The end of Luke chapter seven details one of the most moving stories of passion and forgiveness in the bible. In the midst of dinner with religious leaders, a woman from the city quietly approaches Jesus. The bible characterizes this woman as a sinner; she was recognized the Pharisee. Her wrongdoing and reputation preceded her. She was unacceptable. She enters the house of this religious leader, risking disapproval and shame, and brings with her an expensive flask of perfume.
In an act of pure emotion, she stands behind Jesus as He reclines eating, and begins to weep. Her tears fall onto His feet. She then wipes them away with her hair and kisses His feet and anoints them with the perfume she was carrying. It was an uncomfortable, socially unacceptable, embarrassing, and completely unfiltered act of love, adoration and worship. In the midst of the Pharisee’s judgement, Jesus gives an illustration to illuminate what had just occurred. Two debtors have their debts completely cancelled. One of the debtors owed fifty, the other five hundred. Jesus asks the Pharisee, “Which will love [the moneylender] more?” Jesus then explains that the Pharisee had forgotten the customs of hospitality and affection when Jesus entered his home, but that this woman had come in and provided these acts of hospitality and affection in a deeply personal way. Jesus concludes, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
It is easy to compare ourselves to others. We can look around and find someone in worse shape, someone who has a worse reputation, and use them to justify and rationalize our own behavior. As we build ourselves up in our own mind, we can adopt an attitude that believes we only need Jesus to forgive us for tiny indiscretions. This is a falsehood. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and the penalty for sin is death. Humanity’s circumstances are the same. None were righteous; all need a savior. Our love and devotion to Jesus is directly related to our understanding of what He has done for us. We have all been forgiven and received life-saving grace. He has made us righteous before God. When we understand where we came from, and how we have been freed from sin and death, our love for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wells up from within us, producing acts of worship, adoration and devotion. Today may you fully realize what Jesus has done, and may a new love for God spring up from your heart, producing acts of love and worship to our savior.