Love Founded On Forgiveness

Love Founded On Forgiveness

Love Founded on Forgiveness 

(How much do you love Jesus?)

(Reading Luke 7:36-50)

“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, 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. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 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. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 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. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)


As a gospel message, today’s study though not intended fits somewhat into our Faith [The key to Joy] series. After all our faith journey begins at salvation and the forgiveness of sin. And continues as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Out of this ought to come a deepening of our love for him…accompanied by greater obedience. 

The title of today’s message: Love Founded on Forgiveness 

As we read this passage, we should be probed by some uncomfortable questions. These are questions that we all need to ask ourselves…

Scripture is amazing in this respect because it doesn’t sugar-coat sin and the faults of those written about. 

We frequently have 2 opposites juxtaposed within a given text. It does this that we might see things in ourselves that we need to change

Two examples that come to mind:

Cain and Abel

Jacob and Esau

Today’s passage should greatly challenge our values and belief systems and hopefully [and ultimately] causes us to think deeply about and even question the depth of our love for the Lord. 

This is what makes this passage so noteworthy and probably a favourite of many believers. 

Our 4 points today are:

Love Sought through Opportunity 

Love Substantiated through Sacrifice 

Love Shown through Service 

Love Founded on Forgiveness 

Before getting into our 4 points today let me give you an overview of our passage:

We see:

Jesus is invited to a meal at the house of a Pharisee named Simon. 

A certain woman also attends; bringing an alabaster box containing ointment. She proceeds to stand behind Jesus; washing  his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. 

She breaks open the box containing the ointment and anoints his feet.

We are given an insight into the heart of Simon the Pharisee, who reasons that if Jesus was a prophet he would have known that this woman was a sinner. 

[I actually find this reminiscent of  the words of Satan during Christ’s temptation in the wilderness: “If you truly are the Son of God”. Remember Jesus says that the Pharisees are of their father the devil. 

Jesus then proceeds to give Simon an illustration which makes the point of praising the woman’s actions and explains perfectly the motivation behind them.

[Keep your finger in the text]

Let’s Pray 

Love Sought Through Opportunity:

“And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment…Luke 7:37”

Through no coincidence, this woman was in the right place at the right time. And she made the most of her opportunity to meet Christ. 

She had obviously heard of Christ and the things that he had done. And It’s reasonable to suggest that she might have heard him speak. 

Scripture tells us to seek the Lord while he may be found…and this woman knew exactly where to find the Lord. 

What’s more is that she came prepared with a box of ointment. She wasn’t coming just out of curiosity or to see some miracle…she came with intent. 

From our story it’s hard to know the exact point at which the woman receives forgiveness…as it isn’t confirmed to her until the end of the passage.

Nevertheless, she came with intent and possibly: 


If we look at the story of our own conversion…I’m sure there were conscious decisions made, in our quest to seek and to find the Lord and receive forgiveness. 

Should it be any different now…or


Seeking the Lord for wisdom

Seeking the Lord’s will for our lives

Seeking the Lord for forgiveness and sanctification 

Seeking the Lord for answers to prayer

We must be seeking the Lord daily. 

Just as the blessings for this woman were eternal…so will they be for us. 

Love Substantiated Through Sacrifice:

“…brought an alabaster box of ointment,”  Luke 7:37

The first thing we see in our passage today is the lengths to which this “certain woman” was prepared to go to in order to demonstrate her love for Jesus. 

Jesus indeed challenges us in the gospels to count the cost of following him. 

What lengths are we prepared to go…? And what are we prepared to give up in order to follow Christ? 

What are we prepared to sacrifice? 

Our time?

Our finances?

Our relationships?

Our worldly reputation?

Obviously its not things per se but our heart’s attitude [or affection] towards them. 

As for sacrifice we read:

“For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17)

There’s an indication in a similar [yet different] account that such ointment had significant value. In giving of her substance, she obviously places great value on Christ and his ability to forgive her sins. 


We shouldn’t think for a moment that she was attempting to buy the Lord’s love and forgiveness. THE LORD LOOKS ON THE HEART

True love understands that: You CANNOT put a price on love:

“… if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”  Song of Solomon 8:7

The word contemned means to regard with contempt or to despise, disregard, or loathe. 


Ironically, we are God’s purchased possession. We’ve been bought with the precious blood of Jesus.  

One thing that possibly isn’t tangible [in our story] is the potential humiliation that this woman was prepared to endure. Yet we know that she was labelled a sinner by the Pharisee (at least internally): 

“Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, 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

I’m sure that she would have felt the stares. The Pharisee was ready to condemn the woman:

Note that Jesus was guilty by association.

Whilst the Pharisee was ready to condemn the woman, we know that Christ came not to condemn the world but that through him, the world might be saved. 

What strikes me about this story is this:

One thing we don’t see in this story is a woman MADE to jump through hoops and perform a series of complex tasks such as sacraments or penance to receive forgiveness. 

One thing we don’t see is a woman made to sit through a bible college course to gain a qualification before she is forgiven and consequently accepted by Christ. 

