I wonder sometimes if we really understand or remember how great the forgiveness of God is in our lives. If we’re Christians, then surely we’re aware of how great God is and how grave and serious even a single sin against the Almighty and Holy One is. Surely we’re aware of the many times we have sinned against our Lord either by doing what displeases Him or not doing what does please Him.
Yet the tragedy of this life is that even the most beautiful things can become ordinary and unremarkable over prolonged exposure to them. So I wonder how well we remember the magnitude of our sins before the Lord and the magnitude of His forgiveness and mercy.
This woman, this notorious sinner in Luke 7, teaches us even today, not so much about the magnitude of our sins (although we do know she was a prostitute) but about the mercy of God and the response of a forgiven soul. What was the response of this woman to the forgiveness of her sins? That’s what I want to pay attention to today.
I find it interesting that one of the best teachers in the Bible about how we should come before the Lord who has mercifully forgiven us for our many sins is not only a prostitute but also teaches us through pantomime. This woman who teaches us so powerfully today teaches us without saying a word, for she allows the Word of God to speak through her.
What do we find is the response of the one whose response was so highly favored by the Lord? She brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, stood at Jesus’ feet, wept before Him, washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed His feet, and anointed them with oil.
Kissed His feet? Ooohh!
Somehow when I read and picture the response of this woman, I suddenly feel very much like Simon the Pharisee. How often is our response to the Lord in our presence like this woman’s and how often more like Simon’s. We may not actively rebuke the Lord, but doesn’t He often come into our lives, and we give Him no water, no kiss, and refuse to anoint His head.
This woman’s actions are a measure of her love for the Lord who forgave her for her sins. How much do you love God? How thankful are you for His merciful forgiveness to you? I suppose that if Jesus Christ were here, right in front of you, in the body that you might rush to bring Him a costly gift and weep before Him and wash His feet and kiss them and anoint Him with oil.
And yet I tell you that the Body of Christ is here before you. How have you received Him? The physical body of Jesus of Nazareth is not in your house, I’m sure. And yet the Body of Jesus Christ, His Church, is very much in your life. How have you received Him through it?
We ask, “Lord, when did you come and visit me and I didn’t bring you my best gifts and weep before You and wash Your feet and kiss them and anoint Your head?” And He will say, “I came to you every Lord’s Day and gave You myself to eat and drink. I came every day of the week in the lives of the saints, and instead of getting your treasury of alabaster and oil you hoarded my good gifts for yourselves. You saw Me forgive your sins and those of others, you heard Me proclaim the Good News, you saw Me teach Your children, and you sat at My feet hearing My Word. You spent lavishly on your own house, and yet you allowed the house of the Lord to fall into disrepair.”
“I called you to anoint My feet, I called you to become a blessed foot who took My Good News to the people I put in your life, and you would not speak. You would not anoint or kiss my feet because they were beneath you and you thought of them as something repulsive. You talked to your neighbors of sports and food and cars and home décor and politics, but you would not speak to them of Me. You would not anoint My feet.”
“I called you to weep and wail and confess your sins to me every day at home and every week in My house, and you merely mouthed the words. Not only did I enter into your house, and you did not greet me and make your house Mine, but you entered into My house and did not come with humility and tears, ready to anoint My head with your sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”
Imagine that Jesus Christ has just come into your life. Imagine that He has just forgiven you your sins. What will your response be? These are not things we should have to work hard to imagine, for they are the ultimate realities of our lives.
Jesus Christ comes to you in the form of His Body, His saints. Whatever you do to even the least of them, you have done to Jesus Christ. Sometimes we forget the many opportunities we have each day to show our love for our merciful Lord simply by serving those He has put in our lives today.
If you have children in your house, they are an obvious place to start. What about your spouse or geographical neighbors? Surely there are brothers and sisters in the Lord in your local church to whom you can minister in some capacity.
If you love the Lord and have received His forgiveness and want to anoint His head and feet to show Him your love, go out and find Him today in His Body. For what you do to the least in His kingdom, you have done to Him. Whatever you do to those in the Body of Christ, do it with the utter delight and joy and thanks with which the woman in Luke 7 must have anointed Jesus.
Resolution: I resolve to find one practical way that I can wash the saints’ feet today, and in so doing wash the feet of my Lord.
Prayer: Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter my house, and I am not worthy to come to You. Yet since You have come to me anyway, with forgiveness in Your hands, I receive Your forgiveness with joy and thanksgiving. Increase my love for You, and encourage me to anoint Your head and feet by loving your saints today. Amen.
Point for Meditation: How much do you really believe that Jesus Christ comes to you through the people He puts in your life? What might you do to practice seeing Him and finding ways to love Him by loving those He puts in your life?
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day