Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home.

Couples who have a strong sense of unity with each other preserve it by offering forgiveness even before it is asked. Because they realize how much they have been forgiven, it is not difficult to extend it. If the wound is deep and painful, however, forgiveness may be very difficult. It may take time for the fruits of repentance to be demonstrated (Lk 3:8). But forgiveness must be accomplished before there can be restoration and unity.

What effect can realizing my need for forgiveness have on my marriage relationship and my ability to love my spouse fully?  Please read Luke 7:36-50 thoroughly, and notice the characters and what was said.

Here we see Jesus having a meal at Simon the Pharisee‘s home. An immoral woman walks in and begins a shocking display of emotion and worship. Typical of the Pharisee in all of us, Simon feels uncomfortable. Does he feel ashamed at his own lack of love for Jesus, as he should? It didn‘t even occur to him, as it perhaps wouldn‘t to us. Instead, Simon compares himself with this woman and with Jesus, and comes out quite favorably. The woman is a sinner, Jesus is a fool, while Simon is both wise and righteous. But what does Jesus think? Jesus uses different mathematics and comes up with a different value. Jesus says that all Simon‘s righteous living does not outweigh his lack of love for Jesus! The woman‘s love and humble repentance outweighs all of Simon‘s uprightness. The central, disturbing question of my life is this: How much do I love Jesus? ‘Which one of these characters do you resemble?

  • Lukewarm Simon
  • The deeply feeling woman who knows she needs forgiveness
  • The other guests who immediately turned their thoughts toward evaluating Jesus‘ right to forgive Sins

Neither the guests nor Simon rightly respond by repenting of their own weak love. If any of us thinks that we can impress Jesus with our right living or right doctrine alone, we are in for a rude shock when we meet him at the judgment seat of Christ. This story must help us to realize that our lukewarm, calculating hearts don‘t love God or others the way we should. Our only hope is to throw ourselves on Him and cry out, God be merciful to me, a sinner! As we have seen, He has a soft spot in His heart for sinners who humble themselves.  So, what if this were a good woman instead of an immoral one? This scene is similar to one told in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-7. The second scene occurs shortly before Jesus‘ death.

This time, the principle player is Mary of Bethany. No doubt, Mary had heard or seen the actions of the prostitute earlier. Now Mary is overwhelmed with her thoughts of what Jesus says will happen to Him very soon (Mk 10:33-34). The disciples have just heard Him say that He is going to Jerusalem to be tortured and to die, but they seem to be on another planet, for all the comfort that they are showing to Jesus in His final hours! They are squabbling about who will be the greatest in the kingdom (Mk 10:37, 41).  But Mary can think only of Him. What can she do? She gets a liter bottle of nard perfume and kneels at His feet. She sat at His feet before, we remember, to listen and learn from Him while Martha cooked (Lk 10:40). She knelt there once again when her brother Lazarus died (Jn 11:32). But after Lazarus‘ resurrection, she has come to a new understanding of Jesus.  He is not just her rabbi, teacher, He is the Lord of life!

She begins to daub His head and feet with a whole pound (half a kilo) of the wildly expensive myrrh spikenard, a sticky mixture of resin and scent. This is the kind of perfume that people used to anoint a corpse as the first step of embalming, or to anoint a priest for entering the holy place (Lev 21:10). If you have smelled oil-based perfume, you know how rich even a few drops are, and this was a half kilo! John says that the scent saturated the room. As the sinner woman did months or even years before, Mary wipes Jesus‘ feet with her hair (Jn 12:3) and offers complete devotion to her Lord.

The text says the nard was worth  a year‘s wages. How would Mary have possessed such an expensive gift? As far as she is concerned, Jesus is worth everything. The anointing and wiping with her hair is the most expressive thing that she can think of to show that her own need of forgiveness is as great as the immoral woman’s had been, to prepare Jesus’s body for His work as priest and for His coming death.

As before, there is someone handy to criticize Mary. This time it is not Simon the Pharisee, but Judas who protested, What a waste of money!  Hours later, Jesus follows Mary‘s example of humility and reveals the depths of His love as He kneels at the disciples‘ feet to wash them (Jn 13:5).

Our marriages were designed to picture Christ and the church. Do we give ourselves fully to seeking reconciliation and expressing love with our whole hearts as Mary and Jesus portray in these passages? Or, do we hang back and criticize extravagant expressions of love as wasteful?

Having cancer showed me that no matter whether you have days, months, or years left together with your spouse, the time is short.  Looking back, your deep expressions of love may seem like the most important things that you did in your marriage.


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