Luke 7 tells the story of a woman who had been forgiven of much sin, and in return, she had great love for the One who had forgiven and received her. The woman realized her depravity and great need for Jesus, so when she found Him, she poured her appreciation upon Him, using expensive oil on His feet and her tears and hair to wash the dust away. Her story is one that we often look to as a demonstration of extravagant love and appreciation of our Savior.
In contrast, the Pharisee hadn’t received revelation of his personal need. He felt little appreciation of Jesus and much condemnation for others. Instead of honoring Jesus when He came to his house, he questioned His judgment. Instead of recognizing the love of Jesus, he focused on the woman’s sinful past. He questioned the motives behind her demonstration of worship for Jesus. Francis Frangipane explains this type of heart-condition so well. He says, “Since he seeks no mercy, he has no mercy to give; since he is always under God’s judgment, judging is what comes through him.” The man and the woman in the story viewed Jesus and their own need of Him so differently. Let’s look closely at their different perspectives and postures, and learn how to become ones who truly love – much!
The story of Luke 7:36-50 (NKJV)
Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 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, 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.
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.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”
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. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 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.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
She has wet My feet with her tears.
First, the woman positioned herself at the feet of Jesus and let her tears fall on his feet. She used her hair to wipe the dust and dirt away. She expressed great sorrow for her sin. Her tears and washing Jesus’ feet with her hair demonstrated gratefulness fully expressed. The judgments of others didn’t matter to her. She was completely in love-debt to Jesus and willing to look like a fool, even when others questioned her actions. She intrinsically understood the truth of Romans 2:4 (TLB):
“Don’t you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
In contrast, the Pharisee had no tears, no sorrow, because he considered himself righteous. This attitude kept him in a place of distance from Jesus. When we compare ourselves to others instead of acknowledging our own need for Jesus, our attitude is one of judgment rather than appreciation.
She has not ceased to kiss my feet.
Next, the woman kissed the feet of Jesus, and she didn’t stop. It was a continual appreciation of His acceptance of her. A kiss on the feet is an act of utmost humility. The Pharisee “gave Jesus no kiss.”He was not only judgmental of the woman, but also suspicious of Jesus when He accepted her.
This woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.
Finally, the woman anointed the feet of Jesus, not with common olive oil, but with costly ointment from her alabaster jar. This was heartfelt worship – a pouring out of something precious, for His glory and pleasure. Such unrestrained worship honored Jesus. Unfortunately, the Pharisee neglected to anoint the head of Jesus, as was custom of the day. He withheld the honor that Jesus deserved and gave Him nothing; the woman who’d been forgiven of much, gave everything she had.
How will we respond to Jesus?
However we've lived in the past, like the woman or the Pharisee, we can choose to be ones who love much now. It begins with acknowledging our need for Jesus, and humbling ourselves before Him. As we spend time in His presence, we overcome judgment with intimacy. Ultimately, as we give all of our hearts to Him and abandon ourselves to an appreciative lifestyle of worship, we can’t help but give Him our very best, acknowledging that He has given His best for us. Living from this place of lavish gratitude will keep us focused on love – love for the One who saved us and love for the ones around us.
When we live from this place of humility and gratefulness, acknowledging our need for Christ daily, we experience a profound revelation of God’s grace and goodness towards us. Our hearts then respond to this greater depth of love with faith in Jesus like we’ve ever experienced.
Our Prayer ~ Lord, teach us to value You and what You’ve done for us. Teach us to treasure our time with You. Help us to worship you in abandon as we realize the gift that you are to us. Holy Spirit, help our hearts to live in a state of humility and sincere adoration, bowed at the feet of Jesus. Help us to turn away from judgment and choose to be ones who love much.