One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. She kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
Then Jesus answered his thoughts, “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people–500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. then he turned to the woman and said to Simon. “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”
And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
When I read this story, some many things come to mind. There are so many lessons that God teaches me…but one thing really stands out to me. And that is how much love this sinful woman lavished on her Savior. Nothing could stop her, even the scorn of the men in the room, from pouring out her love on Jesus. This simply amazes me because I am someone who tends to push my emotions deep down and try to hide them. So to just let it all out…to have this kind outlandish display of affection…it makes me wonder how I would act in her place.
Jesus teaches us the importance of love. In fact, he sums up the entire law of God into 2 very simple “love” commandment: Love God and Love Other. This is truly the purpose of our lives!
Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
I believe that I don’t always show God’s love because I don’t acknowledge or even recognize how much God loves me. I hide the truth of my sin from myself because I’m ashamed. I don’t want to think about it. I know I’m forgiven so I just want to look ahead and move on without stopping to recognize how I’ve sinned and failed and how much God has forgiven me.
There is a danger that comes with this: I fail to recognize how great my sin really is and in turn how great Jesus’ sacrifice and love for me is. And when I don’t understand and feel God’s great love for me, how can I show that love to others?
My love for God is actually a RESPONSE to his great love for me. But to respond to God’s love, I must first recognize His love for me. I understand it intellectually…God loved the world so much that he sent his one and only Son to die for us. (John 3:16), Yep, God is crazy about us!
But viewing God’s love through this global template of “He loves everybody” can sometimes cause me to miss the very thing He wants me to get…God Loves ME…personally…individually…and in spite of all my sin and failure.
God’s global love feels safe because I am lumped in with a whole bunch of other sinners so I don’t necessarily feel like my personal sin is called out. But recognizing God’s individual love for me means I have to face my own mess…my failure…my sin…and those ugly dark places in my heart that I don’t want anyone to know about…even myself.
But it’s when I come face to face with my sin and my own internal ugliness that I fully grasp the enormity of the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf. I truly see how GREAT his love is for me.
And I finally get it…why this sinful woman was willing to face the scorn of the men around the dinner table so she could lavish her love on her Savior…the one whose love for her was greater than any other. She just couldn’t hold it back…she had to pour out all of her love on Him.
It’s when we finally recognize God’s great love for us that Jesus’ first commandment, Love God, become so much easier. It’s like breathing…we breathe in God’s love for us and pour out our love and praise to Him. It reminds me of the worship song “Great Are You, Lord”. (If you’ve never heard it, listen to it here.)
I think that when Jesus told this sinful woman, “Your sins are forgiven,” her love for Him became even more uncontainable. And when he told her “Your faith has saved you, go in peace,” I like to believe she left that dinner pouring out that same love to everyone she encountered. Because an encounter with Jesus’ great love frees us to Love Others, Jesus’ second commandment to us.
I believe, and it is my personal experience, that once we have an honest and real encounter with the great love of Jesus we can’t help but fulfill His second commandment to Love Others.
Let’s take that breathing analogy one step further: Inhale in God’s love for us…Exhale our praise to Him…Inhale in God’s love for us…Exhale His love to everyone around us. Inhale…Exhale…Repeat…
This can become a beautiful rhythm in our lives. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our sin. Repent and ask forgiveness. Inhale God’s love like a heavenly mantel of peace to our souls. Pour out our love for Him in prayer, praise, and worship. Inhale His love again…Exhale His peace and love to those around us…and repeat…
Jesus…thank you for your great love. When I think of how deep your love really is for me, I can’t help but respond. Help me to love you with the same abandon as this sweet woman who poured out her tears onto your feet. And as I allow your love for me to fill my soul, allow me to pour out that love to those around me. Help me to Inhale…Exhale…Repeat…
Today’s post was written by Michele Barnes.
Michele is married to the love of her life, Jeff. She has 3 grown children and 1 very sweet grandson! Most days you can find Michele laughing with good friends, writing, or working with women. In the evenings she enjoys spending time in a few creative outlets like creative lettering, drawing, painting, and pottery. She loves snuggling with her dog, Tebow, and reading. But one of her favorite passions is playing with her grandson and laughing at his bright smile! You can find her most weekends worshiping at our Real Life Clermont campus.