“Jesus taught us saying: “It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.” – Luke 7:47
In Luke 7 Jesus finds himself at the home of Simon the Pharisee. Simon had invited Jesus to come to dinner and Jesus graciously accepts. Even though Jesus was not always in agreement with the Pharisees, Jesus understood that the granting of hospitality was just as important as the giving of hospitality. That to graciously accept the hospitality of another was a major component of the command to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not just about giving, it’s also about learning how to graciously accept the love of another on their terms.
While at the dinner an immoral woman of the town hears that Jesus is there so she comes to the dinner as well. The woman is clearly not invited and would have been a distraction as she walks in; but she comes anyway. She swallows her pride and ignores the whispers and rude comments as she walks in. She’s not here to impress anyone; she is here to show love to the one who deserves it. She comes in determined, eyes set on the task at hand, and walks straight to where Jesus is sitting and gets on her knees. With her eyes already filled with tears, she begins to wet Jesus’s feet with her tears and to wipe them with her hair and pour perfume on them. She has to know the whispers are getting louder but she does not care, this act is being done out of love.
We don’t have the full story but at some point this woman must have had an encounter with Jesus. At some point Jesus made an impact on her life that has not been easily forgotten. Maybe Jesus saw her when others would pass her by. Maybe Jesus talked with her and made her feel valuable for the first time in years. We don’t know the story but something has happened that has caused her to know that Jesus will accept her, Jesus will love her. And she does the only thing she knows how to do to thank him; she cleans his feet with her tears and her hair and she anoints his feet with the most expensive perfume she can afford.
Simon, clearly annoyed that this woman has disturbed his dinner party, starts to question Jesus. “If Jesus was really a prophet, he would know not to be around this woman because she is a sinner.” Simon has no love for this woman, he sees her simply as a distraction. A sinner who is not invited to his special banquet. He has no love for her, no room for her in his community. Simon knows he may not be perfect, but at least he’s not like this immoral woman who is clearly full of sin.
At this point Jesus stops the party. He tells a story about a money-lender and some debtors and which debtor is more thankful that the debt is forgiven. And then he makes his point. Yes, this woman is clearly a sinner, but she has been forgiven of much and so she is loving as best she can. But those who think they are pretty good and don’t need much forgiveness, end up loving only a little.
We can claim to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves, but that love won’t be very strong as long as we think we have it all figured out. We will never learn to love with all of our hearts until we recognize the depravity of our own sin. Only when we realize just how much we have to be forgiven of will we really learn to love others.
It’s really easy to look at someone else’s brokenness and rationalize why they don’t deserve love. They’ve done it to themselves. They’ve made their own choices. Yet maybe the reason we don’t want to love is we haven’t fully grasped how much we have to be forgiven of. Maybe we haven’t quite grasped just how big of a sin debt Jesus cancelled for us.
Jesus said, “her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven so she shows great love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”