The Spring of Love
Trinity Covenant Church
“This is a history more to be wept over than commented upon.” --St. Gregory
Introduction: Please read Luke 7:36-40. This anointing of Christ is not the one recorded in the other Gospels. That took place in the last week before the Crucifixion and was an anointing for His burial. This story is about love and took place much earlier.
The facts are simple, and are these:
A Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to dine. Because he had come to seek and to save the lost, Jesus ate with all kinds of sinners--important ones, and common ones. He reached out to all. Why did Simon ask Jesus to dine?
No one can answer that, perhaps. Maybe it was because Jesus was famous--some like to court the famous. Simon did not treat Christ well, did not extend to him common courtesy. Servants would wash the feet of the guests. Lacking servants, the host would do the service. Even a common greeting was denied Christ, for there was no kiss of greeting.
Simon was stiff and cold--lukewarm at best (or worse--a tight thin smile is hardly a comfort!!). Certainly there was no outpouring of enthusiasm and affection for Christ.
During the meal a woman, probably a prostitute, entered. She used great courage to come, for her kind would not have been welcome. Guests reclined with their feet away from the table. As she came to the foot of his couch and anointed his feet with ointment--a hush falls over the meal. Her shadow is upon the gathering. How strange this was to Simon, and perhaps to some of the other guests. Overcome by her emotions, she begins to weep, her tears fall on his feet. Perhaps embarrassed, she tries to wipe them away with her hair.
Watching this, Simon is filled with contempt. “This man is no prophet! If he were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman she is. She is a sinner. Why would he have anything to do with her?”
The Rabbis would have reasoned this way: A good man would have nothing to do with such a woman. Holiness requires separation.
Jesus knows the thoughts of men for He is the eternal wisdom of God and there is no thought at all without Him.
He knows Simon's contemptuous thoughts and speaks, “Simon, I have something to say.”
“Say it,” Simon says carelessly. Jesus then tells the parable of two debtors. It is a simple story about two debts, one insignificant and another so massive that it could not be paid. When they could not pay, the master freely forgave them both. Christ's question was, “Who loved the most?”
Jesus: “The one forgiven much loves much: the one forgiven little loves little.” (The parable is not to be pressed too much; we assume generous-hearted debtors.)
Simon has little love and consideration, because he was forgiven little. The woman had great love and consideration, because she was forgiven a lot.
Why was this woman saved? This woman was not saved because she loved Christ and did these deeds. This is Roman Catholic doctrine. She was saved because she believed. Jesus said, “Her sins are forgiven.” (vs. 48) She came to Christ already in a state of grace. Jesus told her that her salvation is because of her faith only. vs. 50.
The order is important: She did not believe because she loved; she loved because she believed.
What was it this woman believed?
She believed her debt was forgiven: She had heard words like: “Come unto me....” “He that heareth my words, and believeth....” “I am come to seek and save that which was lost.” This was a RELIGIOUS thing she did, not a social thing. She had heard and believed.
Saving faith is not an abstraction. The Gospel is about forgiveness of sins. Christ died for our sins. This fact of history is the heart of the gospel, the good news to sinners.
Offensive to the moralist: he wants to hear about character and good deeds, and high and lofty things. He doesn't want to hear about sin and depravity and inability.
Offensive to the philosopher: he wants to hear about origins, being, nature, and things in themselves.
Offensive to the religionists: he wants to hear how his sect is superior to all the others.
Offensive to the wise, the proud, the lofty, the good: The cross of Christ is ugly, because it says ugly things about us. But the cross of Christ is also beautiful, because it says beautiful things about God.
How beautiful the cross is to faith!!!. She believed her sins were forgiven. This is the joy David spoke of in Psalm 32:5-7.
Forgiveness of Sins is the Spring of Love.
The fountain of love begins here, with the knowledge of sins forgiven. Jesus connects love to the forgiveness of sins: Love for Christ is the consequence of the forgiveness of sins.
Simon was not forgiven--although his sins were great.
Religious sins are often far worse than moral ones: “Publicans and harlots enter the kingdom before you,” Jesus told the Pharisees. But this should not lead the harlot to despise the Pharisee! The heart that is broken with a sense of sin cannot despise anyone. Despising others is the characteristic of those who trust in themselves that they are righteous (Luke 18:9).
