Extravagant Love

I hope everyone had a really fun and life-giving Christmas. I can't believe there are only a few days left of 2012! A lot has happened this year and I'm even more hopeful looking ahead, knowing that Jesus has proven Himself both faithful and good over and over again. I'm hoping to blog some more over the next few weeks (famous last words) about different things I've been learning from the Scriptures recently but haven't had time to write them all out yet. So, seeing as how my blog pages have been empty since April, I thought I'd share one I wrote for work a couple days ago (have I mentioned how much I love my job and that this is part of my "work?")...

(Read Luke 7 for context of this blog)

“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – Luke 7:44-47

I remember hearing a sermon one time where the pastor was giving an example of love. He was talking about when he first met his wife in college he spent his whole paycheck on buying her things she didn’t even need. He was so overwhelmed with love for this girl that it led to action…and an empty pocket. But that didn’t matter to him; what mattered was getting to show affection to the one he loved. He went on to say, “if someone is cheap with you, be sure you got a problem!” We can laugh at this, as his congregation did, but we also need to ask ourselves, “Are we cheap when it comes to loving Jesus? Are we so consumed with loving Jesus that it overflows into our actions?” In Luke 7, we see a beautiful picture of overwhelming love moved to action.

Jesus enters the house of Simon for a meal. Simon, a Pharisee, was a man who knew all the rules and followed every one of them. He was a man that had his religion in order and was known for it. Pharisees were the most prominent of all the Jewish leaders of that day and made sure everyone around them knew that.  

Who better than Simon, a Pharisee, to host Jesus?

As Jesus and Simon sit at the table a woman enters. This woman was a woman of the city, a woman not known for her adherence to the Jewish law but the breaking of it. She was a woman who was walking in sin and everyone in the community made sure she knew that.

Surely, she was one of the last people expected to recognize who the Son of God is.

This woman hears the news that Jesus is at the house of Simon. In courage and faith, she goes, carrying something so precious to her - her alabaster jar of ointment. Suddenly she finds herself standing, sinful, dirty, in the presence of the sinless, perfect one, Jesus. Overcome by the presence of God in this man and filled with gratitude for the kindness in His eyes, she does something unexpected to those in the room. She falls at Jesus’ feet, weeping, wiping away her tears with her hair. This woman of the city begins to kiss His feet with lips once used to kiss and whisper in the shadows of darkness. This broken woman takes in her hands the alabaster jar and breaks it, pouring the ointment over the feet of Jesus. The very same hands stained with sin, wrong choices, and the hurt and pain from what is now her identity- those hands break open this bottle to anoint the only One that can wash her hands clean.

For a moment it is as if there is no one else in the room.

But there is, and they are shocked and disgusted. How could Jesus let this woman touch Him? Jesus, looking at her, begins to speak, not to her, but to his host. “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He goes on to tell a story of two debtors, one whose debt was greater than the other.  They were unable to pay their debt, but in an extreme act of mercy and grace the one they owed stepped in and paid their debt. Who would be more grateful? Of course the one who’s debt was greater.

Jesus points out that He is standing in front of two debtors. One at His feet worshipping out of a heart devastated with gratitude for what He is going to cover; her insurmountable debt was handled. The other completely missing that his debt would be covered not by his law-keeping goodness but by the blood of the man in front of him. He was not caught up in gratitude, but disgust that Jesus would let a sinner sit at His feet. If only he realized he needed to be sitting at Jesus’ feet.

The very Son of God came into the religious man’s home. Simon, a man so morally disciplined, who denied many worldly pleasures for his piety missed it. He missed Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, in his own living room. The one found worshipping Jesus wasn’t the man that looked clean on the outside, but a known sinner, a woman who knew her desperate need for a Savior.

Have we missed it? Have we missed Jesus in our every day? Have we missed the work He is doing in our life because we are distracted by something or someone else? Have we forgotten our own desperate need for our Savior? Let us be like this woman who knew she was a sinner that needed a Rescuer. Let us be so overcome with gratitude that He has paid what we could not. Let there be many moments when it seems that no one else is in the room because we are so consumed with worshipping Jesus, our Rescuer.

How do we know if we’ve missed it? A good question to ask is do you love and extravagantly? When we truly start understanding God’s love for us and live in the reality of it, the result is love. Love for God, the things of God and His people.

Love is extravagant. Love doesn’t take into consideration what others will think. Love is sacrificial. Love grows as it receives love. Love deepens as the understanding of the one it loves deepens.

The love displayed in Luke 7 is this kind of love. This woman displayed an extravagant love. Why? Because she knew that Jesus loves and forgives extravagantly. She was forgiven and loved with His love.

So are you.