Maybe you don’t have a big brother in your family like me….yet I do have a Big Heavenly Brother, Jesus, and He has done a lot for all of us.
You may have been taught many times regarding the woman with the alabaster box, in Luke 7. How she had poured out everything she had on Jesus; and while that is a beautiful teaching, as I read this story with fresh eyes the Lord woke something up in me that I want to share with you. Let’s dig into this historical account about this nameless woman, called a sinner, whom had an interaction with Jesus which changed her life forever.
In the beginning of Luke 7, Jesus is invited to Simon’s house, a Pharisee. Right before this invite He is talking about John the Baptist and says this: ““I tell you that among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser! Yet the one who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he!”” Luke 7:28 (CJB)
What I find extremely interesting is this is exactly who Jesus ministers to…the least. They are the people society deems less than through our human eyes. Jesus did come to help the world see how His Father sees, among many other things He did. As Jesus traveled in those last three years of His life there is an emphasis in what He DOES which shows us just how important each individual is. No one is higher or lower. Everyone is on equal standing no matter wha they have done or not done and yet each of us is still uniquely made. When we look at the historical life story of Jesus, within scripture, He healed the blind, lepers, woman and children. Yet, to the many of the “well taught” men he was trying to heal their thinking. He desired for them to repent, to see things differently and that had to start in the brain of these well taught “leaders” in the community. It is the same within the story in Luke 7. It is interesting that the least, within societies beliefs at that time, saw Jesus for Who He is; while those that would be considered greater had a much more difficult time seeing Who He is.
Let’s look at this account in Luke 7:36-50 (NASB)
“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “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 she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””
Three things I took note of in this passage:
As I put all three of the above things together while reading this account, I wept with the beauty and simplicity of Who God is and has been since the beginning. In this story holds the simple yet glorious good news that Jesus had come to bring to all the people in this world He had created and loves so dearly. The woman can be found in each one of us born from Adam; as we are born into sin (Psalm 51:1) and if you don’t believe this to be true you are deceiving yourselves (1 John 1:8). I don’t know about you but I know I have had many sins, even after receiving God’s free gift. Please remember we go from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). I also know that there is no way I could keep all of the Law as Jesus Christ has done for He has “upheld and upholds” the law (Torah) (1 Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2 CJB). Because of this everyone should be able to relate to this woman, a sinner. So what did this sinner do?? She loved (agapáo)!!! Not just a mushy…oh I love you; but a preference, a personal selection, a free will choice showing good judgement and chose to follow the God given mustard seed of faith and trusted, believed in Who Jesus is. She went and treated Him for Who she saw Him as, the King of kings. The Pharisee, Simon, in this account did not. Simon didn’t believe he needed much forgiveness. He also believed He wasn’t in need of a Savior because he had the law to follow, his own performance that he relied on, and the yearly sacrifice for Israel-the Day of Atonement. He was a Pharisee for goodness sake. Yet, Jesus here told an important truth those that do not feel or think they have many sins love little. Their reliance is more on themselves and their behavior and less on Him and what He desires to do for you. Lastly, the woman did not go and beg Jesus to forgive her. She did not speak all of her sins out and ask for forgiveness. She actually did not utter a word to Him; she simply trusted in Who He is, and chose to believe Who He was in her heart and her actions showed her belief. This faith is what saved her. She boldly approached the throne of Grace, as a SINNER, and she simply from the heart believed in Who Jesus is and Jesus announced her faith (trust and belief) saved her. Out of this faith, in Who Jesus is, came an act of agapáo (“loving”), an affection of choice and selection, a desire to love from and through Him, His strength that made her whole as Jesus said, “Your faith (belief, trust) has saved you, go in peace (wholeness).” Her faith saved her, not her spotless record she tried to maintain but her faith. Your faith saves you not your spotless record or your performance or your trying to act right. Just your faith and out of this faith come these actions of agapáo. This account happened before the Cross, before Jesus took all of the sins of the world upon Himself. He was showing the “ones who were more influential in the world’s eyes” how their system of trying to follow the law could not be done nor would it ever bring the type of relationship that God, the Father, was desiring from the beginning: humans desiring , preferring , choosing and selecting Him out of our own free will. He sent His Son to make the Way for us and all we have to do is agapáo- choose Him, just like the woman who walked in a sinner, broke her alabaster box and chose Jesus, believed in Who He is and walked out forgiven and whole. There was no groveling but an active free will choice to choose Him, to believe in Who He is.
