In Luke chapter 7, the bible tells us about Jesus attending a dinner in the home of a Pharisee named Simon. Jesus and the other dinner party guests were reclining around the table which meant they were laying on their sides with their heads close to the food and were engaged in conversation while eating. With their feet extended into the larger room, a woman unexpectedly approaches. The woman kneels at Jesus’ feet and begins to weep uncontrollably. The tears fall on Jesus’ feet and so she dries them with her hair. When she finishes, she kisses his feet and pours expensive perfume on them as a statement of her love and gratitude for Christ.
While this is happening, the host of the party and owner of the home is quietly critical of Jesus. He thinks to himself, “If Jesus were a true prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is.” Apparently, the woman had a public reputation of being immoral. Jesus, knowing Simon’s thoughts, tells him a parable about two debtors who were both forgiven their debts by the same moneylender. One debt was much larger than the other debt. Jesus then asks Simon, which of these debtors will love the moneylender the most? Simon correctly answers, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
The Gospel of Luke provides this story to celebrate this woman’s love for Jesus and to celebrate all who are like her. The story illustrates an important point. People, like this woman, who realize that they are forgiven much will in turn love much. In contrast, people, like Simon the Pharisee, who think they have little need for forgiveness, will love little. The point being that the sinful woman is much closer to God’s grace than the righteous Pharisee (or maybe we should say “the self-righteous Pharisee”).
One of my favorite people to have ever known is my friend Billy Rogers. During his young adult years, Billy turned his back on God and lived a life of sin. He was wild, selfish, and rebellious. Billy told me, “If it could be done and it was bad, then I probably did it.” Then one day, somewhat miraculously, Jesus grabs Billy by the heart and he is saved. His conversion to Christ was immediate and radical. The old Billy and the new Billy were like night and day. Everyone noticed.
Now, I only knew the new Billy. And one of the things that I noticed was his overflowing gratitude. In fact, on many occasions, when Billy prayed, there were tearful expressions of gratitude. And after his tears would end, a huge grin would appear. His joy was contagious. His thanksgiving was infectious. His love for Christ was obvious.
The month of November is the month of Thanksgiving. As Christ followers, we have all been forgiven much. So, what will our response be? Will we, like Billy, love much? Will we, like the woman in Luke 7, be willing to express our heartfelt gratitude of love for our Lord?
Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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