“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much . . . .” Luke 7:47 (Revised Standard Translation)
The depth of this woman’s love for the Lord and His for her, amazes me. It’s a love that loves each of us as though there was only one of us. It’s a love that loves sinners, lepers, and prostitutes the same, and offers forgiveness not by the measure of our sin, but the measure of our love. What a great love this woman had for our Lord — what a devoted and faithful follower. According to Biblical accounts, she became well-known during Jesus’ last days. She accompanied Him during his travels and followed Him to the end. And throughout the Gospels, not only are we permitted to see her many sins, but also Jesus’ love for her, in spite of them.
Curiously in this particular Scripture, Jesus is sharing a meal at the home of Simon the Leper, but He does not speak of lepers or prostitutes, or even sin, but rather, He declares the significance of forgiveness and love. To the best of my knowledge, Simon the Leper is never mentioned again outside of this story, but accounts record this woman as being Blessed to witness Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and empty tomb. And most notably, as the first to witness His’ first post-resurrection appearance (John 20:16 and Mark 16).
I am well aware of the many interpretations and scholarly discussions about Mary Magdalene‘s life, lifestyle, and relationship with Jesus. But one thing is undeniably true — she truly loved the Lord and seized every opportunity to worship Him in spite of the opinions of others. The perfume of the Alabaster Box (worth a year’s wages) was her deepest expression of love for the One who had done so much for her. After all, what is the price of forgiveness? What is the value of love? It seemed when in His presence, she could not help but worship Him because she understood — (He) alone knew the true worth of the perfumed oil — (He) alone knew the depth of her “gift of love.” And (they) alone knew:
A bell is no bell ’til you ring it,
A song is no song ’til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay
Love isn’t love
Til you give it away.
~Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, “You are Sixteen (Reprise)” (Anonymous writer)
In the words of Alexander Pope, “To err is human, but to forgive is Divine.” Love well–God has shown us how!!