In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Luke 7: 36-50
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to a dinner party. He accepted and ate with Simon the Pharisee, and with all the guests who were assembled. A woman who had “lived a sinful life” in that town was also present, and she brought with her an alabaster jar of perfume. She poured out that perfume onto Jesus’ feet, and as she was weeping, she wet his feet with her tears, kissing and wiping them with her hair.
When Simon saw this unusual display of affection, he thought, “If this man wee a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” Knowing his thoughts, Jesus answered, “Simon, I have something to tell you” and then proceeded to use a story to expose the truth. It was about two men owing money to a lender, one owing a large sum of five hundred denarii and the other owing fifty. As the lender cancels the debts of both, Jesus asks him, “Who would love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt.”
Simon answered the question correctly but missed the whole point. Obviously, the woman at Jesus’ feet loved him more because her many sins were forgiven. Grace was freely extended to the One who extended grace to her. In contrast, there weren’t even the customary expressions of grace extended to Jesus when he entered Simon’s home: water to wash his feet; a kiss on the cheek to welcome his guest; or oil on his head to bless his coming. But the woman hasn’t stopped kissing Jesus’ feet.
The woman’s many sins were forgiven graciously and generously by Jesus. The Pharisee continued to sin by hardening his heart to the love of Jesus and is the one who “has been forgiven little because he loves little.” But to the woman, her sins were forgiven and her faith saved her, so she was granted peace.
To love little was never a part of Jesus’ life or service to others. His love was granted overtly and with nothing shy of generosity. Jesus lavished love through the gift of grace. Grace was extended to all, but not all who heard him received his grace. He always offered and never withheld it, no matter what. Divine grace forgives sin, regenerates the heart, and sanctifies the life of those who receive this transforming and totally undeserved gift. God’s outstretched arms of love offer rich, unmerited favor, granted to sinners and saints alike, and always full of blessings to those who believe.
As a recipient of God’s grace, what is your response to Jesus, the Author of Divine Grace? How will your gratitude to God for the free gift of his grace affect how you extend grace to another? Love large and not little, dear friend! Behold Jesus generously granting grace; believe once more the transformational power of grace; belong to the company of grace recipients; and become a person of grace to all.