Holy Week – Monday March 29 – GREAT LOVE
Holy Week – Monday March 29 – GREAT LOVE
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
– Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)
I have to say that this story from Luke is one of my favourites from the New Testament. There is so much here that to unpack it would take at least a four part sermon series. I will tell you though what I love about it: it demonstrates the great love of God.
I believe 21st Century Christendom has forgotten one of the most important concepts that separates Christianity from other world religions: it is the concept of forgiveness.
Why is it that it is so hard to forgive? Jesus always believed in second chances and He demonstrated this so many times in the New Testament. The woman with the alabaster jar of perfume is one of them.
I can imagine what the look on the face of the Pharisee as this woman began to kiss Jesus’ feet and to anoint them with very expensive perfume. She was known as a sinner and did not have the greatest reputation. This was a no no for Jesus, who was seen as a holy man or Rabbi in the eyes of the Pharisee.
And yet, I wonder what the Pharisee’s face looked like when he dealt with his own sins directly. Would he look as disgusted? Probably not.
I love the old saying, “When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you”. There is so much truth to this statement. We need to understand that the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye cannot compare to the plank in our own.
“But whoever has been forgiven little loves little”
When did we lose sight of forgiving those who wrong us? When did we become a people who judge first and ask questions later? When did we lose sight of the mercy and forgiveness of God? Jesus makes very clear in this story that it was BECAUSE of the sinful woman’s great love for Jesus that He forgave all of her sins.
ALL of them. Not one was missed.
I believe when we judge and cannot forgive others, it is because we have not experienced the deep deep love of God fully or we have forgotten about His love. This is why it is crucial to meditate on the love of God regularly. It keeps us in check and reminds us of how imperfect and sinful we are as well.
An internet meme that I saw today spoke volumes to me: “Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you”.
When we have “walked a mile in someone else’s shoes”, we begin to gain compassion and understanding as to why someone would sin a certain way. Seeing that all sins are equal in the eyes of God, we are in an equal playing field.
When we love God with everything that we are, authentically, unconditionally and without expectation, God sees us and forgives us. He knows every innermost thought and feeling, regret and remorse, and knows when our hearts are sincere.
The woman with the alabaster jar of perfume loved from the depths of her soul. Her love overflowed through her actions, where she could not contain her love for Jesus. She did not try to manipulate Jesus into doing anything for her. She gave the perfume that was probably meant for her own burial one day – this costly perfume – and anointed Jesus. This was the greatest gift she could have given and Jesus publicly acknowledged her love.
Today on the first day of Holy Week, I share this story to remind us all of the importance of forgiveness as an act of worship. As we forgive, we confirm that God’s love is real and genuine and that it has changed our lives. Is there anyone in your life that you have not fully forgiven? Have you held onto these feelings of hate or judgement and it has been eating away at your joy? You have the right to release these feelings, forgive the person who has wronged you and move forward. Forgiveness is an act of worship that shows how much you love God.
Forgive and move towards the cross.
The other important part to this story is the reminder to love God with all that you are. The great love you have for Him, as it is proven here, allows God to forgive the sins you have committed.
If you need to be forgiven, love God with passion and reverence.
As you worship during this holy week, may love and forgiveness be at the top of your list. Allow the example of the woman encourage us all and allow us to experience the deep deep love of Jesus.
You are Loved and we are called to love Him in a beautiful worshipful response. Your faith has saved you. May the peace of God be experienced as you journey to the cross.