There is something scandalous about the gospel. When Jesus shows up on the scene, forgiving sins, men and women began to ask questions. “Who is this man?” “Only God can forgive sins.” Etc. All this hysteria is due to the fact that God stepped down out of heaven to put on human flesh and dwell among us in the form of God the Son. In this act of humility, Jesus shows us the Father (John 14.9), that is, Jesus is showing us what God is like. However, a God as gracious as God the Father…that did not sit well with the audience of Jesus and does not sit well with some in our the Lord’s body today. And I think the key is the words of Jesus found in this passage of Scripture in Luke 7.36-50.
A Sinner’s Sorrow
It is easy to see the heavy burden of this wretched sinner who had lived a profligate life. Even those seated at the table knew “what kind of woman she was.” It obvious to everyone that this was a sinful woman. And Jesus does not gloss over the utter sinfulness of this woman. In verse 47, he says here sins are “many.” However, this woman demonstrates the kind of attitude every lost and saved person should have when they see their own sinfulness. We are utterly wicked, undeserving of the presence of God in our lives. And it is this kind of attitude that should breed what Paul calls “godly sorrow” which brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Cor 7.10).
If only we could bathe the Lord’s feet with our tears over our sinfulness. How often have we broken the Lord’s heart by committing some evil deed? Unfortunately, too many live out their Christian life like the Pharisee, looking down their self-righteous noses at the “sinner” who adores the feet of the Savior. The fragrance of adoration was not the perfume in the alabaster jar; the fragrance of adoration was the salty smell of tears. It was the smell of dirty hair after wiping off the feet of the Master, deemed foul by our tears spilt on them. It is the smell of a thousand kisses pressed upon the feet of the incarnate God. And now the story becomes even more scandalous.
The Savior’s Story
Jesus relates a parable to Peter. Why Peter? I am not certain. Perhaps the Lord had seen the self-righteous attitude withi Peter and needed to squelch that. But Jesus might as well be speaking the parable to us. Are we asking him, as Peter, to speak? Or are we turning a deaf ear to it?
Jesus tells a parable about the two men who owe certain amounts to a creditor. One owes 500 days’ wages, the other 50. Both are forgiven their debts (see Matt 6.12). Who loves the creditor more? Peter answers correctly that is the one who is forgive of more.
The Savior’s Salute
Jesus then address the main issue. It is curious that Jesus speaks to Peter throughout this entire episode and not the man who had the problem in the first place, the Pharisee. But in reality, Jesus is addressing eveyr person in that house for their attitude within their hearts. Nevertheless, Jesus explains that the actions of this woman demonstrate something that perhaps these people could not grasp. Her sins were heaped up to the heavens; the crowds’ (Peter’s?), in their own eyes, not so. But Jesus is looking through the eyes of deity and sees all men separated from the Father because of sin. Be it one sin or many sins, all are in need of the forgiveness Jesus offers.
But what is proper response of a sinner who is forgiven? Too often many people demonstrate a love for God that is too little. It is often those who have been forgiven of many sins who appreciate and adore the Savior as they should. The fragrance of adoration hangs heavily around them and dispates into the air through their actions. Everyone around them can smell the fragrance of adoration. On the opposite end of this are those who may smell a little like adoration, but it is not as heavy. Maybe now and again the scent goes out from them, but overall there really is not the kind of scent that ought to come from a saved individual.
Another dangerous position to be in is a person wrapped up in legalistic tendencies which is where the Pharisee was perhaps coming from. There is no scent of adoration coming off of this person for there is nothing to adore God about. The salvation of the Lord has been replaced by self-effort and commandment keeping, which ultimately leads to to death.
A Sinner’s Salvation
When you are forgiven of any sin at all, love for God out to fill you and overflow into your life. That is what we are driving at. Everyone needs to acknowledge that they ave sin that is so great and so terrible that it has marred our divine iimage and disrupted our fellowship with God. Hence, when that great debt of sin is removed and forgiven, we can stand in the presence of God and adore him by bowing down and kissing his nail scarred feet. We put our trust and faith in God to do what he has said he will do and that is forgive us of all wrong and save us from sin. We, like this woman, can “go in peace.”
The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Every single person is in need of the salvation offered by God’s Son. We should be careful never to develop an attitude of self-righteousness by looking down our noses at the people who are “worse” than us. In God’s sight, your sin is just as bad as any drug addict, alcoholic, wife-beater, petty thief, liar, or gossip because all these sins break fellowship with God. They are sin! But also, let us be instruments for spreading the fragance of adoration to God for the forgiveness of our great debt we could never pay. Let others catch the scent we carry so that they can too can find forgiveness for their sin as well.