Luke 7:36-50: Love Much
July 3, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
1 Chronicles 5-6, Psalm 126, Luke 7:36-50, Colossians 2:1-7
In many ways one of the most important stories in the Bible for clarifying the nature of the gospel today is in front of us this morning. A “woman of the city” who is a “sinner”—almost certainly together intended as euphemisms for a prostitute—comes to Jesus while he is reclining at table at a Pharisees house. She does not merely greet Jesus (itself would have appeared suspicious enough) but touches him: she wets his feet with her tears, wipes his feet with her hair, kisses his feet and anoints them with oil.
Perhaps understandably the Pharisees are somewhat askance, and remark to each other that surely Jesus could not be a prophet for he would know what kind of woman it was who was treating him in this way. However, Jesus knew full well who she was, and it was done to be a lesson to Simon. This is a lesson from a prostitute. Whereas, the Pharisee had not even performed the basic hospitality task of providing water for Jesus to wash his feet, the woman had done abundantly more than that.
The reason why this is so significant is illustrated by the little parable that Jesus tells to introduce the object lesson. The person who has a greater debt cancelled will love more (7:41-42). This woman loves him so much because she has had so much forgiven her. It is not that her deeds of love earn her forgiveness—any more than the person whose debt was cancelled and therefore loves the person who cancelled his debt somehow merited that forgiveness—for as Jesus says it is her “faith” that saved her (7:50). But those who love much are those who are conscious of the greatness of the sins that they have had forgiven.
Certainly, we all have much in the way of sin to be forgiven. The more conscious we are both of the nature of our sins and the extraordinary freeness of Christ’s forgiveness, the more exuberant will be our passionate love for him. That is why the way to stir up devotional action, discipline, practice, radical commitment to Christ is by emphasizing sin and grace. The more clearly we understand what it means to be a hell-bent sinner, and the more clearly we grasp the total freeness of Christ’s forgiveness, the more we will act with passionate commitment towards Christ and his mission. When we understand the gospel, we will give Jesus everything.
The question of course that this story poses is twofold. First, and more importantly, if also most basically, “who is this who even forgives sin?” That is, do we accept Jesus as the only Savior and Lord? The second question is to ask ourselves whether our love is as radical, exuberant, and committed as this “sinful woman.” If not, perhaps we need to heed this “lesson from a prostitute,” become by God’s Spirit more aware of our own sinfulness, and by God’s Spirit become more aware of God’s forgiveness of our sins. That way we too will “love much.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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