When We No Longer Think We Need Forgiveness
Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
The woman, who was probably a prostitute, had made her way to the banquet table. Here Jesus was reclining, enjoying a meal following the gathering at the synagogue. She came to him and anointed his feet with the perfume in her alabaster jar. She bathed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Simon, the Pharisee and master of the household was appalled. Why would this woman react in this way, and surely, if Jesus were a prophet he would have known what kind of a woman she was and would have stopped her before things had gone this far!
Love follows forgiveness. The woman felt a great need for forgiveness from Jesus. Her humble act came from the desire to reach out and touch him, and to be forgiven by him. In that very moment, the great need of forgiveness was replaced by love. It is only those who recognize the depths of their sin who can experience and appreciate the complete forgiveness that is offered in Christ.
Simon, the master of the home was appalled and couldn’t understand the depths of the woman’s love. He thought so highly of himself that he could never humble himself to ask Jesus for forgiveness. Jesus explained, “the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Simon would love little because he would never accept the depths of his own sin. He didn’t think that he needed to be forgiven.
Society has essentially determined the codes of moral behavior. People are dependent on society providing for their personal needs. Many people live good and decent lives and ultimately see no need for God in their lives. This is increasingly true as we believe that we can be self-sufficient. I believe that this may be the case when it comes to the majority of Anglos in North America today. I would argue that an attitude is developing both inside and outside of the church that we no longer feel that we need forgiveness. The result is that we no longer experience God’s love. If we don’t believe that we need God’s forgiveness in our lives, there will be no space to be filled with his love.
On the other hand there is shift that is occurring in Christianity, and one that I believe will continue to occur and this is the influence of the immigrant population. In a 2004 study from Pepperdine University you find that there is a shift in attitudes in congregations. “In them [the foreign-born congregants] I see more dedication and a real reverence for God because of their tradition, and they show more seriousness about evangelism and outreach in support of other people than those born here.” Pastor John Saenz That quote sounds a bit like what Jesus said above. The woman who sensed a great need for forgiveness loved much.
If we find that we are in the place of Simon the Pharisee, then maybe we need to step back and examine ourselves. In reality we do not have to live a wild life of sin to experience the overwhelming love of God. Nicodemus, also a religious leader recognized his intense need for Christ and humbled himself, coming to Jesus and learning about God’s great love for the world. Pride and a lack of humility may be barriers to experiencing God’s love in our lives. When individuals and society as a whole no longer believe that they need God they will suffer from a lack of his loving and holy presence.
Lord, may I recognize my need of you every single day! Amen.