Forgiven much, loving much

Totally random and unstructured notes and thoughts from last night’s sermon
based on Luke 7:36-50
(if you don’t have a Bible but want to follow the reading, you can find it easily on Bible Gateway.)

Simon, the guy who had invited Jesus to his house, was too proud to see his own need for forgiveness – he sees the woman as clearly unworthy, but fails to realise that, well, so is he, so are we all. The woman was wiser than him – she understood (1) her own need for forgiveness; and (2) what she should do about it, who it is that could help her.

We humanly tend to compare ourselves with others, to look at those people we regard as “obviously really really bad” and comfort ourselves with the thought that we’re not like them. But Jesus set very high standards and showed that from God’s point of view, we’re all in the same boat. Sure, I haven’t committed mass murder, but I’ve done my fair share of behaving selfishly and hurting people, not to mention the thoughts I sometimes think. No, I’m not perfect, I know my need for forgiveness, and I know who to turn to – I know Jesus is the only one who can wipe my sins away, again and again and again.

The parable Jesus tells, about the two men who owed money, was designed to get Simon to realise that we are all in the same boat, that we all owe God a debt which we can’t repay. (see verse 42)

I had wondered before about verse 47 – it can’t be that she’s forgiven because of her love. The translation I’m using (NASB) has it as “… her sins… have been forgiven, for she loved much”, which sounds like her love is the cause, but from the rest of the text it seems obvious that it’s the other way round, her love is a result, a reaction to being forgiven. Our preacher pointed out that in one translation (I’ve found it online, it’s Today’s New International Version) it says “her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown”, which makes a lot more sense. (I also found similar translations in Holman and in New Century Version and New Living Translation.) So the fact that she showed Jesus much love is simply evidence that she had been forgiven much.

Loving Jesus is a natural reaction to being forgiven. Simon couldn’t experience that without letting go of his pride and acknowledging that he wasn’t perfect and that he also needed forgiveness. The woman showed by her behaviour that she loved Jesus – loving him isn’t about having nice gushy feelings, it’s about how we act. (When hearing this I was reminded that Jesus said: if you love me, you will obey my commandments.)

Loving him doesn’t always produce an overtly emotive response – though this woman did show a very emotive response, she cried so much that she was able to use her tears to wash his feet! It’s not always an emotive response, we’re not talking about mushy romantic love, we’re talking about serious commitment, deep loyalty, putting him above everything else, seeking to do what will please him – all as a result of receiving forgiveness, being set free, and therefore feeling grateful.

I have long felt an affinity with that woman. I have also been forgiven much.

2 thoughts on “Forgiven much, loving much

  1. truly, those who have been forgiven much are able to love much in return as well as love much to others. that awareness of just how much we have been forgiven carries itself into our interactions with others who we then realize need just as much forgiveness. we are able to forgive and tolerate and love and understand and welcome because we also have received that. give me a great sinner any day, the forgiveness they have received just spills over in the way they treat others.

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