Scandalous Love

The message this month is about a love so scandalous that it was willing to leave the court of heaven and the throne of grace, take on human flesh, dwell among us, live a perfect life, be ridiculed, slandered, falsely accused, betrayed, abandoned, condemned to death, beaten, nailed to cross beams, and forsaken by His Father in heaven.  In the gospel of Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50 we read this:

“One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with Him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then 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 from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

This familiar story about a sinful woman forgiven is one of many pictures of our Savior’s “scandalous love” poured out on people like me and you.  In this story, this woman was clearly from the wrong side of the tracks.  She was not only a sinner by nature and habit, as we all are, but she was a sinner by profession, and invited others into her sinful style of living.  She shows up as an uninvited and unwanted guest at the home of Simon the Pharisee, for the religious would have nothing to do with the irreligious and “scandalous” sort like this woman known only by the name of “sinner”.  But she was not uninvited and unwanted by our Savior.  And this is the message of the “scandalous love” that Jesus pours out upon the scandalous.

“And as he reclined at the table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” Mark 2:15-17. Depending on how you see yourself, this is either a word of comfort for you or condemnation for Jesus.  For those who see themselves as religious and righteous as they are busily engaged in their self-salvation project, this is a word of condemnation to God who receives “scandalous” sinners.  But for those who see themselves as great sinners in need of an even greater Savior, it’s hard to find a story more comforting.

This sinful woman who was hated by the religious was loved by her redeemer.  This sinful woman who was despised by the good was loved by her God.  And Jesus poured out His unconditional and “scandalous” love on her to His own detriment.  The story tells us that Simon was quick to judge and condemn Jesus for letting such a wicked sinner handle Him in such an intimate and personal way.  Simon couldn’t stand the women being in his home.  Jesus received the woman standing at His feet.  Simon would have crossed the street to walk on the other side if he saw her coming toward him, lest he be defiled.  Jesus crossed the gates of heaven to receive her in her place of need.  Simon would have considered himself unclean if this sinner would have touched him.  Jesus was unmoved at what Simon thought, as this woman wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, anointed them with ointment, and ceased not to kiss them.

Regardless of where this finds you this month, the same “scandalous love” poured out on this sinful woman was poured out on you and that should be a source of great comfort for you today.  Because you already have God’s approval, you don’t need the approval of anyone else.  God is quite fond of you.  He told me to tell you.

This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT, AMEN!

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