Thursday, September 02, 2010

Forgiveness and Love

In Luke 7 (also in Matthew 26 and Mark 14) there is the story of the immoral woman who anointed Jesus with perfume, washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair.  Now Jesus happend to be at the home of Simon the leper, who was also a Pharisee (key to understanding this story).  What was reported in Matthew and Mark's versions was the response of Jesus to those who were indignant about such expensive perfume being wasted on the feet of Jesus when the poor could have used the money.  In Luke, Jesus responds to the self-righteousness of Simon with the illustration of a parable.  Let's pick up the story in Luke 7:39-48:

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person
this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner,"
And Jesus answered him, "Simon I have something to say to you."
And he replied, "Say it teacher."
"A moneylender had two debtors; 
one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. 
So which of them will love him more?"
Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more."
And He said to himk " You have judged correctly."
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.
You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in,
has not ceased to kiss My feet.  You did not anoint My head with oil,
but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason
I say to you her sins, which are many, have been forgiven,
for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."
Then He said to her, "You sins have been forgiven."

A interesting paradox, in that Simon, who was considered unclean because of his leprosy, was also self-righteous in his Phariseeism.  One who was considered unclean by society and was therefore an outcast,  did not consider himself morally unclean, a sinner in need of forgiveness and cleansing.  Thus his treatment of Jesus, the sin-forgiver, even though He had come into Simon's house in spite of his uncleanness. The immoral woman saw her sin and therefore her need for forgiveness, and notice her treament of the Savior.  Contrast the love they exhibited for Jesus, which was whole point of the parable Jesus gave here. 

Those who see their sin for what it is, those who understand the horribleness of their own moral filth and wickedness appreciate their salvation the most.  Those who don't see their sin for what it is tend to take salvation for granted...almost like it is owed to them, much like Simon.  The immoral woman understood the depth of her sin and understood the corresponding greatness of her salvation.  This was the basis of the depth of her love for her Savior, and why she was willing to humble herself and make a fool of herself in front of others in showing the depth of her love and gratitude.

It is the same for us.  When we understand our sin...our own sin...its despicableness, its stench, its foulness, its abomination to God; then we comprehend the greatness of His love for us in forgiving us and saving us, and our love for Him comes pouring out in return.  When we understand the depth of our sin, we understand the depth of His love and the magnitude of His forgiveness.  Thus the truth, he who has been forgiven much, loves much. 

Is your love for the Savior informed by the knowledge of your sin for which He died?  Do you see your sin for what it is before and just and holy God?  Or have you gotten comfortable with your sin, and therefore blind to it?

Pastors, do you preach about sin to your people?  Do you guide them to see the depth of their sin?  I know its not popular to preach about sin in this age when it is presumed the Church's job is to make people feel better about themselves.  But unless people see themselves as sinners they won't see themselves in need of a Savior.  And unless they see their sin for what it is, their love for the Savior will be cold and shallow.  So we need to preach on sin, not to beat people up, but so the sinner will see their need for salvation; and the saved will see the greatness of their salvation, and bring both to love the Savior all the more.

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