One thing that we don’t see in this story is a 12 step program for the woman to complete in order to be made whole:


Rather than facilitating wholeness [and sanctification] they actually steer the participant away from the one who is able to make you perfect through his word. 

What does Paul say in regards to his own personal struggle with sin:

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Romans 7:25

The sad reality is that all these programs do is to rehabilitate the flesh rather than crucify it. 

I’ve actually challenged people in regards to these programs; suggesting that as believers all we need areCORRECT DOCTRINES and the WORD of God. Sadly people would rather follow some gimmick designed to excite them about God instead of following sound doctrine.


“Whatever works for you”. 


Is a woman prepared to forsake all and seek the Lord. And in the process receives the forgiveness of sin. This is something of immeasurable value and which cost her NOTHING in comparison to the gift of eternal life: 

It is by grace we are saved. It is a GIFT

This is perfectly expressed in the hymn “Rock of Ages”: 

“In my hand no price I bring, simply to your cross I cling”. 


Is a woman who was prepared to risk potential and actual ridicule and who essentially was ridiculed by the Pharisee [and those present] in order to express her love for the Saviour. 


Is a woman who understood the SIMPLICITY which is in Christ.


In terms of potential humiliation [and this applies to us all]:

“…Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”  Romans 10:11

This begs the question then:


As I said earlier: Jesus asks us all to count the cost of following him:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26

Jesus isn’t advocating hate, of course: what he is saying is that our love for him must exceed our love for others… and even our love for own lives also. 

Further to this we have the commandment:

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  1John 2:15

Just as there is perfect love within the trinity: 


Love for the world is contrary to our love for God. 

Jesus also told us:


This is exactly the response that the woman received from the Pharisee 

In following the Lord we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices and yield ourselves unto God as instruments of righteousness. 

It is only in doing so that we fully enjoy OUR new life in Christ: 

As it was for this woman, so it is for all who come to Christ: the sacrifice becomes irrelevant when you realize that there is nowhere else to go:


Love Shown Through Service:

“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. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.” Luke 7:44-46

We all know the first commandment:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

“…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Luke 4:8)

We are commanded to love God and we can’t escape this fact. It is this commandment which defines our devotion and service to the Lord. Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments.

We are:



What we see in our story is a woman committed to obeying this commandment through an act of service 

It is no coincidence that Jesus challenges our love for him and uses money and material objects as a tangible example of worth. We saw this in regards to the potential cost of the ointment and also the forgiveness of debt being equated with sin. 

Jesus understands the potential of material things to draw our hearts away from him when he said that you cannot serve two masters [God and mammon].

One thing we do know is this:

Serving God is the result of a transformed heart: 

[Turn to]

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:15-18)

We have a choice:

Serve self and sin


Serve God and righteousness

In our text we see that it was was the woman’s desire to please and to serve the Lord. 

And based on this, she acted accordingly. 

The bible teaches that we ought to bring deeds meet [suitable, appropriate] for repentance

And that it is godly sorrow which leads to repentance. 

In other words, by our actions we demonstrate that we have had a change of heart regarding sin. 

Just to clarify this: we don’t do deeds to GAIN forgiveness but rather BECAUSE of the forgiveness received. It should be our natural response to do those things which demonstrate that we are indeed forgiven. 

We can put it this another way:

Faith without works is dead and this woman showed her faith by her works.

In acknowledging the woman’s actions

Jesus says:

“…thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace” Luke 7:50

Within the text we see the quality of her love and devotion to the Lord….. 

At the same time we see the ACTIONS of “the certain woman” contrasted with the INACTION of Pharisee:

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. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Luke 7:44-46

From what we see, the inaction of Simon, shows a total disregard for the Lord and in particular who he is and what he was able to do [i.e. forgive sins]. Even as a host he showed zero hospitality. 

As we examine the actions of this woman, AGAIN the one thing we notice in this story:


The position of servant automatically places her below her Lord. 

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” (John 13:16)

The Lord Jesus himself is our example of humility:

He demonstrated this is two ways. Firstly when he washed the disciples feet. 

And by his death on the cross

“…being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)


When it comes to our personal SERVICE towards God: 

Psalm 37 tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and HE will give us the desires of our heart. In other words, when we spend time with the Lord, his desires become our desires. 


When the Lord changes our hearts the lusts [desires] of our flesh will diminish. 

One thing is certain in this story, when examining our motives [both individually and as a church] is Jesus ought to be central to all we do. 

The apostle Paul said that whatever you do in word or deed, do it as unto the Lord. We realize also that we are his workmanship created in Jesus unto good works that we should walk in them. 

[We’ll deal with motive in our next point]


If Christ isn’t at the centre of our acts of service, as in our text today…the danger is portraying another Jesus and another gospel.

We know all too well the dangers of a social justice gospel; a Christ-less gospel is no gospel at all. And those that follow this are accumulating for themselves: wood hay and stubble and NOT laying up for themselves, treasures in heaven.

