Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lenten Devotional: Day Nine, Saturday Feb. 16th "No Perfect People Allowed"

Gospel Reading: Luke 6:12-7
Devotional Emphasis: Luke 7:47 “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

In Luke’s gospel, the famous sermon Jesus preaches is known as “The Sermon on the Plains” because he comes down from the mountain and stands on a level place. You will notice some obvious differences between the sermons in Matthew and Luke. Luke only uses four beatitudes, but adds four woes to go with them. He does not include the “You have heard it said,” phrases or the teachings on piety. He does not talk about “treasures in heaven.” Luke focuses on the poor and the hungry, on loving your enemies, judges others, bearing fruit, and building your house by obeying Jesus’ words. After the shorter sermon in Luke we see Jesus perform two miracles, one for a centurion (A Roman) and one for a Widow’s son, reminding us of Elijah’s ministry in 1 Kings. We then see John’s disciples coming to Jesus and asking if he is really the messiah, which Jesus responds by showing how Isaiah 61 has been fulfilled. He says the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are healed, the deaf hear, dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

Later Jesus is invited to a dinner by one of the Pharisees. It does not take long for Jesus to cause a commotion. A person who Luke calls “a woman who had lived a sinful life” shows up and begins wiping Jesus’ feet with her tears, kissing his feet, and pouring perfume on them. When the Pharisees notice what is happening, they are taken back and begin to wonder why Jesus would allow this type of behavior. Jesus explains her actions by giving a word problem. Two people are in debt, one owes more than the other and their debts are both forgiven, who will be the most thankful. Obviously the one that has the most debt will be the most thankful. Jesus then says this lady loves God more because she has been forgiven the most debt. She showed this reality in that she actually did to Jesus’ feet what a good host should have done, but the host of this party had done nothing.

Jesus’ comment that people who are forgiven much love much and those who are forgiven a little, love just a little. It makes me wonder if Jesus is saying we should be “big sinners” so that we can experience more forgiveness. Surely not! Paul tells us that we should NOT sin more so we receive more grace. I think Jesus has something else in mind. I think Jesus is saying we all sin a great deal and it is the one who admits their need for forgiveness that loves a lot. As the title of a great book says, “No Perfect People Allowed” we need to create an atmosphere where people are free to acknowledge their imperfections and breathe in the fresh grace of God and experience God’s forgiveness. When we do, we will fall in love with God all the more.

No comments: