace!  That is something for which we can be extravagantly grateful.  So worship!  Worship in proportion to your forgiveness.  Give Christ your authentic praise.

  1. Bill Miller says:

    Pastor Tim, Just wondering here….The Pharisee asked or invited Jesus to his home to sit and eat with him. The Pharisee (Simon) I’m guessing let people into his home and around his table to eat even if they were not Perfect in his opinion? The woman was a sinner (as was Simon lol). I am supposing possibly that Simon either wanted clout at his table but at the same time possibly had invited the woman that the whole city knew as a “big” or “really bad” sinner to eat with his party of people that he had invited. Ok to sum up my question, why or how did the woman end up at the table in the Pharisee’s home to begin with??? Thankyou Pastor Tim

  2. timburns says:

    Hi Bill – great to hear from you! No one really knows why the woman ended up at Simon’s home. It was not uncommon for uninvited people to stand outside the home of someone who was hosting a travelling rabbi, and she may have originally been among a small crowd of people seeking to listen in on the conversation between Jesus & Simon. Additionally, those who were poor would sometimes go to banquets in hopes of receiving leftovers to eat. Considering the woman had an alabaster vial of perfumed oil, she probably wasn’t going hungry – but it’s possible she entered this way as well. Out of the commentaries I read, those were the two main theories that stood out as to the initial presence of the woman. It doesn’t seem likely that Simon invited her, judging from his own dismay at her presence. But again, no one knows for sure.

    Have a great day!

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