Walking with Gratitude
Matthew, Luke and John tell the story of the anointing of Jesus. Apparently, a Pharisee called Simon wanted Jesus to have dinner at his house. Jesus obliged him and went with His disciples. Jesus had healed this Pharisee of leprosy. So, the dinner was a token of gratitude. A woman if ill repute – whose name was Mary - walks in the house uninvited. She brought with her an alabaster box filled with spikenard ointment. She broke the box and poured the ointment over Jesus. She also washed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair. Jesus had healed this woman of demon possession seven times. This was a demonstration of heartfelt appreciation. This incident was considered scandalous by most in the house, including the host. With disdain and indignation he thought to himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner" (Luke 7:39). By the way, Sister White says it was Simon who drew this woman – his niece- to sin. Luke then relates how Jesus responded to Simon. Let us read from Luke 7:40 – 47,
Luke7:40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
Luke7:41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
Luke7:42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Luke7:43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
Luke7:44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Luke7:45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
Luke7:46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Luke7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
Because of the fall, we are all deserving of death. But, John 3:16 says that,
John3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Because God loves us, instead of what we deserve God gives us a gift. 1 John 3:1 says that, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God …" The author of our lesson says that this verse stresses that in Jesus we are already God's children. God has taken the initiative to do this for us. The new birth is His work, not ours. We can bring about neither our own birth nor our adoption as God's children. Given the size of the universe in contrast to our planet, much less to each of us individually, how can we not be astonished that the God who created all this loves us and has made us His children? What a wonderful perspective this should give us on what our lives mean! What hope, what assurance, what confidence we should have for the future, regardless of whatever difficult circumstances we now face? God, the Creator of all that is, loves us, cares for us, and calls us His children. Have you ever dwelt on the implications of the notion that not only does God exist but He loves us, cares for us, and even died for us. How should this reality impact how we live?
If we are like Simon, we will host a little get together pot-lock to honor Jesus. We would do it after church. One dinner should be sufficient to thank he who loves us so much He died the death we deserved. If, in contrast, we are like Mary we will give everything we have in order to continually thank Him. Our gratitude shows how much we love, which in turn shows how much we believe we are forgiven. Do we live grateful lives? How grateful are we that God has in Jesus restored us as His children? Will we gratefully let Him - through the work of His indwelling Spirit - transform us into the likeness of His Son?