LUKE alone (7:36-50) records the anointing of our Lord in the house of a Pharisee. This man had perhaps invited Jesus out of curiosity or admiration, and our Lord, who received sinners and ate with them, being a friend of publicans and sinners, accepted the invitation. As He ate, a woman who had been a sinner, doubtless a harlot in the city, came to Him and anointed His feet. She had likely heard Him teach and came in a state of genuine contrition, godly sorrow and repentance. Such a state manifests itself in brokenness. There is much shallow repentance today because men have such a shallow sense of sin.
The Pharisee reasoned within himself that if Jesus were a prophet He would not have allowed such a contact and defilement. But our Lord, reading his thoughts, gave him the parable of the two debtors, one owing five hundred pence and the other fifty. Both were forgiven: now which loved his creditor most? The plain application, as He Himself gave it, was that those who are forgiven most love most; and this woman, being a grievous sinner and realizing it, was full of gratitude because much was forgiven. While all are sinners—and it is not the amount of sins committed that condemns the sinner—yet those who have offended most grievously in degree, though all offend in kind, usually are most grateful. That explains why men converted from terrible careers of vicious sin often are most exuberant in their testimony, and why those saved early and not conscious of years of vile transgression do not generally manifest the same sense of deliverance.
“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” is not to be taken to mean that the woman was forgiven because she loved. She loved much because she was forgiven much. Her love was the expression of gratitude for sins already forgiven. Some think she had already been forgiven before this incident; others, that Jesus, perceiving in her genuine repentance, forgave her at the outset and announced it at the close of the incident.
Our smug and pale Christianity today shows little of that broken and humble gratitude for sins forgiven that marked this woman. Few alabaster boxes are broken in tearful joy over forgiveness. Sin has been glossed over; men do not regard themselves sinners and consequently feel no burden of guilt and, of course, no relief in His pardon. We bring Him verbal tribute, wordy compliments on Sunday, but few kneel weeping at His feet.
“Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” It is faith that saves, so far as our part goes. Of course, Christ the object of our faith, saves us, but faith looks unto Him and appropriates His pardon. And because we are forgiven and saved, we may go in peace—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the peace of God that passeth all understanding.