“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
(Luke 7: 47 NASB)
A sinful woman can teach us a lot about the Kingdom of God. The recognition of our need is the first step toward our entrance into Heaven. If we perceive we need to be forgiven little, we will love little.
A Pharisee invited Jesus to his house for dinner. A woman of ill repute started to weep and wipe his feet with her tears. She anointed him with expensive perfume. The Pharisee was upset that Jesus would let such a sinful woman touch him. In response to this Pharisee, Jesus told him this story.
A man lent money to two men, five hundred pieces of silver to one and fifty to another. When they both were not able to repay him, the man kindly forgave them both. Then Jesus asked the Pharisee, (v.42b) “So which of them will love him more?” The Pharisee answered, (v.43) “I suppose the one who he forgave more.” Jesus replied, “You have judged correctly.” The woman saw her need and was broken by her sin. The Pharisee only saw the woman’s sin and not his own. If we never grasp the depth of our sinful nature, we will never understand the enormity of God’s grace in forgiving us. Whoever sees no need for the cross of Christ, will never embrace it. Recognition of our need for forgiveness is the evidence of a repentant heart. By his attitude, it is apparent that the Pharisee is trying to maintain his right standing with God through his self-righteousness. Pride blinded him to his sin. The woman’s actions indicated she realized that only Jesus could save her. Her reasonable response to this revelation was to love him. And love him, she did.
The woman in our story was closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than the Pharisee in all his religious regalia. In this tale, Jesus was homing in on authentic faith, rather than the external trappings of religion. He paints a word picture of the contrast between a legalistic religious pursuit and a love relationship with our Savior. One of the players in this parable was motivated by love of self and other by the love of God. Fulfilling the law of love through faith saved the woman. The Pharisee met the letter of the law but was far from righteousness. The next time we are tempted to judge someone without first looking at our sin, we should remember, but for the grace of God there go I. Whoever has been forgiven much, loves much.
Images used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing