The Limitation of My Love

A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee’s home and got ready to eat. When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner.”

Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Teacher, what is it?” Simon replied.

Jesus told him, “Two people were in debt to a moneylender. One of them owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. Since neither of them could pay him back, the moneylender said that they didn’t have to pay him anything. Which one of them will like him more?”

Simon answered, “I suppose it would be the one who had owed more and didn’t have to pay it back.”

“You are right,” Jesus said.

He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn’t give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t even pour olive oil on my head, but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.”       Luke 7:36-47 (CEV)

Today was a time when God wanted me to read the whole story and I wanted you to have the same experience!

I have read this story many times. Besides Jesus there are two other main characters for me to learn some lessons.

Many believe the woman was a prostitute. Was she one of the women who later followed Jesus and then His disciples? Was she present on the day of Pentecost? We don’t know that on this side of heaven. We do know that she was forever changed. She was a sinner that was well known in this community. Simon was very clear that he knew the important gossip about her. She would not have been invited to this dinner party. She crashed the dinner. She carried an expensive jar of perfume. And then she just stood there, crying. She cried so much that her tears wet Jesus’ feet and she wiped the tears (along with dirt!) away with her hair. And kissed Jesus’ feet, then poured expensive perfume on them. Without saying a word. Just crying.

Simon, a Pharisee, had invited Jesus to dinner. Maybe he was part of a scheme to set Jesus up. Maybe he wanted to find out about Jesus for himself. He found out quickly that this Nazarene could read his mind and knew what was in his heart! If Simon was skilled in the Law like a ‘good Pharisee’, he found himself becoming the student. Jesus told him a parable about those who owe debts to the master. Notice when Jesus asks him who would be more grateful for the forgiveness of the debt that Simon speaks the obvious answer grudgingly. And then Jesus takes Simon to task for all the ways that he had disrespected Him by not extending to Him what were ‘common courtesies’ of that day.

Why would Simon treat Jesus that way? Maybe because he did not want to seem too friendly. If any of the other Pharisees were present or had some spies present, they would report that Simon was certainly not gracious to this rabble-rouser named, Jesus.

Jesus tells Simon and me that this woman loved much so she did not care what the Pharisees or anyone else thought. Her worship and thankfulness may have been untraditional and offensive to the church leadership of the day but her heart was focused on Jesus with thankfulness and praise. To Jesus, that was all that mattered! Whose opinion matters to me? Is my worship (Romans 12:1-2) reflective of my love and gratitude for all that Jesus is to me? Would my tears wash His feet and my lips kiss His feet?

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