Saturday, September 13, 2008

He who is forgiven much loves much

I'd like to sound completely original, but the truth is that one of my favorite stories in the gospels is one that Jesus himself said would be told whereever the gospel is preached... that is the story of "the woman with the alabaster box".

For those who may not know the story, it goes like this: Jesus was having dinner with a bunch of his disciples, when a woman-- who had quite a 'reputation' as a sinner-- came in with an alabaster box full of precious fragrant oils, broke the box open and poured the oils over Jesus' head, then as her tears fell on his feet she bent down and dried his feet with her hair.

In those days, one of the currencies of the day was precious oils. This alabaster box was basically the woman's life savings. It was everything she had.

So... here comes this woman, the biblical equivalent of a crack whore, who didn't have a lot but when she somehow heard that there was a hope of forgiveness for all those mistakes she had made, all the wrong choices, all the sin, all the junk... she came and brought everything she had with her. She recklessly poured out all she had in the hope that even she could find peace. She wept in His presence, then embarrassed by getting Him wet she used the only thing she had to dry Him.

All the people around-- the "good Christians"-- ridiculed her and tried to protect Jesus from "the likes of her". They just knew that if Jesus knew just what kind of person she was, He wouldn't want to have His name sullied by association with that type of person.

And in the middle of this situation, Jesus makes one of the most beautiful statements of grace and forgiveness found anywhere in scripture. A statement that actually brings tears to my eyes even now as I think of it.

Jesus looks at this woman, the one that everyone else viewed with disdain, and says:

" Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved
much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

But before making that statement, Jesus actually stops to tell a parable. Summarized, that parable asks who will love more, the person who owes $50 dollars and has the debt forgiven or the person who owes $500 and has the debt forgiven?

Jesus went on to say that this story would be told whereever the gospel is preached. Think of that... the only passage we find in scripture that we are specifically advised will be told everywhere the gospel goes is that of this woman. The one story that will be told everywhere is one the says where there is greater debt, there is greater forgivenness...

And the one story that goes out is that those who have to be forgiven more are not "lesser" Christians ... but actually greater in their love for our Savior.

He who is forgiven much loves much.

And can you imagine what it must have been like after? For days, everywhere Jesus went all those around Him would have smelled the beautiful aroma of those precious oils. The perfume of forgiveness surrounded Him...the fragrance of grace reaching out to all those still searching...

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