Focus: Gratitude for forgiveness
Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Less than a week before Jesus was crucified—six days to be exact—He had been invited to the house of a Pharisee, who is referred to as ‘Simon the leper’. We aren’t told anything more about Simon—other than the fact he was a leper and that he lived in Bethany, which happened to be the same town where Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha lived.
Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, were dear friends of Jesus. His ministry had clearly impacted their lives. It was Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead, four days after he had died from a sickness. Undoubtedly, there is more history than we are able to trace about the friendship of Jesus with this family.
On this particular occasion, Mary wasn’t invited to the meal, judging from the reaction she received from Simon, when she ‘showed up’, in the account given by Luke. The story in the Gospel of John, tells us that Lazarus was one of the guests who sat at the table with Jesus, and Martha served.
In Luke, we’re told that a woman who was a known sinner came into the house and brought an alabaster container of fragrant oil. She made her way over to Jesus and stood at His feet weeping. She began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. As she did this, she kissed the feet of Jesus and anointed them with fragrant oil.
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The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dine with him saw what was going on and was thinking to himself about it. Simon was considering the idea that if Jesus was a prophet, He would know who and what manner of woman it was who was touching Him, for she was a sinner.
Jesus knew what Simon was thinking. He said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
Simon said, “Teacher, say it.”
Jesus proceeded to give an illustration. “There was a certain lender who had two debtors. One of the debtors owed 500 denarii, and the other one owed 50. When they had nothing with which to repay, the lender freely forgave the debt each of them had owed. Tell me, then, which of these debtors will love the lender more?”
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the debtor who was forgiven of the most.”
Jesus said, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave Me no kiss, but she has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You didn’t 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.”
Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Some of the accounts say that when the disciples saw what Mary had done with the oil, they were indignant. They said, “Why this waste? This fragrant oil might have been sold for much (the equivalent of a year’s wage) and given to the poor.”
Jesus told them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for me. You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have Me. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Have you given much thought as to what you have been forgiven? Have you spent quality time thanking the Lord for the forgiveness you have received? Have you ever felt the kind of gratitude that was shown by the woman with the alabaster box?
Declaration: I will find new strength by pondering the size of debt I have been forgiven. I will give the Lord quality time and attention, as a way of showing my gratitude. I will show others the same kind of mercy Christ showed me.
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