Bible study this week took me to Luke chapter 7 verses 36-50. This is the portion of scripture where Simon invites Jesus over for dinner and the woman with the alabaster jar comes and publicly anoints Jesus' feet with her hair, tears and kisses. While Jesus is receiving this act of worship he makes a teaching moment with Simon. I've never really liked this passage because I identify more with Simon than the woman in the scene and that makes me very uncomfortable with myself.
Scripture doesn't tell us Simon's motives for having Jesus over for supper, but we do know that he was a Pharisee and that carries much definition on its own. And given the ritualistic and perfect performance the Pharisees kept, it is interesting to note all the things Simon didn't do when Jesus got there.
As they were eating, the woman comes in and makes quite a public display of affection. Oddly enough the love that motivated this act is not what upsets Simon, but rather the reputation and character of the woman is what rattles him most. He is not upset over this display so much as that "a sinner" would touch Jesus.
I love that we don't read Jesus' tone to be an angry one. It could be that Simon's thoughts were simply what he had been taught and had never ventured away from, something Jesus has grace for. We see Jesus teach in his usual pattern of a gentle parable and leading questions. A good coach always asks the right questions that will lead you to discover the answer yourself. Jesus leads Simon to a place where he could begin to look past a person's issues and see their heart. A heart that loves much and a heart that loves little. "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little," he says. Then he speaks to the woman and tells her "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace." In the camera view of this in my mind, I see Simon sit back and take it all in and I wonder, did he get it?
As one who knows all too well a Pharisee's heart, it completely unnerves me to think that I might be one who Jesus considers "loves little."
I wrestled this out with Jesus hard. Thank you Lord for my upbringing and your hand of protection and provision over and on my life. Thank you Jesus that my testimony is not one I will be embarrassed to tells my kids about someday. Thank you God for the blessing of a family who lead me to you early in life and a church body that kept me busy enough to not get in difficult trouble. You put people in my life that steered me well and lead me rightly, it has shaped me into who I am today!
But does all that mean I love you little?
Have there been times I've entertained you and neglected to worship you? Have I gained your gracious attention forgetting to honor you with all I have? Have I been in your presence and considered myself....anything other than "a sinner?"
A brokenness comes over me as I repent and confess my arrogance and unworthy heart. Why are you so patient with me Lord? So gentle when you coach me to see me for who I really am? So gracious as you open my eyes to see you for who you really are?
Through my tears his tender voice responds, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you, go in peace." And in this moment he shows me I have moved from identifying with Simon the self righteous to this unnamed woman, the worshiping sinner. No longer to love little, but to go in peace and to love much.
Father, in the upbringing you allowed, somehow I picked up wrong theories and warped theologies. Sometimes it's so hard to look past a person's issues and look to their heart, my own included. Transform my eyes Lord to see how you see. Your kindness changes everything. I don't ever want to gain your attention again without giving you my all. May all of my days be a continual act of worship that shows you how much I love you. Your love is better than life!