Forgiveness First, Then Love’s Outpouring


I know you can’t read hearts, but based on outward experience, of all the people you know, who would you say loves Jesus the most? 

Think about that for a moment. Based on what you have witnessed from others, who do you think has poured out their love for Christ in the most amazing way? In the loving Christ department, who would you recognize as #1?

In the Gospels, I would have to give the winning trophy to 2 women.

Some believe that the “anointing” accounts in Lk 7:36-50; Mt 26:6–13; Mk 14:3–9; Jn 12:1–8 are the same event. Others try to make them 3 different events. I believe strongly that Lk 7:36-50 is an event in the second year of Jesus’ ministry, while the other 3 are the same event by Mary near the end of Jesus’ earthly life.

In Luke’s account, Jesus presented a measuring stick to determine how much someone loves Him, therefore enabling us to have some way to measure love. That measuring stick is hidden in Jesus’ parable that most people call the Two Debtors, Lk. 7:41-42: “Two people 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 forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Jesus posed this question to Simon, a Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner. Simon responded, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 

So in Jesus’ own words, the one forgiven the most, loves Him the most.

Jesus then compared Simon’ absence of expressions of love for Him that evening, with the sinful woman’s behavior. The lesson was clear and plain. “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.

45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 

46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 

47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ 

48 Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ 

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ 

50 Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ ”

It was the woman’s actions of love that proved to be the measuring stick of her love for Jesus. So it was then, so it remains true today. Our actions toward, with and for Jesus are the measuring stick of how much we truly love Him, not our words. 

Consider John 14: v 15 “If you love me, keep my commands.” 

v 21 “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”

And notice one more special thing about this woman. Many believe that she arrived a lost sinner, but then was forgiven and left a saved believer. Not true. In fact that view violates the parable. The parable proved, in Jesus’ own words, that the outpouring of love for Jesus came AFTER her forgiveness. 

So this woman had already met Jesus and been forgiven by Him. Then, AFTER being forgiven, she poured out her love for Him. And keep in mind that she was the first to do anything like this. 

The other anointing by Mary was near the end of Jesus’ life. This anointing is at least a year before the second one by Mary. Think of how much bravery was mixed with her love, to prompt her to do what she did that evening.

Lesson? I challenge each of us, who profess a genuine faith in Christ, to fill our lives with outrageous acts of love for Him that will bring Him the glory that He so richly deserves. 

May the Simons in our lives drop their jaws when they witness our outpouring of deeds of love for our Savior. But remember, the dropping of the jaws of the Simons in our lives is not the point.

Simon’s offence wasn’t the point of the woman’s outpouring of love for her new Master, Jesus; it was a by-product, a result. Don’t try to pour out incredible acts of love for Jesus, just to impress the Simons. Because if you do that, Jesus receives no love.

One final thing, concerning those who, even as children, have always loved Jesus and tried to live for Him, how can they prove that they love Him the most. How can those who are actually in the “forgiven little” category, prove themselves to be in the “love much” flock? How can those who have sinned the least, prove that they love the most?

Charles Spurgeon addresses this question. “What is the best way to reach this point? Not to be great sinners, but to feel that you are great sinners, to have a deep sense of your own sinfulness. If you have never plunged into open vice, be thankful that you have not done so; but set a clear view of your sin till you are humbled, and broken down, and crushed under its ponderous weight. Then go to Jesus Christ with this load of sin; and, trusting in him, know that you are forgiven through his atoning sacrifice; and then there will be a powerful motive within you which will give strength to your entire life, and put muscle, and nerve, and sinew, and bone into your Christianity.”