Behavior of the Forgiven

Imagine that you and I are reclining around a first century dinner table full of bread, soup, and lentils. True to history, we lean on one arm and extend our tired legs. The candlelight reflects warm rays of orange and burgundy as it ricochets off the walls and rugs lining the room. We dine with Pharisees, disciples, sinners, and Jesus.

In the midst of theological discussion and Jewish current events enters a woman simply known as “a sinner” (Luke 7:37). You and I recognize the popular woman; she has developed a reputation for immorality. We exchange surprised glances as she begins to weep uncontrollably. Her emotions overtake her poise and a cascade of water pours onto her Savior’s feet.

Surprisingly, he is not startled or unnerved. He just observes. Everyone begins to feel the awkward tension the woman has created, but Jesus gets comfortable. As he leans, she crumbles under the weight of her emotion and begins to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair. The dinner takes an unexpected turn when she anoints Jesus’ soiled feet with oil.

At this point everyone has stopped eating. The only audible sound is silence. An uncomfortable moment turned sacred. You and I soak up the beauty as sin and forgiveness collide, until we hear a deep, rugged voice trying his best to pair theological accuracy and an encounter with God.

“If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of a woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). Oh, Jesus knew. He knew more than a prophet could forget. He had seen her darkest moments, felt her pain, and would soon bear her embarrassment. He saw her genuine brokenness, her heart transformed by His love. Contrarily, the Pharisee knew rigor, doctrine, and theology, but he lacked divine forgiveness.

Although her example is a portrait of remarkable worship, Jesus uses her display as an opportunity to share God’s grace with the Pharisee. He illustrates by telling of two debtors, one deeper “in the hole” than the other. Both are forgiven, but the one who is forgiven more is the more grateful of the two (Luke 7:41-47).

What’s the takeaway from this dinner? Here’s what struck me: I have been saved, forgiven an enormous debt, but does my relationship with Christ reflect it? Is my love for Christ deep enough to push me to tears of gratitude?

Her example convicts me. Maybe I take my salvation for granted at times. After 18 years of following Christ, my relationship can become stale if I let it. Occasionally, I need to take a page from the immoral woman’s worship manual and thank the One who paid my ransom.

Don’t let your salvation become cheap. Let’s choose thankfulness and joy today because we are recipients of Christ’s saving work on the cross.



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