The Love of God Luke 7:36-48
Today’s Scripture passage is one of the clearest pictures of what a relationship with God is like in the Bible. A simple story that has a profound impact.
Verse 36 begins with the setting of this passage where the religious leaders are gathered at Simon the Phariseeís house, reclining around the table.
Then something very odd happens in verse 37, “A woman with a sinful past…”
That’s a euphemism for a woman with a bad reputation. A woman of loose morals and a history of many sexual partners including those who paid her for sex.
So this woman walks into this Pharisee’s home, right through the living room and enters the dining room where the men are gathered and eating and she begins to weep at Jesus’ feel. And when she notices Jesus feet getting wet, she stoops down letting down her hair and kisses his feet. That’s pretty unusual.
Could you imagine if you were leading Bible study in your living room? When the door bell rings and since you are leading the lesson, one of your friends gets up and opens the door. And a woman is standing there with a low cut blouse, a black leather mini-skirt, and fishnet stockings. She walks right into your home, without taking off her high heel shoes and walks right over to you and she begins to weep uncontrollably so that her tears fall onto your feet. She then wipes your feet with her hair and then begins to kiss your feet with her lips. Now what do you think your friends are thinking? How does this sinful woman know you? Why are you letting her touch you in such an intimate way?
Look with me at v. 39 where the Pharisees are thinking, “IF this man were a Prophet…”
How many of you have orthodox Jewish friends? You would know that an orthodox man would not even shake hands with a woman because if she’s recently had her period, she would be ceremonially unclean and by shaking hands with her, he would become ceremonially unclean. And these Pharisees are really saying that Jesus couldn’t be a prophet because heís allowing this sinful woman to touch him.
However, Jesus being Jesus knows what they are thinking and he addresses Simon, probably the leader of this group of religious leaders and he tells him a very simple story that is SO powerful, it’s life transforming for those who hear the words and believe.
The Lord Jesus said, “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender…”
A moneylender was more like a loan shark than a bank and if a moneylender didn’t get his money back, he would sell all your possessions including your spouse and children into servitude until you worked off all your debt. Now one guy owed 50 denarii, which is equivalent to $10,000 and the other $100,000. Both did not have the means to pay back the moneylender, so he cancelled both their debt. Then Jesus asked Simon a very important question, “which of them will love him more?”
And Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt.” (An intellectual response). And Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”
And then v.44 is where Jesus reaches out and draws Simon into the story. He says, “Simon, do you see this woman…”
The Lord Jesus is helping Simon see the condition of his heart through his actions or lack there of especially in comparison to this sinful woman. Simon didnít give common courtesy of providing water for Jesusí feet or a kiss of greeting on the cheek or a drop of oil for his head.
Itís almost like Simon treated Jesus with indifference and expected Jesus to be grateful that he was even invited to Simon’s house.
But this woman could not help but be moved to tears at Jesus feet and pour out her most valued possession, alabaster jar of perfume, onto Jesus feet. In fact she needed the perfume to smell good for her customers, but she was giving it to Jesus.
And verse 47 is the key verse, “Those who are forgiven much love much, but those who are forgiven little love little.” (Repeat)
To the extent of how much you think the Lord has forgiven you is the extent of how much you love Him. Therefore, if your heart is not filled with deep love and gratitude, it reveals that you donít think he has forgiven you of all that much. Oh, you think you are a pretty good person, you go to church, you teach Sunday School, plus youíre not as bad as those “sinners” in the world. But Jesus sees your heart and says that you are further away from God than prostitutes and drug dealers. Who does the New Testament say are further away from God than prostitutes and tax collectors? The religious leaders because their hearts are full of their “good” works and pride. Friends, is your heart full of “good” works and pride. Jesus is reaching out to you right now and drawing you into this story.
However, if you are broken before God and you realize that you are just like this sinful woman, you’ll know that God has forgive you of a lot of sin. Amen?
Do you realize that your spiritual debt to the Lord is not in the thousands of sins, but millions of sins? Do you understand that?
Friends, which person’s actions are most like your own? Are you standoffish and judgmental of others? Oh they don’t wear the right clothes to church or why canít they control their kids better (like me)?
For those of you who grew up in the church, you know all the answers to the Bible study questions, but you don’t have love in your heart for other people and reveals that you don’t really love God, especially not radically love God like this “sinful” woman.
It’s because you think you are a better Christian than most people and that youíre a pretty good person and the Lord hasn’t forgiven you of all that much sin. That’s a LIE!
Friends, when was the last time you wept over your sin or wept over how much sacrificed to forgive you? God did not pay for your sins with gold or silver, but with His own divine blood on the cross. Do you see how much the Lord has forgiven you?
If it has been years since you’ve last wept in worship, itís because you have forgotten God’s GRACE. GRACE is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. The Lord has given you the opposite of what you deserved. He forgave you when He should have condemned you. He loved you when He should have poured out His judgment on you.
The Lord have you the opposite of what you deserved because He received the opposite of what He deserved. He led a perfect life, but He was tortured and put to death for us.
How many of you saw the movie The Passion of the Christ? The physical suffering was terrible, but the spiritual suffering, the wrath He endured was so much worse!
When Jesus hung on the cross, He literally endured the hell that you and I deserved for all of eternity, condensed intensely into a few hours on Good Friday.
Those who are forgiven much, love much, those who think they are forgiven little, love little. Friends, how much do you love the Lord Jesus?
Remember, love is not just a feeling because feelings come and go, but God’s love is a commitment that you are willing to sacrifice whatís most precious to you including alabaster jars of perfume and possibly even your own life for those you love.
And when you experience God’s forgiveness, you can forgive the deep pain that others have caused you. Some of you have been hurt by other people, even those who call themselves Christians, but for you to hold onto your anger or pain is killing your spiritual life. Ask the Lord to help you to grasp more deeply how much He has forgiven you so that you can forgive others.
Also when you grow in God’s love you can grow in loving other people, even those you might have once despised. Many of you have businesses in areas where there are other minorities and it’s easy to judge them and say they are lazy or not hard working, but that’s prideful. God wants to use you to share His love with those of other racial groups, especially those you see on a day to day basis. Godís love makes people who were once enemies and makes them into brothers, that is the power of God’s love. Spend time worshiping Jesus at His feet. Meditate on the cross of Christ and He will warm your heart to love others as He loves you.