Jesus’ agapáo was
going to the Cross for us,
God’s agapáo was sending His Son
and then placing His wraith for the sin
humanity was due on His Son
and humanity’s agapáo
is to believe in Who He is
Because see He first chose you, us, the world. He agapáo us.
Jesus’ agapáo was going to the Cross for us, God’s agapáo was sending His Son and then placing the wraith for sin humanity was due on His Son and humanity’s agapáo is to believe in Who He is. This is the simplicity of the Good News: fully loved, fully chosen, fully selected, fully forgiven, fully righteous, fully reborn, fully live forever with God, fully whole. This is how I see myself daily in the facts of all Jesus did for me on the Cross. He does not want a groveling child but a child that is confident in what their Big Brother has done for them, what their Daddy did for them…living from that place of reassurance, embraced by the Holy Spirit our Helper…why not come join me in this safe place.
As I was talking to my husband about this upcoming post, he gave such a great analogy regarding this particular subject. He said when he is aiming at a target downrange if you are just a little off it will impact your ability to hit the target. It may not seem like you are off that much yet as the bullet travels away from the gun the trajectory which started just a little off will make a big difference downrange. How far off have you been or are you now about your view of God? How far off are your core values to His? It again points to the starting point which is how you view God that allows a direct hit of a target downrange.
For so long I held on to a belief system that I had to prove myself worthy of God’s love. I didn’t realize that I said one thing-“God loves me!” while at the same time deep within myself believing I had to do everything right to keep His love. This is a wrong core value or starting point. This way of thinking sent me hitting targets like: I am not good enough, I will never be good enough, I hate myself because I can’t get it right, God hates me, the whole world hates me because if God hates me then how in the world could I love myself much less anyone else. I just NEVER could perform in excellence like….well…..Jesus did. I was told I must emulate Jesus in every way and I found myself lacking…day after day. Now WHAT!?!?!!! I didn’t give up on God….but I believe we see a generation that quite frankly….IS. Why are they? I believe because they are starting at the wrong starting point with their view of God.
In my last post, It Truly Can’t Get Any Better, I promised to write about the “law of liberty” found in James. It is important we have the correct view of God to fully understand this concept “law of liberty”. Many in the church see this “law” as “right behavior”–“Do this, but don’t do that!”. Yet, early Christians understood this to mean something completely different…..or maybe they just started at the right starting point. Let’s dig into the words here (info comes from biblehub.com):
Law-Nomos (3551)-This word must be taken in context to understand what law is being talked about….I can hear my English teacher: context, context, context!!! The law regarding the Christian faith is used only 4 times in scripture: Roman 3:27 Law of faith; Galatians 6:2 Law of love; and James 1:25 and James 2:12 Law of “liberty”.
Liberty-Eluthria (1657)-“Freedom, liberty, a state of freedom from slavery”. Freedom from the dominion of corrupt desires, so that we do by FREE IMPULSE of the SOUL what the will of God requires. There is a note in biblehub.com it states see Epistle of Barnabas 2,6. Which led me to the Epistle…which in turn led me to the scripture in Psalms 51:
As I meditated on this scripture and the meaning of the “Law of Liberty”, I distinctly heard the Lord say to me:
“A Humble Heart is required when you become a Christian to even accept such a free gift; it continues to take a Humble Heart to run the race and realize it is not about you—your behavior or your “goodness” but about Me, My behavior and Goodness.”
