I came across a story while reading in Luke, and it’s been heavy on my heart ever since. I’ve read it several times before, and it was one of those stories in the Bible I heard many times growing up. Maybe because it was familiar to me, I didn’t stop to really understand the depth of the words that were written. Or just maybe, stories like this one can’t be fully understood until you have weathered some of the many storms you will inevitably face in this life.
The story I’m talking about is in Luke 7:36, where Jesus is anointed by a sinful woman. While Jesus was having dinner in the home of a Pharisee, a woman with a sinful reputation learned that Jesus was there. We read that she went to the Pharisee’s home with an alabaster jar of perfume. Upon seeing Jesus, she began to weep, using her tears to wet his feet and wiping them with her hair, followed by pouring the perfume on them.
In this day and time, washing someone’s feet would seem strange. However in their culture, washing the feet of guests was a customary ritual of hospitality, though usually the perfume was used to anoint the head, not the feet. Because of her reputation, she may have felt unworthy to anoint his head, and no doubt held the fear of rejection. But she was still intent on giving Jesus the best she could offer.
As the Pharisee witnessed this encounter, he made the statement that if Jesus really was who he said he was, he would know what kind of woman was touching him- a sinner. Jesus goes on to tell him a story about two people who owed a debt to a money lender.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-42)
The Pharisee responded with the obvious answer. The one who had the bigger debt forgiven would have a deeper appreciation for his forgiveness.
Jesus acknowledges that he was indeed correct, and we watch the rest of the story unfold.
“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.””
Luke 7:44-48 NIV
While flesh and the enemy try to tell us that we are too far gone in our sins, that we’ve messed up too much, that we are too bad, too sinful, hopeless and on the fast track to hell, God reminds us that the bigger our baggage is, the bigger the blessing will be when we turn to him in repentance. It was harder for me to understand this story as a young girl, because I hadn’t yet experienced the depth of God’s Grace and mercy. I’ve had to tell myself time and time again that there isn’t a thing as “too much” for God. We all fall short of his glory every day and we always will. But the beauty of it is He knows that. He knew it on the cross and he died for us anyway.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Jesus died as the ultimate atonement for sins, and that allows us to be able to approach God directly and with confidence, because whatever it is you think you’ve done that is beyond forgiveness.. has already been nailed to the cross.