In giving to the poor and visiting those in prison it is spiritual poverty that we need to be addressing and it is the prison house of sin that people need to be freed from. 

This brings us back to the first commandment and probably the reason Jesus reminded his disciples when they asked. Remember also, that the Pharisees had the people jumping through hoops; teaching as commandments, the traditions of men. 

It is pretty simple theology really.

Love Founded on Forgiveness:

“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.”  Luke 7:47

The illustration that Jesus uses in our passage today, centres around money and the forgiveness of debt. This is something tangible and easily understood. 

In today’s society, I don’t think we fully appreciate the nature and consequence of being in significant debt; especially when banks through their greed entice their customers to put themselves in greater and greater debt [as if it’s normal]. 

If you add to this understanding the fact that it is through debt that banks have actually made their wealth then you realize why the concept of un-payable debt is lost on a world that is in such a condition 

[Trust me I have used this illustration to no avail]. 

In today’s society you can declare yourself  bankrupt and virtually get off “Scott free”. Whereas in biblical times you could “sell yourself” to a master and work for him until the debt was paid. 

When [AND ONLY WHEN] you have a biblical understanding of debt, you can fully appreciate the illustration that Jesus is using. 

Jesus’ illustration and example has deeper implications of course and it seamlessly transitions to a lesson on the forgiveness of sin. 

Put simply: “The wages or payment for sin is death” and the only way to repay the debt is through death: the death of yourself; spiritually

 Or in the case of the believer: the substitutionary death of Jesus. 

It is only when a person understands his own spiritual impoverishment that he can fully understand the predicament that he is in and the cost required to attain that forgiveness.

The bible tells us:

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  1Corinthians 6:20

And it is only when we truly understand our predicament and the price that the Lord was prepared to pay. It’s only then that the free gift of salvation can be received and truly appreciated. 


John Newton hit the nail on the head: 

 “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed”. 

We could talk about the grace of God for all eternity and still be at pains to explain it.

Nevertheless it is pretty sad that our Lord has to compare the infinite and unsearchable riches of God’s grace with finite material things. The grace of God is not something we can see or measure; it is the invisible things of God which are eternal.

Jesus’ conclusion that those who are forgiven much, do love much is  perfectly summed up in John’s epistle and also shows God’s willingness to forgive.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1John 4:10



Such is the power of God’s forgiveness as the woman’s response clearly demonstrates.


There are three central themes running through our text today…

LOVE: The love of God and love for God

FORGIVENESS: The forgiveness of God and forgiveness toward our fellow man. It is in knowing God’s forgiveness that we ought to and are able forgive others. 

SERVICE: Which ought to be motivated by the love and forgiveness of God through our Lord and Saviour. . 

So…the question 


This was the charge laid to the church at Ephesus; a church which hated evil and by all accounts, did many good things. 

They had their doctrines down-pat and they were bold in professing the truth.

They were exposing darkness as was the exhortation given to Timothy [the first pastor of Ephesus]

They exhibited many fine character traits such as patience, perseverance and courage; labouring and fainting not. 


Without expounding the whole of that passage in Revelation 2:1-7: 

We have to acknowledge the seriousness of the warning: which was to remove the candlestick from the church. This is to say that they would no longer be regarded as a church. 

If we don’t have a church [so to speak] what do we have then? 

A room full of people, professing to be Christians, doing Christian “stuff” [going through the motions as it were] and making absolutely NO difference in the lives of the brethren or the community at large. 

This would be UNTHINKABLE!!



That is: read your bible and spend time with the Lord in prayer.

Before I conclude this message, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that love for God is some romantic notion or feeling; because it certainly is not. This is not to say that there is not a certain emotion attached to our relationship with the Lord. It is a relationship after all. 

First and foremost our love for Jesus is demonstrated and proved through obedience and not a feeling as he so plainly says:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

Love is an action…

Prior to salvation the bible states that the unbeliever is an enemy of God and so it makes perfect sense that if man is to love God then he needs a change of heart. 

Before coming to Christ we didn’t even know who God was let alone love him. It is only through the atoning death of Jesus; upon accepting this sacrifice as the payment for our sins, the sinner is unblinded and able to see who God is and therefore to love him.  

Unbeliever: your first act of obedience needs to be to the gospel. 


Those who are born of God keep the commandments and they are not grievous to him. When you love someone, you don’t do it begrudgingly. 

When Jesus puts the challenge to Simon in regards to being forgiven: 

The obvious question which comes out of this passage is:

How much have I been forgiven?

The obvious answer is that we have been forgiven more than we can know. 

Hopefully, through the knowledge of our transgressions, sin had become “exceeding sinful” 

This is why we turn to Christ for forgiveness of those sins.  

You must realize that the infinite debt incurred because of sin is only payable by a sacrifice of infinite worth: 

 The death of our Lord on the cross

The next obvious question which comes out of this passage is:

How much do you love God? 

Is it directly proportional to the realization of your sin debt and God’s forgiveness towards you.

The promise to the church in Ephesus:





Leave a Reply