Like an X-ray reveals a tumor but can’t remove it, so Moses’ law and the commandments reveal our sin problem but can’t fix it. Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised Galatians 3:19 (NLT). How then should Christians relate to the law?
Since the law shows us where we fall short of God’s glory and holy standard, we can either feel bad about falling short of God’s perfect holiness or we can glory in our wonderful Savior who took the death penalty we earned and gave us His righteousness. God prefers the latter (Romans 8:1)! Luke 7:36-50 illustrates this point.
During Jesus’ earthly life, a religious leader invited Him to dinner. A disreputable woman heard that Jesus was there and came bringing perfumed ointment. As she quietly knelt behind Jesus, her tears rolled down her cheeks onto His feet. No doubt embarrassed, she kept wiping His feet with her hair and kissing them while rubbing them with perfume.
Simon, repulsed by this display from such a woman, began to judge Jesus, “If this man were a prophet He would know what sort of woman this is who is touching Him.”
Jesus answered Simon’s thoughts with a story about a moneylender who forgave two people who owed him money they could not repay. One owed a year and a half’s wages, the other a month and a half’s wages. The moneylender graciously forgave both of these men the debt they were unable to pay. Jesus looked Simon in the eye, “Which of them will love him more?”
“I suppose the one forgiven the most” Simon shrugged. “You are right,” Jesus replied. “Simon, you did not offer me the common curtesy of water to refresh my weary feet. You gave Me, your guest, no warm greeting. Yet this woman has washed my feet with her tears and not stopped kissing them. Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven. Whoever has been forgiven much, loves much; whoever is forgiven little, loves little.”
Was Simon’s love limited because he had lived a righteous life or because he was blind to his sin? Simon had missed the point of the commandments. He focused on how he compared with the woman not how he measured up to God’s law of love. As Jesus’ words and life reveal God’s holy standard of consistent, unconditional love (see Matthew 5-7), our lack of real love is exposed. I am the one who has been forgiven much. The law reveals our indebtedness and need for Jesus to live and love through us. Understanding our great debt helps us better appreciate the grace we have. Grace not to live under the law (Romans 6:14), but to stand by faith in Christ’s righteousness. Then like the woman in this story, we too will love much.
Take a moment and worship with this song and video: In Christ Alone
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Ann Johnson says
Wow! Guilty as charged, yet I praise my redeemer. Thanks, Debbie.