THE POWER OF LOVE
Lord, thank You for loving us so.
Read LUKE 7:36–50
Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 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.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 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. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
a Luke 7:41 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).
New International Version (NIV)
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“We love because he ﬁrst loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Tradition has it that the woman in today’s reading is a prostitute. Whatever her sin, it is clear that Simon the Pharisee and his friends consider her to be outside the bounds of morality. The Pharisee seems to recognize this woman, so we can assume that her reputation is widely known. His disdain is nothing new to her. She probably experiences hard stares on a daily basis. However, the habitual condemnation does not deter her. Christ’s love achieves something all that ﬁnger-pointing could not: it has turned this woman’s life around.
Her complete transformation is clear from the extent of her gratitude and love for Jesus, which contrasts sharply with how inattentive Simon is to his guest. Try not to sanitize the scene: to get to this banquet Jesus has walked along hot, dusty tracks in very basic, open sandals. Although pictures of this story tend to portray Jesus’ feet as spotlessly sterile, he is human. They are dirty, sweaty, and smelly; yet, this nameless woman places her lips upon them and uses her hair to clean them! Back then it was considered scandalous for a woman to let her hair down in public. But what others think cannot suppress the gratitude that bursts out from within her. So heartfelt is her love for Christ that his approval is all that matters to her.
This woman has clearly grasped Jesus’ good news for her. She loves Christ so much because he has loved her ﬁrst and has reached out to her with forgiveness, despite her sins. This kind of merciful love has incredible power; it convinces and changes people in ways nothing else can. Do we understand the unconditional nature of God’s love for us? Do we customarily pass on that gracious, joy-ﬁlled love to others?
Does the Gospel feel like good news to you? What things stop you from being as excited as this woman about Christ’s love? Ask for a fresh appreciation of God’s grace.
Lord, teach me to ignore outward appearances as I continue to minister to people with the same impartiality that You did.