‘TRUE’ WORSHIP evolves from a HEART of LOVE & GRATITUDE: Then He (Jesus) turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? 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. 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 7:44-47)
The above passage is the ending part of an episode that happened during the public ministry of Jesus Christ. This incident, elaborated in Luke 7:36–50, takes place from an invitation given by a respectable Pharisee named Simon to Jesus to eat with him (v. 36). A custom of those days allowed people to congregate around an open courtyard while the guests reclined together at the table. This accounts for the sinful disreputable, unnamed woman described as a “sinner” (v. 37) who gains entrance to Simon’s feast and gets access to the feet of Jesus!
It is possible that religious leaders and teachers were prohibited from coming into contact with such kind of loose women due to strict religious laws that had developed in the first century to ensure moral purity. Jesus was well aware of the lifestyle of this “sinner” woman. She was looked down by the Jewish society for failing to keep the ritual laws as well as flaunting the moral laws as well. Yet, He accepted her anyway, violating taboos against speaking with her or allowing her to touch Him. In return, she gave to Jesus what Simon, the host, should have given Jesus, and that include a kiss of welcome, washing of His feet, and anointing His head with oil (see Ps. 23:5). These comforts were not merely symbolic but practical expressions of hospitality.
Simon’s self-righteousness blinded him to the true identity of Jesus and his own need. Dr. H. C. Woodèring has written the following on this subject: “When God cannot get religious leaders to appreciate Christ, He will get harlots to do so.” Simon had not provided the common courtesy of washing the dusty feet of Jesus nor had he given the customary kiss of peace when Jesus arrived at his home. To add to the above, Simon did not anoint the head of Jesus, which was the practice reserved for an honored guest on a festive day. Anointing was generally reserved for the most significant and special guests, but unfortunately Jesus was not one of them!
On the other hand, this “sinner” woman must have felt a tremendous sense of gratitude mingled with profound unworthiness (see Mark 14:3–9). Overwhelmed, this unnamed woman let down her hair in public (forbidden in the Jewish society), and anointed His feet with her tears. She also brought something very costly to worship – an alabaster flask of fragrant oil – washed His feet with her tears of adoration and wiped His feet with her hair. Thus, she truly worshiped Jesus from her heart of deep love and tremendous gratitude!
So, this woman was forgiven because of her faith (v. 50). Her love showed that she understood what forgiveness from God meant for her. The application Jesus makes to Simon and the sinful woman is that both have been forgiven, but that the one who has a greater amount to have been forgiven will appreciate that forgiveness most. The more we sense the lost and hopeless condition we were in, the more we will appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us!
Today, we can learn the following from the words of Jesus: salvation is the result of God’s gracious work upon our lives that is received by faith; God graciously forgives our debt of sin that we can never repay; peace with God is possible because God forgives our sins completely; the more we understand forgiveness, the more love we will have for Christ; and true worship stems from our hearts of gratitude and love for the grace of God. The woman’s love was evidence of having been forgiven rather than the cause of her forgiveness. The Pharisee, on the other hand, had felt little need for forgiveness; consequently, his love was small.
In applying the principle to Simon and the woman, Jesus shows that one, who realizes the depth of his/her own sin, and the greatness of God’s mercy, must love as this woman does. Faith secured her pardon, and the realization of God’s forgiveness brought forth her expression of gratitude. A forgiven heart is a fountain of beauty, which include the beauty of holiness, humility and love. Let us recall our past sins and how God in Christ has forgiven us completely. Today, let us worship God truly with our hearts filled with love and gratitude!
"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." (Psalms 95:6) "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13:15)