This week, we will come to a passage in 1 John 4 which calls us to love one another, but it roots this call to love in our being born of God and knowing Him. On Sunday we will dive more into the call to love others, but today let us take a moment to consider our love for God. What does it mean to love Him and what might that love look like? I’m not sure Luke 7 fully answers those questions, but it certainly confronts (and encourages) us in our love for Jesus.
Wednesday, April 29th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Luke 7
Focused Passage for Reflection - Luke 7:36-50
Reflecting on the Text:
How much do you love Jesus? And don’t worry. I’m not simply asking you that question. I’ve asked myself the same as I’ve pondered over this passage. Notice, I didn’t ask whether or not you believed in Jesus. I didn’t ask about your trust in Him. I asked about your love for Him. I pray this question will give you pause, just as it has me. It’s an intimate, personal, even probing question. Usually, those kinds of questions are the ones we don’t ask, but for that very reason, I ask it now.
Maybe it is hard to really be honest with ourselves as we answer about our love for Jesus. Some of us (many of us) have been trained to know the Sunday School answer. We pipe up as we’ve been trained without taking the time to examine our hearts. So, let me ask it another way. How did the woman’s actions strike you? Were they scandalous? Were they over the top? And what do you think your initial reaction might be saying about your heart?
The Pharisee certainly had some thoughts on these questions. I don’t know why the Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner. Any guess would simply be a guess, but the Pharisees often seemed to want to be around Jesus. Regardless of why he invited Jesus, the Pharisee was noteworthy for his comparative lack of hospitality.
For the comparison, we look to the “woman of the city.” She came, uninvited, but she came…because she heard Jesus would be there. And she more than made up for the lack of welcome offered by the Pharisee. This sinful woman, in an over-the-top public display of affection, showered Jesus with her love. Then, in an ultimate act of condescension, the Pharisee labeled the woman as lesser AND he brushed Jesus off for not recognizing it. Of course, he said all of this to himself.
Pointedly, the Pharisee accused Jesus of not being a prophet. While the accusation was only in his thoughts, Jesus responded. He offered a simple parable meant to explain the basis for this woman’s love. She had been forgiven much. She knew it. And her gratefulness oozed out of her. The Pharisee, on the other hand, saw no need for forgiveness and as a result, expressed little to no love.
Through His parable, Jesus taught the teacher, but He did something else for the woman. He made a declaration over her of forgiveness. And in the declaration, He taught me. In verse 47, He declared her sins forgiven, “for she loved much.” Then in v. 50, he said to the woman “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” So which was it? Her love, or her faith? But maybe that question exposes my heart. Why the need to separate? Jesus didn't do so, seemingly saying “your love is the expression of your faith.”
So I go back to my original question. “How much do you/I love Jesus?” It is a question that gives me more pause than I like to admit. How about you? Most of the time, when it comes to Jesus, I think more in terms of faith than I do love. But what does that say about how much I believe I’ve been forgiven?
The sinful woman in Luke 7 stops me in my tracks. I see her love and I want to love that way. I see her sin, and in my better moments, I know mine is the same. I see her Savior, and I rejoice that He is mine. So maybe, in the presence of the Pharisee, it is the woman who teaches best. Let us learn from her how to truly embrace our need for Jesus, and then to fully and finally delight in Him.
Questions for personal reflection:
What gets in the way of you embracing your need for Jesus? Is it the awareness of your sin or the willingness to own it?
What does it mean for you to delight in Jesus? What gets in the way? Could it be lesser loves? Could it be polite manners?
What might repentance look like for you?