Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lavishly Loving the Lord

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred adenarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward 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 wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

(the account in Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8 is different from this text. The Lukan version involves a different woman, a different place, a different reaction from Jesus, and a different time in Jesus' ministry).

There is an old Puritan saying...."Til sin tastes bitter, grace will not be sweet."

What is the driving force of your life...your dominant life value? We know what the Great Commandment is (loving God with all of our being), but pride (the Great Sin) often derails us throughout the day. The above text stuns and arrests my attention whenever I read it, as I did this morning during my devotional. This is a picture of a woman loving the Lord lavishly.To me, it is one of the most moving narratives in the bible.

The Pharisee did a good and proper thing by inviting Jesus to lunch at his condo. I would like to think that there was at least a kernel of sincerity in this mans invitation, at the very least he was curious. Which is fine.

Enter a woman with a bad reputation, apparently well deserved. The kind of woman that any self-respecting Pharisee would shun. The kind of woman (or man) that most of the religious leaders of Jesus day were too "holy" to allow themselves to be defiled by being touched by her. It is interesting that somehow, I suppose, the host did allow her inside...unless she crashed the party!

Here is the utterly holy and pure God/Man who looked with such tenderness upon this notorious sinner as she began to let her tears roll down her cheeks and onto his feet, dried them with her long locks, kissed his feet, and then poured expensive ointment upon them. I have no words to adequately describe the beauty of this moment....lavishly lovingly the Lord perhaps.The host was scandalized and immediately questioned the integrity/identity of Jesus because He did not kick her away. What a contrast...

Reading his mind and/or grumblings, Jesus asked his host a penetrating question. It had to do with, on a deeper level, that a depth awareness of the ugliness of one's sinfulness will lead to a depth view of the beauty of divine grace."Til sin tastes bitter, grace will not be sweet." This dear woman had her nose rubbed in her sin 24/7, while the Pharisee stood proud by his self-righteousness.If the love of money is a root of many evils, pride is THE root of all sin.It can rear it's ugly head at any time, and take on many different forms.At the base of all sin is pride--which the antithesis of humility.
The Pharisee did not express gratitude to his Guest. Perhaps he thought he had done his good deed for the day merely by inviting Jesus to a meal at his house.

With no concern for proper decorum, she unselfconsciously pours out her love and gratitude profusely in a way that scandalizes everyone but our Lord. In light of this woman's actions, I feel a visceral yearning to do the same. But to do so, I must keep my eyes on the holiness of God, which reminds me of my current sinfulness, and as a consequence, clinging white knuckled to the cross moment by moment. We don't need the gospel only on the day we are saved. We need the gospel today, tomorrow, and throughout eternity.

I yearn....I deeply long to love Jesus as this woman did, but I fall so far short.

 How do we lavishly love a holy God? Be forgiven by Him. Daily and deeply. We daily bring our sins before Him and, with tears in our hearts, pour out our loving gratitude for such an unspeakably beautiful Savior and salvation. And we are quick to ask for forgiveness from each other, starting with our children and/or spouses.

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