Up From the Well of Forgiveness

“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. A woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was [there].., brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 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. When the Pharisee 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.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Simon,..

“’A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ And he said to him, ‘You have judged rightly… 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. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” Luke 7:36-48

Jesus expressed His love for the world in a myriad of ways over His short ministry on earth, and used every opportunity to illustrate and correct thinking about it. Simon the Pharisee was so taken up with his own righteousness and abhorrence of the filthy woman that he neglected to honor his guest. Jesus his guest, always redeeming the time, would turn the awkward moment to teach about love. (Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5)

Christ’s love is tied to forgiveness, so it is often displayed in ways we dismiss, disdain, or don’t understand. Our flesh can be repulsed by the dirty, unlovely, or crude, and calloused by wrongs done to us, and so fail to recognize that Jesus came for sinners, and we too are filthy renegades before a holy Savior. We measure love by feelings, and center it around ourselves. But His is so much higher and broader and reaches so much deeper that it takes great knowing of Him and ourselves to grasp it. (Psalm 103:11-12; Ephesians 3:17-19)

When we accept that His amazing love broke through our sin to save us from its curse, we are freed to love others in the grace we’ve received. We may then express it in varied ways: through a spoken word, or a caustic word held back; a gentle touch, or a firm press of discipline; stored up patience, or poured out ointment. We’ve learned that we love because Jesus first loved us, and calls us to follow in His steps. From the well of forgiveness, how will we love another today? (John 13:15; 1 John 4:10,19)

Lord, may I lavish the love You’ve poured on and into me on all around me, in Your name and to Your glory.

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