by Darrell L. Bock
One of the most famous of the stories about Jesus comes from a dinner scene where a sinful woman anoints Jesus’ feet to the shock of his dinner host (Luke 7:36–50).
This text has many points, but we focus on two that come from the parable in the middle of the story.
First, Jesus makes clear that the woman’s faith, which He commends as saving her here, is a response to the initiative that God undertook to forgive sin. God’s offer of forgiveness, which she appreciated and accepted, motivated her action.
Second, Jesus says something very profound here. He says that the depth of our sense of forgiveness will generate an equally deep sense of gratitude. To the extent we think we are entitled to blessing from God, we will demand it from Him and not love Him in response. To the extent we appreciate His grace extended to us when we did not deserve it, we will love Him with a depth of response in appreciation for what God has done.
I love this passage. It flows with God’s acceptance and love for those who will turn to Him. I tell a modern version of Jesus’ story to illustrate it. Imagine you have a mortgage that you cannot pay. The lender calls and says, “We need to have a talk.”
So you go into the lender. He asks where the payments are, and you tell him you cannot pay. His response is that the institution will have to do something about this lack of response. You know what is coming. You are about to lose your house.
Only the lender does something surprising. He reaches into his desk and begins to write. He hands you the mortgage and a check. He tells you to take the check and give it to the clerk to cash it. He has just paid your mortgage. You are free to go with the house now fully yours. Undeserved, your debt is paid. Now if that happened, I bet you’d be grateful to that lender. In fact, I bet you’d be willing to tell others about your great lender.
That is the grace of God in the gospel we have been describing.
The reality of what God is offering is even more powerful than my illustration. We are invited to sit at the table in God’s house with His love, power, and protection surrounding us. That offer of new life and relationship with God is the gospel. That relationship, rooted in God’s love and everlasting in duration, is what Christianity is all about. That gospel is what the church is called to preach—and to live. It is a message we need to recover and share with a tone that reflects the love and reconciliation that motivates it because it is a testimony to the wonderful and deep love of God for us.
Embrace it in faith and share it with others. It is a story of good news worth telling. You never know. Maybe by telling the story, you will end up recovering more than the gospel.
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