May 25th

Today’s lectionary reading, Luke 7.36–50, has acquired a subtitle in many Bible translations about a “sinful woman”. Perhaps you know it as “Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman” or “A Sinful Woman Forgiven”. These editors are wrong. It is not so much about sin or forgiveness or even about the woman. It revolves around our response to Jesus’ parable in verses 41–42:

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” (NRSV). I am sure we would join with Simon the Pharisee in answering, “the one who was forgiven more”.

The story of the “sinful” woman is really about her response to having her sins forgiven. Her response is extravagant, over the top – she weeps and washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, anoints them with perfume. Jesus has accepted this woman back into the community of God’s people and she loves him for doing so. She expresses that love in the best way she knows how.

Jesus comes to us forgiving sins, bringing good news to the poor, healing to the sick, freedom for the oppressed, proclaiming the possibility of a world transformed into the Kingdom of God. Think about what he has done for you, your family, your neighbours, your church, those you have only heard about.

How do you want to show your love for Jesus, for what he has done? Sing, pray, give, testify, clap, do something extravagant for him today.

Ian Waddington