By Carey Helmink
I have been a follower of Jesus for over 50 years – literally. I remember kneeling beside my cousin in my grandma’s bedroom and asking Jesus into my heart. I was 4 years old. I understood the gospel to the extent that a 4-year-old can, and I believe that moment changed the trajectory of my life. The upside to that story is that, while I have made many regrettable mistakes in my life, I have also been spared from many decisions that could have ruined me. We all have different stories. Some of you came to know Christ later in life than I did, some of you MUCH later. But I know that many of you can relate to my story as well.
The downside to a story like mine is well-illustrated in this passage in Luke 7.
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (Luke 7:36-47)
I don’t often relate to the Pharisees. Mostly, they make me angry, and if I were Jesus, I would have had harsh words for them as well. But if I’m honest – I can be more like Simon than I care to admit. In v. 47 Jesus says that a person who is forgiven little shows only little love. I don’t think Jesus is saying that Simon was ACTUALLY forgiven little but rather that Simon THOUGHT he was forgiven little. The woman at Jesus’ feet was aware of her sins and of the grace that was being shown to her. Simon on the other hand thought he was in pretty good shape – especially compared to THAT woman – and his need for grace was not so much.
Simon went through the motions of having Jesus in his home, but he never really let him impact his heart. I never want to be a Simon. I don’t want to compare my sins with those of the world around me and think that I come out pretty good.
If I am walking on a narrow mountain path and my foot slips and I fall down the mountain, the result is the same as if I had hurled myself off on purpose. Off the path is off the path. In the words of Jesus, if I have broken part of the law, I have broken the whole law. The reality is that I have been forgiven much, and I never want to forget that.
I want to be ever aware of my need for a Savior. I want to be like the woman at Jesus’ feet.
“Lord, I need you, oh, I need You.
Every hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness;
Oh, God, how I need You.”