Juxtaposition. I am no English major, but that’s what I think the literary device being used in Luke 7 is . . . juxtaposition. One person is placed up against another for the purpose of comparison and contrast. One set of actions are detailed against another set of actions in order to highlight their significance. In this morning’s reading, one response to Jesus is placed beside another in order to provide a mirror into the hearts of those forgiven. Let the “juxtaposition-ing” begin . . .
Then turning toward the woman [Jesus] said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:44-47 ESV)
Feeling a bit corrected this morning. In the past, reading of this sinner woman who crashed the Pharisee’s dinner in order to pour out an alabaster flask of ointment on Jesus feet has always seemed like an act of “extravagant worship.” But this morning, it seems to me Jesus is saying, “No. This isn’t extravagant worship. It is appropriate worship.” Appropriate, at least, for those who have been forgiven much.
Two people are placed side by side. What they have in common is a desire to be with Jesus. But that’s where the common ends and the contrasts begin.
One is a religious leader curious about Jesus . . . ready to evaluate Jesus. The other is a sinner woman in need of Jesus . . . ready to believe in Him. Simon condescendingly allows Jesus in his home . . . not even humbling himself enough to show Jesus the customary courtesies of eastern hospitality. The woman–that’s how she’s known, no name, just, the woman–openly desires Jesus in her life . . . happy to just be at His feet. Simon’s actions, or lack thereof, are a reflection of his perceived self-righteousness and his lack of need of a Savior. The woman’s actions, once thought to be “over the top” but now seeming to be just the right thing to do, are a portal to her heart demonstrating her self-awareness, her contrition, and her need of rescue. Simon, through his behavior, says, “I don’t need You.” The woman’s, “Oh how I need You, Lord!”
Simon really didn’t believe he had much to be forgiven for. The woman had no doubt as to how bankrupt she was because of her sin. Simon’s “worship” was understated because he didn’t get it. The woman’s worship was appropriate, not “extravagant”, because she did. Simon loved little. The woman loved much.
When’s the last time I wept at the feet of Jesus? The last time I remembered, and appreciated my redemption from the bondage of my sin to such a degree that I wanted nothing but to pour out all I had in thanksgiving and praise? The last time I loved much?
Seems there’s a caution here for the believer. We can become so used to the robe of righteousness He has freely given us to wear, that we think it’s our own. We can become so used to sitting with Him in heavenly places that we think we’ve earned the seat. We can become so accustomed to “walking the talk” that we think the scales have tipped in our favor because of what we’re doing. We can become Simon. Inviting Jesus to the table . . . but seeing little need to sit and worship at His feet.
Or, in humility we can, identifying with Paul “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1Tim. 1:15 NKJV), be like the woman. Desiring but the feet of Jesus . . . only the edge of His garment . . . if we might be in His presence. Seeking to honor and exalt Him with the outpouring of authentic, priceless praise birthed from truly thankful hearts. Our tears anointing the blessed Lamb of God who “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Not extravagant worship . . . but appropriate worship.
Forgiven much . . . and so, loving much. All because of grace. All for God’s glory.