Forgiveness and Love

website photo 11The Gospel is Good News because He is good.  Jesus turns everything upside down for religious people.  Life for religious people is about being good or at least living the appearance of goodness.  The Gospel isn’t a message of more effort.  It declares what Jesus has already done and made available to all mankind.  It’s this, “all mankind” that gives religious people the rub.  They don’t like the idea of Jesus hanging out with sinners and they figured He should/would hang out with good Christian folk like them, instead.  You know them as people who are good at keeping the rules.  We must NOT forget Jesus was a friend of sinners – the very people the religious try to avoid and have only scorn for.  Jesus meets the sinner at their point of need and offers them grace and reconciliation.  While the religious are prone to judge and condemn, Jesus offers abundant life.  In the Gospel of Luke there is an amazing story of a sinful woman who poured out a costly sacrifice on Jesus.

Luke 7:36-38 “One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.”

It took incredible boldness for her to enter the home of the Pharisee, but she felt it was worth the risk.  She knew there was something completely different about Jesus.  While others were ready to judge and scorn her, Jesus had only compassion and love.  The love and compassion of Jesus provokes sinners to outbursts of love and generosity.  The Pharisees confined their giving to a meticulous tithe.  The tip they gave to God confirmed their hearts had a self-righteous status.  They felt they had no need to do more.  But to the more obvious failures among us, who have discovered the compassion and love of God, only irrational generosity will do.  This sinful woman gave the equivalent of a year’s salary.  It was an act of true worship done from a heart of joy and there was no law that compelled her, only love.

Luke 7:39 “Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

This is quite typical of religious people.  They think the broken and wounded sinners of the world are to be avoided and disdained.  These are the very people Jesus comes to share His love with.  Jesus understood those who knew they were sinners were ready for a Messiah.  The religious and political class was looking for a conquering messiah who would wipe out all of their enemies and preserve their prestige and prominence.  Jesus came to be the sacrificial lamb and take away the sins of the world.  He came to give His life for sinners.

Luke 7:47-48  “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  And he said to her,  “Your sins are forgiven.”

This self-righteous Pharisee just didn’t see his own need.  He was intrigued by Jesus but uncomfortable with His associations.  He loved very little because he saw minor need for forgiveness.  This woman, a reputed sinner, knew she needed forgiveness.  She received the forgiveness Jesus came to offer her and loved Him fully and sacrificially.  The answer to a lack of generosity with God is to see our true condition and realize how deeply we’ve been forgiven and loved by Him.  Please be overwhelmed by His mercy and grace in your life and allow Him to stir up in you irrational generosity.