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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

August 28, 2015

Do we love little or much?

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

In Luke's gospel we find the story of a woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears as he sat as an inivted guest in a Pharisee's home. Then she dried His feet with her hair and anointed them with expensive oil (Luke 7:36-38).

What did the Pharisee think about this? "Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner" (verse 39). "Sinner" probably means a prostitute, as at least one modern translation renders it.

The Pharisee unknowingly confirmed what Jesus was – a prophet –, because Jesus knew exactly what this woman was. Jesus also knew what the Pharisee was thinking, so He asked him a question:

"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more? Simon [the Pharisee] answered and said, I suppose the one whom he forgave more. And He said to him, You have rightly judged" (verses 41-43).

Jesus explained that the woman had done something for Him that the Pharisee had not done: "I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil" (verses 44-46). (Offering a guest some water to wash the dust from his feet was a sign of courtesy in the culture of time.).

Without mentioning the Pharisee by name, Jesus highlighted the contrast between him and the woman: "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (Luke 7:47).

Surely the Pharisee had not committed the sins that the woman had. And there are such differences among people, because Jesus said Himself that it will be more tolerable for some in the judgment. Sins leaves scars, and some people have more scars than others.

But all people have incurred the same debt with their sins, whether few or many. With their sins they made the death of their Saviour necessary. All are guilty of His death. And it this awareness of our personal responsibility that is important and not whether we have sinned more or less than our neighbor.

We cann all "love much" if our awareness of personal responsibility for sin is directed to Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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