This was a common term used in our house as kids. When we saw something we wanted, we always thought if we put it on layaway, we might be able to get it by Christmas. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s something offered by a store which allows you to pick out an item or items and they will hold them for you, allowing you to make payments until you have it paid in full. And if you didn’t pay it, you lost it.
Let’s say one family has 4 children and has $500 worth of items to be paid for. And another family has $50 worth. When both families go to make their routine payment, they discover that someone has already paid it in full and it’s theirs to take home.
Which do you think would be more grateful?
Jesus used this example as He demonstrated forgiveness.
“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 I read this account, I try to visualize what this scene and this woman would have looked like.
I close my eyes and I see her. She’s just heard about Jesus being at the Pharisee’s home. At first, it’s a timid look on her face, as she debates whether or not she should go. But then, there she is, quietly coming through the doorway to kneel at His feet that are stretched out behind Him.
Her hair is blonde. Her eyes, though filled with humility and tears, are a deep blue. She so desperately seeks the forgiveness for her sins that so many others have received. She believes He is the one that can do it and even if He doesn’t, He is still worthy to be honored and praised.
She notices His feet are dirty. Do these men not know who this is? They offer Him food but have not offered the honor of cleansing His feet. She kneels and immediately the tears pour from her eyes. Just to be at His feet. She takes her hair and uses it to wash away the dirt from His travels. And then she remembers the ointment. Her alabaster box. Something so valuable that could provide a great deal for her, but she chooses to pour it over His feet, anointing Him.
She has much to be forgiven.
I can’t help but picture myself as this woman. Not because I have done anything so noble and honorable for Jesus, but because of her sins, my sins.
She casts her pride and her past away as she falls at the feet of Jesus in worship. Others look on thinking “if He were truly a prophet, He would know who Yalanda is and how unworthy she is to be here, to touch Him.”
And yet, He responds “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.”
Jesus stands before you now. What will you do? Will you cast aside the pride that keeps you standing tall, chest puffed out? Will you believe that He can forgive all that you’ve done? Will you fall at His feet in humility and beg for forgiveness? Will you honor Him with all you have?
Or will cast your eyes at those who do with disdain and disgust? Will you ridicule and belittle them?
We are all sinners. We owe a great debt because of our sin. One that we cannot pay. But Jesus has paid that debt in full for us and offers it to us as a gift. In order to receive it, we have to acknowledge who He is and what He has done for us. In return for this beautiful gift of forgiveness, we submit our lives to Him and His authority and will, not our own.
The choice is yours today.