By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
Reading from the Gospel of Luke, 7:36-50
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him — that she is a sinner.” 40Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
She is known now as she was back then — as “a sinful woman.” Yet she dared to make her way to the house of Simon the Pharisee. Maybe she came on impulse, out of a sudden, overwhelming desire to thank Jesus for his love and compassion.
As she left, she grabbed the only thing she had of any value — an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. What else could she give him in return for what he had given her? Maybe she realized — as she got closer — that she hadn’t even thought of what she would do or what she would say when she saw him. If she saw him, if she could get through.
Then again, maybe she had practiced the words over and over, all the way — what she would tell Jesus, if she got a moment to talk to him, before she was pulled away.
The moment came, but the words didn’t. Just tears. Lots and lots of tears. She “began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair.”
Simon wan’t moved by her expression of love and gratitude. Though he said nothing, he judged her in his heart — and judged Jesus for not judging her, too.
Jesus knew. He confronted Simon with a story, a parable about the true nature of gratitude. Those who — in their self-justification and self-righteousness — think they have been forgiven little respond to God with little love.
But those of us who know the true state of our own souls, who acknowledge our sin, our guilt, our shame, who recognize our need for a savior — we know we have been forgiven much. And so we love much.
Let us show him that love today.
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, Th.M., is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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