Who Loves More?

Luke 7:40-43
 
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
 
Jesus is invited to a dinner party by a Pharisee named Simon. Jesus, because he loves people and parties, gladly accepts. As the evening progresses a woman, described as “living a sinful life” breaks with all cultural customs and social norms. In spectacular fashion she drops to her knees and washes Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and her very own hair! She does this strange act even while crying up a storm. Her odd behavior catches the judgmental eye of Simon and the other religious elite. They immediately belittle the woman and begin to reason, “If Jesus was really a vaunted prophet he would know the kind of woman who had done this to him. Their logic: Since the woman had a sordid moral past there was no way a holy prophet of God would ever allow her to get within a hundred yards of him let alone permit physical contact.
Jesus hears the whine of their objection and in response summons Simon over to his table. He asks Simon, “If two people owe a lending agency some money, the first $500 and the second $50 but in no way could repay but the lending agent said, “Don’t worry about it this time boys, I am in a generous mood, both of your debts are forgiven in full.” “Simon, which of the two would love the agent more?” Simon says, “That’s easy, the one who owed more.” Jesus said, “You may not be the smartest knife in the drawer but you certainly got this one right.”
Here we see the connection between love, forgiveness, and gratitude. Like the two debtors, the woman that had “sinned greatly” loved Jesus way more than the Pharisees did, because he had forgiven her of so much. The Pharisees were known for their morally upstanding lives but they loved Jesus a whole lot less (if at all) because they had far less for which to be forgiven. Or did they?
 
The Scriptures are clear in places like Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23, and 6:23 that “We are sinners because we sin and sin because we are sinners” and as such, we all owe an infinite debt to our infinitely holy God. Obviously, Jesus paid our debt in full with his sinless, substitionary, and sacrificial death on the Cross. Hallelujah! But if we believe that we are basically good folks because, “We don’t smoke, drink, or chew or run with those who do thus are sins are really not that bad” our gratitude levels will plummet and take with it our love for Christ.
 
Now don’t get me wrong. God wants us to be good and live good moral lives and the sooner the better! However, our top-of-mind-awareness even for best among us, simply needs to be, “We have been forgiven a whole heck of lot because even one of our sins has the power to separate us from God and land us in hell in forever.” So let’s keep the attitude of gratitude for Jesus high and watch as greater love for him grows in our souls.
 
Agape,
 
Pj
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