The Wrong Person in the Right Place
In Luke 7 Jesus is sitting and having dinner when an uninvited guest shows up and causes a stir. A woman of ill-repute shows up and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoint them with an expensive perfume. It is one of those moments in Jesus’ life where I wish I was a fly on the wall. There is no way of knowing the murmurings that took place as she made her way to Jesus. The looks of shock, disgust and disdain from the host were plain to see. But, Jesus had a different look.
In this moment we get a glimpse of what it was like for a sinner to have the king of kings extend forgiveness.
One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. There is something ominous in that superlative. The vision of this ferocious beast, capable of destroying anything or anyone that gets in its way is awe inspiring. Movies like The Lion King and Aslan, from the Chronicles of Narnia serve as examples of the power of this animal. At the same time both of these examples demonstrate the tenderness of the king of beasts. There is a majestic quality to lions.
This is the irony of this moment. The Lion of Judah does not lash out at the sinner. Rather, Jesus allows her to do what she had set her mind and heart to do. He does not interfere, but rather illustrates to his host the reality of what is taking place. Worship and forgiveness; salvation and redemption; grace and justice; reconciliation and healing are all happening at the same time.
Only the chief of sinners can experience the king of kings. I think that is why Paul the apostle saw such powerful demonstrations of the Spirit in his ministry. He recognized that he was like this woman. He was like the great hymn describes, a wretch.
Jesus own words reveal what he saw.
44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47, ESV)
How much do you need to be forgiven for?
That is an interesting question. Have you ever considered that the connection between your love of and for Jesus is directly tied to how much you feel you need to be forgiven? The more we can feel the depth of our sin, the greater our love for the one who forgives. We are not supposed to wallow in our sin or beat ourselves up for our sin. What Jesus is reminding us of here is that the reality and weight of our sin should bring to our minds the reality and wonder of our salvation in Jesus.
The Sin of False Piety
The danger that was demonstrated by Simon, Jesus’ host, is that he actually thought that he was in the right by condemning this woman AND Jesus. Simon even questions Jesus genuineness by asking himself if Jesus is a prophet at all (Luke 7:39).
This is one of the more obvious examples of someone assuming that they understand God’s plan. This is a dangerous place to be. We are in no position to question God’s abilities or intentions. Simon should have known better. But, that would assume that he saw himself as this woman did. To know God is to humble yourself before him. To grow in grace and experience life altering forgiveness is to accept what we really are–sinners deserving of hell. Only then, when we have come face to face with ourselves, will we be able to accept who God wants to make us.
Jesus did not die to adopt spoiled children into the family of God. Jesus died to save children without a home, a family, or a name. We are sons and daughters of God because God brought us in, not because we deserved it. We do not deserve to be a part of the family of God. We never have. But, thanks be to God who is rich in mercy and abounding in grace toward us. I am so thankful that the Lion of Judah forgives because there is another lion, not as powerful, but just as dangerous who is seeking as well (1 Peter 5:8). And his intentions are not as noble.