In my last post, I started talking about the Pharisee who had a dinner in honor of Jesus. I talked about the background of that event. This Pharisee was healed of leprosy by Jesus, earlier in His ministry. That’s an important point as we look at what happens at the dinner.
As I already said, during the dinner, a “sinful” woman came in, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and anointed them with an expensive perfume. The Pharisee became judgmental.
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.”
This Pharisee is assuming some things. The first is that Jesus thinks the same way he does about people. This is a trap many fall into.
We think that God is like us. We spend so much time trying to get God to agree with us. We want to get God on our side.
This approach never works. Our focus should be to get into agreement with God and to join with Him on His side.
The fact is that Jesus had no problem with this woman worshiping Him. He spent a lot of His time ministering to those that the Pharisees rejected as unworthy people.
I like the way Jesus turned things around. He asked this Pharisee a very leading question.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
He gives this Pharisee a parable of two people in a hopeless, helpless situation. Knowing the whole story, we understand that this religious leader was healed of an incurable disease. He owed a great debt to the Lord that he could never repay.
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Unfortunately, he still doesn’t get the point. The Lord has to tell him plainly what He’s talking about.
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. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Here’s the bottom line. Jesus explains the real foundation for walking in love. This woman could show love in a real way, because she understood the depth of her condition. She received a forgiveness she could have never earned on her own.
The Pharisee saw himself as a good person. He didn’t need much from God. That’s the pitfall of self-righteousness.
If I see myself as better that anyone else, I don’t show much love. It’s only when I come to realize that no matter how good I am, I could never repay the forgiveness I needed from the Lord. The “filthy rags” of my own righteous works could never bring God’s blessing.
Forgiven much or forgiven a little is all a matter of perspective. No matter how good we think we are, we’re helpless and hopeless without the Lord’s grace. Understanding this allows us to love others the way Christ does.
Question: What is God’s forgiveness worth to you?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi