Read: Luke 7:36-50; Jude 1:24-25
It has been quite some time since I have heard their advertisement on the radio. That is, until I heard it, once again, a few nights ago. The commercial was for "Reputation Defender". This organization exists, according to what they say about themselves, to help those who have been harmed by untruths on the Internet. They say that they will use algorithms so that harmful and untrue information about a person will appear deep into the Internet search process, where people will be less likely to view it. Right up front, I want to say that I don't know whether or not this organization has a good reputation. I know only what they say about themselves. I also know that there have been good people who have been harmed by misleading or false postings on the Internet; so, if the pain caused by untruths can be lessened, it is a good thing.
There are two precious things the Bible says about God concerning truth.
First, we serve and love a God Who cannot lie, Titus 1:2.
Second, the Lord's knowledge about each of us is unlimited, Psalm 139:1-12.
Even if we could place information about ourselves far into the algorithms where no person could ever locate it, God would know every detail about each of us, and that is a very precious truth. Why is that kind of knowledge so wonderful? Praise God! It is because the One Who knows us to the uttermost has set His love upon us. His arms are outstretched, just as they were for the prodigal in Luke 15:20. That son was welcomed by the Father when he admitted his need for what only the Father could offer him. He discovered that the Father's love was far richer and far more encompassing than he had imagined when he thought about what he might say to Him. The response the prodigal received was a beautiful portrait of God's forgiveness.
In Luke 7:36-50, we see Jesus demonstrating this kind of love toward a woman who had lived a sinful life. The beautiful thing about this incident is that Jesus defended this lady. He did that by not glossing over her sin. He didn't say that her lifestyle wasn't so bad or try to pretend she was really pretty good. Instead, He pointed out her love for Him. Let's imagine what it might have been like that day: Jesus had been invited to dinner by a religious leader. This man whose name was Simon, hadn't extended the common courtesies of the day toward the Master. He had not seen to it that Jesus' feet were washed, nor had he offered fragrant oil for Jesus' head. He hadn't extended respect toward the Lord, not to mention love. Enter a woman whose reputation was bad. Simon was surely affronted when Jesus permitted this lady to touch Him and wipe His feet with her unbound hair. Those acts of what Jesus knew to be love were reprehensible to Simon. He believed that no one who called Himself a prophet would permit such things. All that he could see was the unworthiness of this woman and that Jesus hadn't reacted in the way Simon thought was appropriate. He couldn't see past her reputation, and he looked at her with contempt because of it. Notice how Jesus honored this woman. He let Simon and all of those within earshot know that they were correct about the depth of her sinfulness; however, He also made it clear that her own knowledge of her sin had highlighted, in her thinking, the depth of the forgiveness she had received. Because of that, she unashamedly displayed her love for Jesus. It seems likely that she would have known that she wouldn't be received with joy by many who were at Simon's table; yet, she came with boldness. Not brashness! She wanted the Lord to know how much she loved Him. Jesus knew the debts that both Simon and this lady had, but only she understood the love Jesus offered. She had seen her need for the freedom of forgiveness that only Jesus could provide. She alone recognized that she had a debt she could never pay. Isn't it precious truth that Jesus didn't hide the sins of this woman because His love for her was her Defender. She could leave with joy because she was completely known by the Savior and completely loved.
As it was true concerning Paul, the forgiveness lavished on this woman by the Lord was a platform that displayed His grace, 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Their reputations were very different, but the forgiveness they received was a reason they experienced great joy.
The good news is that this joy is for any of us who will see our need of forgiveness and run to Jesus. If someone like Simon brings up our unworthiness, may we remind ourselves that our unworthiness is a springboard to tell others about God's grace. The joy we have because of what Jesus has given us begins now and will be present when we stand before Him. Cleansed and filled with joy because of His grace, Jude 1:24-25.
He is our Defender Who has given us His righteousness as a beautiful covering instead of our sin, Isaiah 61:10.