“Forgiven” and “Loving Much”

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

The story of the sinful woman found in Luke 7 is a fascinating story and may pose some difficulty in understanding it. Jesus was invited by a Pharisee named Simon to dine with him in his house. As Jesus entered the house, the woman came near Him, wept, wiped His feet with her tears, dried His feet with her hair, kissed His feet and then anointed them with ointment. What an extraordinary scene – why would a sinful woman do that?

Perhaps the woman heard about Jesus’ reputation for healing people and performing miracles, including Jesus’ claim to forgive sins. Maybe she heard Jesus during one of His teachings. She probably wanted to change her ways and lifestyle and start a new life. She was perhaps convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah who could transform her life. Her actions were consistent with her desire to seek God and start afresh away from her sinful past.

Jesus contrasted her action to Simon’s non-action. She explicitly showed how much she wanted to repent and change her ways. Although Simon had invited Jesus to dine with him, he did not show any response to Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and performing miracles. Maybe Simon wanted to know more about Jesus but was not ready yet to respond to Jesus, unlike the sinful woman. Then Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

It is clear that Jesus was looking for a response from Simon. Jesus’ life and actions demanded a response from all those who came close to Him. The sinful woman showed us the right response – repentance and love. Her actions were brave and daring, but she did not care what other people said about her, knowing she had a colourful past.

What about us, Jesus’ modern-day disciples? 

How should we respond to Jesus’ love through His death and resurrection? Repentance and love. The key here is to know how sinful and forgiven we are – and how to respond to God with the commensurate love for Him. Yes, we might not be prostitutes like the sinful woman, or murderers, or criminals – but we are liars, adulterers [at heart], gossipers, bigots, cheats, thieves, rebels, etc. We are like those occasionally. And we have special weaknesses to some of them. That is why ongoing repentance is needed. 

Knowing we have been forgiven, our daily lives should be filled with love for God and others in our thoughts and actions. Like the sinful woman, we should love God with boldness and conviction, regardless of what others may say to us or about us.

Simon the Pharisee was indifferent to Jesus. To his credit, he invited Jesus to eat with him – but he stopped there. Like other Pharisees, he possibly thinks he is spiritually okay with God by obeying rituals and other man-made rules. In a way, he is blinded by his “faith.” He knew Jesus, but knowing Him is not enough – we need to respond to Jesus’ teachings, the offer of repentance, and the invitation to follow Him. 

After this event, we never heard what happened to Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman. The point is that those who truly accept Jesus as Lord should be filled with love for God and others. The more we love – including being caring, patient, kind, respectful, forbearing, forgiving, and so on – the more we show how much we understand and appreciate God’s forgiveness to us.

Are we more like Simon the Pharisee or the sinful woman? Are we indifferent to Jesus’ call to us? How much love do we show God and the people God has placed around us in response to God’s limitless forgiveness to us? May we live our lives knowing the depth, height, and breadth of God’s love for us. May we exhibit the love and forgiveness that God has for us by the way we live our lives daily. May we be loyal and brave disciples of Jesus, regardless of the cost it takes to do so. 

Top image credit: Mary Magdalene anointing Jesus feet with expensive ointment, watercolor illustration by James Tissot. Original in the Brooklyn Museum, New York City, USA. Image of artwork in the public domain. Download source at WikimediaCommons

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