An Audacious Act of Love

Bible Reading: Luke 7:36-50

The problem with mere religion is it has no life to it.  It can be cold, hard, loveless and lifeless.  Religions say “do this” and “don’t do that,” supposing to somehow bestow benefit to the lives of its adherents.  But “dos” and “don’ts” are no substitute for the love and forgiveness bound up in the heart of Jesus and imparted to those who trust in Him.

Simon was a Pharisee.  His everyday routine was governed by countless “do’s” and “don’ts” which were deemed essential to his self-righteous esteem.  He invited Jesus to his home for dinner.  We are not given the reason. Perhaps he was curious about Jesus, but whatever the reason, the dinner was soon disrupted in dramatic fashion.

A “woman of the city, who was a sinner” entered the home (Luke 7:37).  According to Luke’s account, she was an immoral woman.  That Simon knew of her reputation, “what sort of woman” she was, would indicate some public sin (Luke 7:39).  Perhaps she was a prostitute.  To enter that Pharisee’s home was an incredibly bold venture.  What caused her to do it?  In the chronology of events, Jesus had previously invited “all who labor and are heavy laden” to come to Him (Matthew 11:28).  Perhaps she came looking for Jesus, yearning for the “soul rest” He had promised?

So the woman entered the house.  Jesus was reclining at the table.  She came up behind Him and did all that she could in expressing her love for Jesus.  She had brought an “alabaster flask of ointment” (Luke 7:37).  She was weeping and “began to wet his feet with her tears.”  She wiped His feet with the hair of her head and anointed them with that rare and expensive perfume (Luke 7:38).  It was a bold public display of extravagant devotion!  She was taking a tremendous risk of rejection and humiliation, if Jesus had refused to have anything to do with her.

Simon was disturbed by what he saw.  “Didn’t Jesus know ‘what sort of woman’ she was?” he thought.  But Jesus discerned his thoughts and used the opportunity to explain, with a parable, important truths to a man who was religiously wise, but spiritually stupid.  He said, “A certain moneylender had two debtors.  One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both.  Now which one of them will love him more” (Luke 7:41-42)?

We are all sin-debtors to God.  Religion falsely supposes the debt can be somehow worked out through religious self-effort and good deeds.  Simon was a religious man, yet he had never experienced God’s forgiveness.  He saw no need for it.  His religious life had no “vertical” to it.  His religiosity was a cold, hard and lifeless thing and he was ignorant of matters pertaining to grace and love. He invited Jesus to his home, yet his invitation was not marked by love.  He gave no kiss, washed no feet and offered no anointing.  In his religious economy, the sinful woman’s only worth was to prop up his own religious prestige.

Yet the sinful woman found a friend in the “Friend of Sinners.”  No sin debt can exceed His capacity to forgive.  His forgiveness worked a change in her, removing her burden of guilt and setting her free in remarkable fashion.  She loved much because she had been much forgiven, and in that she possessed something far greater than Simon’s dead and heartless religion.  One by one God’s much-forgiven saints file into church on any given Sunday, like alabaster flasks, created anew in Christ and filled up to overflowing with His love.  He has filled them so they might be poured out as He was–as she did–in loving others in Jesus’s name.  In audaciously loving Jesus, the much forgiven woman has set a good example for us all!

“It matters how we look at people.  Simon only saw the woman as a despicable sinner, beneath his regard or concern.  But Jesus saw her as someone longing for His love and forgiveness.”  

Jerry Conklin


One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn
And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a pris’ner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee

Lord You were God’s precious treasure
His loved and His own perfect Son
Sent here to show me
The love of the Father
Just for love it was done
And though You were perfect and holy
You gave up Yourself willingly
You spared no expense for my pardon
You were used up and wasted for me

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of me Jesus
God’s most precious treasure
Lavished on me
You were broken and spilled out
And poured at my feet
In sweet abandon Lord
You were spilled out and used up for Me
In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee

Songwriters: Bill George / Gloria Gaither
Broken and Spilled Out lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group, Capitol CMG Publishing

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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