Luke 7:36-50: A Forgiven Sinner’s Love for Christ
When do you know if someone is truly a Christian? This can be a difficult question to answer for on the one hand you and I cannot read the heart of another and so will always have an imperfect ability to make a judgement. However, there is also a call in scripture for us to evaluate a person’s credible confession of faith. The true test of someone’s faith is not the amount of religiosity they indulge in, a person can go to church a lot and not be saved; the amount of theologically correct doctrine we have, for some are blessed with a photographic memory and a head for facts but have no heart for Christ; nor the amount of good works we do, there are many socially active people who love their neighbour but have no love for God; but our love for Christ which is evident in the service we render to Him and others. Love for Christ is the true test. Some might be able to fake the actions that usually flow from love and pull the wool over our eyes for a while, but the true test is the love that is evident in our loves because of the grace of forgiveness we have received.
This test will help us navigate the next portion before us. This next section in Luke 7:36-50 focuses on 2 people, a sinful woman and a religious man. This story flows on the heels of the previous passage where Jesus was talking about two types of responses to God’s messengers, those who saw their sin and repented and those who were self-righteous and did not. The last section ended with a proverb, that wisdom will be justified by all her children. This section is rolled out as an example of someone who have heard the truth of God’s messengers and believed it and gives a true response of love to God, and this is contrasted with the self-righteous religious person who has rejected God’s message and who shows the bankruptcy of his religion by his loveless for Christ and sinners. This woman is a child of the truth/wisdom and shows it by her love for Christ.
This is an important section because it demonstrates the clear difference between how false religion and Christ receive sinners. But not only that it puts front and centre how faith expressed in love is the heart of true religion. Added to that it sets forth forgiveness as the heart and fuel for our love and service of Christ.
As we look at this portion we will explore it under two headings, we want to look at v36-39 looking at how these two different sinners respond to Christ; then in v40-50 we want to look at how Christ responds to these two sinners.