That was so good to hear and yet I knew there was more He wanted to articulate to me. And of course it came….I needed to understand the word HUMILITY.
Now let’s look at HUMILITY in the Greek:
(a noun, derived from 5011 /tapeinós, “low, humble” and 5424 /phrḗn, “moderation as regulated by inner perspective”) – properly, low; humility, “lowliness” of human pride (self-government); that quality of mindset of “having a humble opinion of oneself, i.e. a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness – i.e. lowliness of mind” (J. Thayer). In Scripture, 5012 /tapeinophrosýnē (“lowliness, humility”) is an inside-out virtue. produced by comparing ourselves to the Lord (rather than to others)… For the believer, 5012 /tapeinophrosýnē (“humility”) means living in complete dependence on the Lord, i.e. with no reliance on self (the flesh). The word occurs neither in the O. T., nor in secular authors.
I have written a little about this in, It’s an Inside Job. When we compare ourselves to Christ we will always fall short. In this, we realize we need a Savior and must always rely on His Finished Work and the Holy Spirit working inside us; not our own ability (self/flesh) that produces any “right behavior”. This is humility, as a Christian: realizing it isn’t your ability that is creating any right behavior but His Spirit in you changing you from the inside out. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Free from the carnal desires of the old corrupt self. Simply live from that truth. Remember the word “liberty” in Greek means our soul, because of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross for us and He sent us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, will by FREE IMPULSE do what the will of God is and we are free, no longer slaves, to our old corrupt desires. This is the truth, the fact that we live from. This is what James is telling people. He says, “Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free.” (James 2:12) We, in truth or in fact, live from the place of freedom from our old nature. It is dead and we now live as a new creation, alive with the Holy Spirit within us. Are we perfect, NO of course not—Jesus was and is the ONLY PERFECT SACRIFICE.
For me to hit the bulls eye downrange I needed to start at the right point. The starting point is simple: God loves me no matter what before I was a Christian and after I accept His free gift. This is Grace. I used to believe God loved me before I was a Christian but now that I am a Christian I have to earn His love, favor and protection. See this slight difference makes a HUGE difference downrange. This wrong starting point puts me back under a law that I was never intended to be able to perform.
I also came to better understand that I have complete dependence on God. Yet even that understanding had to come from the right starting point. I finally realized I can not make myself behave or do right…..but He changes my thinking, my actions and He does this from the inside and it naturally becomes outward actions. Do I always get it right…..no! But does He still love me and has He already paid the price for my mistakes….YES!! Do I spend hours with Him….of course I do….HE LIVES IN ME! He is there 24/7 in ME!!!!!! Do I make it a religious thing….certainly not…He told me to let go of the rules. He wanted me….all of me…flaws and beauty…the whole package. He didn’t want a robot or someone ultra religious, trying to look holy or make myself holy….He knew it was just an act…just me relying on my flesh to make myself holy. But now I understand He truly makes me holy 100%…not because I have done everything right or performed A, B and C…..and don’t forget about D….heaven forbid I forget D…I say this in jest, but honestly that is how I used to live. No more…I live from a place of freedom. No longer a slave but a daughter of the Most High King. Holy because He is holy, Righteous because He is righteous, Fully forgiven because Jesus paid for all my sins and Saved because He rose from the dead. Simple faith that grows inside which is a free gift from God that I receive. According to Psalm 51:16-17, He does not want us going through the motions or a flawless performance….yet He does desire broken pride and a shattered heart. Humility is the opposite of pride. It took humility to realize I needed saving and righteousness in the first place. It takes humility to realize Jesus is the only One Who paid the price to give to the world salvation and righteousness. Humility must remain after we accept the free gift because that is the place we live from knowing that it isn’t us that changes our inward parts but God through His Spirit in us……that is GRACE.