The Bride of Christ can be likened to a woman, a known sinner, arriving unexpectedly at a banquet held by a respected religious leader. Entering unannounced, her eyes quickly scan the room for one face, the face of Jesus Christ. At first few notice her uninvited intrusion, caught up as they are in conversation and merriment. Before long, however, voices are lowered to indignant whispers as her presence becomes apparent to every guest. The host fumes under his breath. How did this immoral gatecrasher gain entry to his exclusive party? Which servant should be blamed for this unacceptable situation? Jesus, however, is neither surprised or offended by her presence.
Sinnerwoman, as we will call her, is mostly oblivious to the atmosphere rising around her for she is focused only on what she has come to do. For some time now, she and her friends have seen Jesus walking and teaching among the people. She has wondered greatly about this Man unlike any man she has ever met, whose words have revived in her a hope she thought long dead and buried. Even from a distance He makes her feel safe in a way that is foreign, yet strangely comforting to her. She has so many questions. Can her life really change and can He help her change it? Would He even allow a woman like her to come near Him, let alone speak with Him? Today word has spread among her crowd that Jesus is guest of honour at the house of the Pharisee. Quietly slipping away from the other women, she has dared to seize this moment, and nothing will deter her. Averting her eyes from a room full of glaring faces she quickens her pace towards the object of her desire.
We see her now, falling awkwardly at Jesus’ feet. She tries to speak but finds herself overwhelmed, voiceless in His Presence. Instead, choking sobs rise in her throat, breaking uncontrollably out of her wrenching body as she kneels before Him. Great pools form in her eyes, spilling down like torrents onto his unwashed feet. Liquid salt mingles freely with brown earth as her falling tears meet the sweat and dirt of His journey. Taking the posture of a servant she wipes away the mixture of water and grime with handfuls of her own hair. Speechless still, she reaches for a small vial of perfume hidden in her tunic and breaks it open, pouring it lavishly upon His feet. As its exotic fragrance permeates the room she continues to anoint Him, simultaneously kissing His feet adoringly, not daring to look up until every last drop has been emptied upon Him. At last, spent, Sinnerwoman raises her tear stained face hesitantly. The welcoming eyes of the One she has anointed meet with hers, His smile of approval speaking more than words. Sinnerwoman has been received by Love personified.
An indignant hum of murmuring voices rises around the room but none dare speak openly. Simon, the host, cannot conceal what many are thinking. That a holy man sent by God would allow any woman to touch Him, let alone this ‘Sinnerwoman’, was impossible and offensive in the extreme. Therefore this so called ‘prophet’ could not know the nature of this woman’s occupation. How then could He be a prophet?
“Simon, I have something to say to you”, the voice of Jesus breaks the silence. “….There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore which of them will love him more?”
Love Him more? Is that what He wants? Really? Is it not enough to love Jesus? Must He demand that we love Him more?
“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He asked His friend and disciple Simon Peter beside Lake Tiberius. Twice more the question came, until Peter, confused and indignant, insisted that he did (John 21:15-17). Another man came running, kneeling before Him, seemingly ready to follow any commandment Jesus would give. Any, that is, except “….. come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Poignantly, we are told “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him”, but the man turned away (Mark 10:21).
We will probably never know how many love Jesus but don’t love Him “more”. Jesus is easy to love, but He’s not easy to follow.
Can it be true that a prostitute might love Jesus more than a man of the cloth? Is it conceivable that a thief or a murderer might enter the Kingdom of God more easily than a learned theologian? (Matthew 21:31). Dare we believe that the Bride of Christ simply consists of those who love Him MORE?
The lesson ‘Sinnerwoman’ teaches us is exactly that. She leads us on the Bride’s journey: separation from the crowd, the pursuit of the Beloved, counting the cost, the dying to all things past, finally to discover the Bridegroom is glorious beyond anything she had been told of Him, then to live only for, through and in Him in extravagant, sold out, unashamed, scandalous worship. (Luke 7:36-50)
“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little”.
Two debtors, both forgiven, but one loved Him more. Is it enough simply to enjoy the Bridegroom’s company, or does Bridehood constitute something more costly? Many are called, few are chosen.