Pride is the sin of the Devil. How devilish was that pride—rooted in Simon's heart and filling his whole person! How DARE he despise Jesus Christ! What awful distance there was between him and Jesus Christ! How far he was from the kingdom of God! How blind is pride! The things esteemed by men are so often the most devilish abominations in the eyes of God (Luke 16:15).
Christ very gently reproves Simon. We can learn from this. Jesus came to save all kinds of sinners: Simon, too, would love Christ when he sees the awful muck and mire--the filthy pride and idolatry that is rotting in his own heart. He would view what happened at his feast very differently when the grace of God enters his own heart. Jesus is kind and merciful to Simon and would treat him with the same compassion he showed to the woman if Simon’s heart is opened by the grace of God.
Note: Jesus is NOT saying that Simon hadn't sinned much: he is saying that he hadn't been forgiven much. Paul saw the true nature of spiritual and religious pride, and he didn't call it little in 1Tim. 1:13-15. Paul, too, was a Pharisee like Simon, a proud, arrogant hypocrite who despised others.
Sin is not the spring of love. The source of love is the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is not saying some are worse sinners than others, and therefore have an opportunity to be great lovers of God. We are all foul and filthy in God's eyes. But Christ IS saying that some are forgiven, and they will love God, according to their realization of God's mercy to them. The systematic doctrinal examination of this is in Romans 5:1-8:
Love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that illumines the hearts of the elect with the meaning of the sacrifice of Christ. He teaches us that we are LOVED by God, not as an abstraction of good will (the abomination of the modern age), but concrete, acting, sacrificial love manifested by the death of Jesus Christ. This love is “shed abroad,” and fills our souls.
This is the supernatural, practical result of justification. It is this work of the Holy Spirit that assures us of peace with God and teaches us to endure tribulations and trials. This awareness is not because of our love or because of our works; it is the work of the Holy Ghost sent to us by God who justifies us. This is the well of water that springs up to everlasting life: this is the love that gushes up in the heart, because sins have been forgiven by the death of Jesus Christ and by His resurrection from the dead.
I am loved; God loves me!! The joy that comes from this is expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q58: What comfort do you receive from the article "life everlasting"? A58: That, inasmuch as I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, I shall after this life possess complete blessedness, such as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, therein to praise God forever.
I can never be convinced by logic alone, although a sound mind is the work of the Holy Ghost.
I can never be convinced by my own works alone, though a sanctified life is the work of the Holy Ghost and re-enforces the assurance of faith.
I can never be convinced by men's testimony alone, though men will see my good works and glorify the Father in heaven.
I can only be taught by the Holy Ghost, who illumines me as to the true meaning of the death of Christ and works love in my heart, the fruit of the Spirit. The result is repentance; hope, charity.
In verses 8, 9 of Romans 5 Paul clearly sets forth the true ground of this love: The death of Jesus Christ. We love Him because He first loved us. How did He love us? By dying on the cross for us. God commended His love toward us in that Christ died for us. Did Jesus die for you? Then you will never come into condemnation!!!
Because He loved us, we love Him. You will never love Jesus because you are wise. You will never love Jesus because you are moral. You will never love Jesus because he gives you things. You will love Him when you know Him as the One who died to forgive you yours sins.
This story in Luke is not about sentimentality. Love for Christ is rooted in the forgiveness of sins. In another place (Titus 3:1-7), the Holy Spirit tells us to be good citizens, behave in a moral way, and generally be decent to each other. Why are we to do this? Because He has forgiven our sins. It is not because of our works of righteousness, but because of His mercy and grace. Because he loved us, we are called to love one another, to pattern our love after His: We are freely to forgive one another. We are not to seek revenge, harbor ill will or malice. We are not to seek self-vindication; We have received freely; and are freely to give.
Love is the inevitable fruit of the forgiveness of sins. In a related parable, Jesus told of two debtors.
One owed a huge sum of money. A second man, in turn, owed the first debtor a tiny amount. The first begged his master to forgive the huge debt and was successful in his petition. But he immediately went out and threw his neighbor into prison for the tiny amount that was owed. When the master heard about it, he called the first and reprimanded him for not showing mercy. Unspeakable torments were the punishment. Christ's lesson is clear: the forgiven heart is a forgiving heart. If you have been forgiven much, you will love much, and your neighbor's faults toward you will appear to be small.
May God bless you.
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
web page: http://www.trinityrcus.com