Friday, January 21, 2011

Commentary: Forgiveness, Love and Gratitude

Forgiveness, Love and 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. As she was crying, her tears fell on Jesus' feet, she in turn
dried his feet 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 Simon 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.

The word translated from the Greek as forgiveness in verses 42 and 43
is charizomai. It is the same word used in verse 21 referring to the
fact that Christ gave (charizomai) sight to the blind. The word can
be defined as to extend favor, to give a gift, to pardon, to restore.
The debt of the debtors had been canceled. The creditor took a loss
to do this. It was a gift. And, giving always comes at a loss to the
giver. The point Jesus was making to Simon is that the one that whose
debt was greater received the larger gift, therefore was more grateful
than the other. Did Jesus really forgive Simon more than Mary? Was
Simon's sin greater than Mary's? Was the gift to Simon really larger?
They were both sinners in need of a Savior. Both received grace from
God. Therefore, Simon should have been more grateful than he showed
to be.

How much have we been forgiven? 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:
His Son. The cost of the gift is too immense to put in numbers. God
paid for it. Because of this gift of His Son we can now be called His
children. Jiohn says in 1 John 3:1,

1 John 3:1 "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed
upon us, that we should be called the sons of God ..."

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. Dwell 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. 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 to be 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?
Raul Diaz