Pondering from Luke 7:36-50
Today’s story is a familiar one. It’s about the sinful woman who wipes, kisses, and anoints Jesus’ feet during Simon the Pharisees’ dinner party. Simon has invited all of his Pharisee friends over to eat with The Teacher. It’s supposed to be a nice night, but a sinful woman who disgusts him comes in, and Jesus does not ask her to leave.
When Simon reacts negatively to this, Jesus responds with a parable whose moral is that “those who are forgiven much love much.” Furthermore, Jesus restores this woman to community when he says, “Your sins are forgiven… go into peace.”
One theologian remarks, “The forgiveness is not a result of [her] acts; rather, [her] acts testify to love’s presence in gratitude for the previous granting of forgiveness.” (Bock, 703)
I love this picture of her: she’s weeping like a rainstorm, then wiping her tears with her long hair (hair down is a major no-no in these days), then kissing – feet, Jesus’ feet – over and over again. Finally, she breaks out the expensive bottle of perfume and anoints his feet.
The others must have felt awkward. Wild love for Jesus makes us nervous.
I relate with this sinful woman. In many ways, her story is mine. I grew up a pagan in an abusive home. I made bad choices and was a train wreck waiting to happen.
Unbelievably, in the middle of my pagan life – in the middle of sex, drugs, and rock n roll, God reached down out of heaven into the sewer and pulled me out. God did not wait for me to straighten out before he saved me; God saved me while I was in the middle of my sin.
And after he saved me, slowly, over years of hanging with Jesus in his Word, I became healed and whole. For the first ten years of my new life with God, I would frequently sit and sob over my salvation. I just couldn’t believe that God would save me.
Sometime after I became whole, I lost my memory. With memory loss comes love loss. Our being wildly in love with Jesus is directly tied to our exact understanding of our desperate need for him. Every once in a while I need to be reminded just how far Jesus was willing to go to save me.
What about you? How’s your love life? How long has it been since you’ve stood before our Holy God and remembered who you are in light of who he is? How long has it been since you’ve cried over your salvation?
Irwin McManus, in his book, The Barbarian Way, makes this comment, “I’m happy to say that while Jesus can wonderfully make you healthy, He has no ambition to make you normal. The healthier you become, the freer you are to simply be yourself. The more your identity is rooted in God’s value for you, the less you are controlled and limited by what others think of you. If only fools fall in love and people who are in love act like fools, then those who are changed by God’s love really do become fools for Christ.” (McManus, 70)