By Jim Tune
Luke tells the story of a prostitute who was so desperate to see Jesus that she crashed a dinner party at a Pharisee’s house. Moved by Jesus’ love for people like her, she began to sob, drenching his feet with her tears. Finally, she was embarrassed by her own lack of inhibitions. She started to dry Jesus’ feet with her hair, and then, overcome with emotion, she kissed them and bathed them in perfume.
This scene made everyone uncomfortable. To the Pharisees, her actions seemed inappropriate, scandalous, sensual. The host expressed his outrage, saying to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).
Jesus turned to him and asked this question: “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?” (7:41, 42).
The host replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven” (7:43).
Jesus told him the same was true with this prostitute. She actually loved Jesus more than the Pharisee because she had been forgiven more. “But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (7:47).
I am one who has been forgiven much.
Our noncreedal brand of Christianity is not big on formal catechisms or confessions. But question two of the Heidelberg Catechism resonates with me. When I understand “how great my sins and miseries are,” only then can I appreciate “how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries,” which then provokes me to wonder how I am to thank God for such deliverance.
Jesus didn’t wink at sin, but he didn’t write sinners off either. He offered faith, hope, and love. You would expect this to come naturally to Christians—a lifestyle of faith, hope, and love. But freedom requires honesty. We do ourselves no favors when we define ourselves as “good” and others as “bad.” Let’s just agree we all need help, we are all in this together.
Jesus frustrates religious people like me. He seems to want to lump all of humanity into two groups: people who think they are righteous and people who know they are sinners. We either pretend we don’t need him or acknowledge we do.
There is a beauty in brokenness that moves the heart of Christ. Like broken alabaster jars, when we sit among the shards of our shattered hopes—sifting through pieces that we know will simply not go back together again—it’s exactly where God wants us.
More than ever it is in my unexpected places of brokenness that I’m hearing Jesus speak more tenderly, leading me deeper into new places of rest.