She Loved Much1
36One 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 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, 38and 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.
We are not informed how she came to know and love the Savior. It may be that some gracious word of his had stopped her from her life of sin and shame, a life of misery and despair that was rushing to its end. She was filled with deep repentance. Moved with holy reverence for the Lord, she brought the greatest treasure she owned and used it all for him. Not wanting to call attention to herself, she stood behind him, washing his feet in her humility, weeping in sorrow over her sins, kissing his feet for love, and using her hair as a towel. All of this was done out of supreme devotion to her Lord, to who she owed everything. Happy the woman who is able to show her dedicated devotion to her Lord.
39Now 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.”
This Pharisee had not shown our Lord the respect he should have and now his opinion of him drops even more. He could not believe that any good man would allow a woman like this to come so near to him. Simon did not understand Jesus, but Jesus understood Simon well enough, and therefore he spoke to him.
40And 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 denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more”? 43Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then 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. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss 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 are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Self-righteous people can never serve like those who serve out of love. They do their duty because they feel forced to, rather than with the zest and delight of those who serve out of true affection. The attempt to save ourselves by our own merits never brings out the heartfelt emotion and complete devotion that grows from a sense of grace received and sin pardoned. In our own case, do we not have reasons to love the Lord intensely? He who writes these words feels that above all men, he is obligated to love his forgiving Master. Do not others feel the same?
48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Her act of love to Jesus was rewarded with a fresh expression of his love for her, another assurance of forgiveness. Gratitude for previous favors is the sure way to receive more.) 49Then those who were at 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.” (He did not bother to rebuke the disrespectful murmurers. But he did continue to comfort the loving repentant sinner. He honored her faith and assured her that his peace went with her on her way, because he did not wish her to be disturbed by the cruel words spoken by others.)
From this story we should learn how delighted Jesus is to forgive great sinners, since they bring him great love in return. Also, see how free his mercy is, since he clearly forgives those who have nothing to pay.
1 Luke 7:47