SHE LOVED MUCH (Luke 7: 36-50).
I was a sinner. That was what every one called me. I was not permitted to use my name in public. I lived in a man’s world. Women, particularly my kind, were treated with disrespect and ridicule. We were not even regarded as chattel. The streets and dark alleys were our abode. Some more than others would be taken into some home during the night and spend a few hours in a warm bed. In the dark, we could barely make out their faces. In broad daylight, these upright citizens would pass us as if we had never met. These men were the saints and we were the sinners, not by choice but by coercion and necessity. I had to humble myself and submit in order to live. Then, I was not always paid for my service, neither was there anyone to defend or protect me. My kind just had no rights.
One day, I heard about a Man who treated women like me as if they were human beings. I heard that he had rescued one like me from being stoned. The man’s name was Jesus and I became anxious to meet Him. I decided there and then to seek Him out when He would come to our town. I began to prepare myself to meet Him with a special gift. I had saved some very costly ointment for such an occasion and I would give it to Jesus. My wish came through sooner than I expected. One of my rich and respected clients extended an invitation to Jesus to dine with Him. This was just as I hoped for. I knew the layout of the place and the back door to where they would recline and dine. I also knew that my client would not embarrass himself by exposing me or denying me entrance and he could act as if I was one of his servants. But when I entered and threw myself at Jesus’ feet, the host seemed delighted. He smirked and his eyes glared at the scene. In his estimation, Jesus should have known who I was. My makeup and clothes betrayed me. We were not permitted to touch a holy man. At that moment, I could not help myself let my tears wash Jesus’ feet. I wiped them with my hair and pour my ointment on them and kissed them over and over.
Jesus stunned the host by enjoying my outpouring of affection. The host’s face darkened when Jesus looked at me with gentle and forgiving eyes. Mercy radiated from His eyes into my soul. I felt that He was saying, “Keep on loving me, my daughter.” The brief moment felt endless. After a lengthy silence and still allowing me to tender Jesus feet, He told the host that He had something to say to him. The host expected some explanation for Jesus’ but hardly what Jesus had in mind. He said, “Speak teacher speak. ” Simon,” Jesus began, “There were two people that owed money to a borrower, one owed five hundred pounds and the other fifty. The borrowers could not repay the debt and the gracious lender forgave them. Now, which one of the two will love the lender more?” Simon was trapped and had to agree that the larger debtor had to love more. He must have wondered where Jesus was going with the question about loving. Jesus was determined to make me into an object lesson for the host. He continued, “Simon, you are correct. Look at this woman. She did everything that was expected of you. You did not let me cool my feet in water she cooled them with her tears and dried them with her hair. You did not greet me with a kiss and she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not bless me with a little oil on my forehead, but she poured precious ointment all over my feet. Know this, she loves much that is why much is forgiven. You love little and find little forgiveness.”
Jesus did not have to add any more object lessons. It was very clear that it was my love that was more acceptable to Jesus than Simon’s lack of hospitality, regardless of how elaborate it was. His lack of loving people like me and me loving people like him, in spite of what they are would have been reward enough for me. Only, Jesus had much more to say to me and what He said was as refreshing as morning dew. I heard Him clearly say, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you, and go in peace.” His words lifted me off the ground. My heart began to pound. All of a sudden, I felt free like a bird, soaring above my sinful life into a new beginning. In the eyes of Jesus, I was a person of value and had much to offer to others through love. I had become an example for many, how to find forgiveness when we are unable to repay our debt. It was by demonstration how to love someone we do not even know with the very best that is available to us. The more we practice love, the more we shall be forgiven. I also learned that love has no room for sin, only for forgiveness. It was my love that did not fail me, and it was Jesus who helped me understand it.