Forgiven of Murder
So, how well are you doing in keeping the Ten Commandments? I am certain there won’t be one person reading this blog who hasn’t broken every one of the Ten Commandments, not once, but many times. In fact, I doubt if there is even one reader who has not committed murder, at least once. You may never have shot another person in cold blood, but by Jesus’ standard, you commit murder every time you are angry with your brother without a cause. And if you have never betrayed your spouse outwardly, you are not necessarily off the hook, because according to Jesus, you commit adultery in your heart every time you look lustfully at another woman. The reality is we are a group of murderers, adulterers, liars, haters, and thieves. Our own righteousness is as filthy rags.
What makes people such as we think we have any right to come into the presence of a holy God and stand in the company of holy angels? What makes us feel we are better than any other sinner? We do not deserve to stand in God’s presence one second. The only thing people like we deserve is to be eternally separated from God. And that would be our lot, except for the grace of God! The more we realize this, the greater will be our love and devotion for the One who has forgiven us so much.
While Jesus ate dinner at the home of Simon, a Pharisee, a woman with an alabaster box walked in, fell to her knees and with her hair and tears began to wash Jesus’ feet. Then breaking her alabaster box, she anointed His feet with very expensive perfume, while Simon looked on with disgust that Jesus would permit such a woman to touch Him.
What type of woman was she? Luke describes her as a sinner, a code word for a prostitute, the town’s harlot, no doubt. She was the woman many mothers in town used as an example to warn their daughters about. We don’t know how she came to be a prostitute. Perhaps, she was sexually abused as a child. Perhaps, she is a widow with children and feels this is the only way she can survive. Perhaps, her self image is so ragged after years and years of rejection that she just hates herself and sees this as the only thing that makes her valuable to anybody. We just can’t say, but we should know better than judge her harshly.
She is hated by the wives of her customers; she’s been spat upon; shunned by the best people and used by the worst. Emotionally, she is broken and bleeding. Spiritually, she is wounded. She has failed miserably and is too weak and fragile to pick herself up and move on. Even for her to come to Simon the Pharisee’s house is hard. She knows that Simon will not be happy to see her in his house. She knows how she will be viewed, as a sinner, one who conveys uncleanness by her very touch, almost as if she has a communicable disease. She knows she will be the brunt of nasty jokes and they will want her to leave. But she comes anyway because she knows Jesus will be there.
Why is she so radical in her devotion to Jesus and Simon so indifferent? Why does she worship so passionately, give so sacrificially, humble herself so completely and Simon is so apathetic? Why is she so grateful and he so ungrateful? Or better still, why are we so lukewarm in our commitment to Jesus? Why do we have to be begged to serve him? Why do many of us find it so hard to offer him our alabaster box of perfume?
What made this woman love like this? Jesus tells us. He who is forgiven much loves much. This is Jesus’ answer for why some people are radically devoted to Him and others are lukewarm or cold. It has to do with how much they know they have been forgiven by God. This prostitute had been forgiven much and she knew it!
What we all need is a heightened sense of grace and of how much we have been forgiven. Without it, our relationship with God will be dry like Simon’s and lack all passion. But the more we realize we have been forgiven much, the more like this forgiven prostitute we will become; the more willing we will be to break our alabater boxes; the more ready we will be to fall on our knees and get our hands and our hair wet and dirty for the Lord.
What does a lying, stealing, adulterous, murderer deserve? The same punishment I deserved, and you deserved, but for the mercy of God!
May the Holy Spirit help us to see how totally undeserving we are of mercy and yet how unconditionally loved and accepted we are, so that our love for God might become truly intense.
Prayer: Father I thank you for the blood of Jesus. Because of your love and His sacrifice, I am forgiven of all my sins. Today, you will be merciful to my unrighteousness and all my lawless deeds you will remember no more. You see me as completely righteous and blameless in your sight, not because of what I have done, but because of Jesus. I am grateful that even though I do not deserve it, I am highly favored, greatly blessed, and deeply loved by you. In Jesus Name, Amen!