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Here we have a very simple but profound biblical maxim, an eternal truth consisting of a command that is followed by a promise. In this construction, the preceding requirement necessarily leads to the concluding promise. These two components form a coherent whole, an indivisible entity comprising the inseparable union of the divine imperative and indicative.

In order to understand the significance of this verse we must take note of its context. This Davidic psalm is an exhortation for God’s covenant people who are undergoing trials and troubles in life to avoid being disheartened by the puzzling prosperity of the wicked. It admonishes the people of God to shun discouragement by this apparent unfairness and to trust in the righteous protection of God. Accordingly, this Psalm begins with a very pointed and emphatic command: “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” v. 1. Its meaning is that the people of God must not burn with envy at the success of the wicked, cf. Pro 23:17; 24:19, because as the next verse states, “..they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” That is, their success is short-lived and superficial, one that is quickly ended when the harsh conditions of life return. The third verseprovides us with a sound contrast: instead of envying the wicked we are to conduct our lives by trusting in the Lord alone and to pasture or cultivate an enduring sense of faithfulness to him alone. Now comes our verse which seems to be the climax of the preceding three: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” v. 4. Given our brief analysis of the psalm thus far, what does this verse require?

In the first place it requires us to shift our gaze from the wicked to the Lord God himself. In so doing, we are to observe him in the excellence of his attributes, the external manifestation of his own glory. For example, we are to remember that he is glorious in himself and in all his deeds, Ex 40: 34-35; 15:6, 11; Ps 78:4; etc. We are to continuously embrace the truth that God is perfect, that is to say, he is complete and faultless, super-abounding in all that is good. Inherent in him is his just and moral perfection, "The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Dt 32:4; see also Pss 18:25-26; 25:8; etc. In addition, the Lord God is perfect in his: works, Dt 32:4; 2 Sam 22:31; Pss 139:14; 145:4-6; Jer 32:19-20; etc.; will, Ps 9:7-11; Rom 12:2; word, Pss 12:6; 18:30; 19:7; etc.; knowledge, Job 37:16; Pss 139:1-6; 147:5; etc.; faithfulness, Ex 34:6; Dt 7:9; 32:4; etc.; love, 1 Jn 3:1; 4:8-12, 16-19. The creature cannot grasp the full import of the divine perfection, Job 42:3; etc., which the Lord God has condescended to reveal to man in the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ in whom all the fullness of the Godhead is pleased to dwell in bodily form, Col 1:19; 2:9.

These are some of the attributes of our great and awesome God that faithful believers must recall and grasp tenaciously when confronted with the pressing dilemma of the prosperity of the wicked and the adversity of the righteous. Rather than committing the error of Asaph who became very discouraged, even to the point of almost apostatizing from the faith, because he witnessed no advantages of holy living: “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.” Ps 73:1-14, our full attention and trust are to be placed in the Lord God alone. However, the psalmist goes further for not only are we to recall God’s full-orbed excellency (trust) but also we are to delight ourselves in him. In so doing, the Holy Spirit will reassure us of the faithfulness and steadfast love of our God, by which he will ultimately vindicate his righteous ones whom he will never leave or forsake, and also of his justice by which he will destroy the unrighteous. Encouraged by these assuring truths, the Christian is therefore to “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Ps 37:5-7; see also 73:16-20; etc.

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How do we show our delight in some activity that brings us joy? Phrased differently, what are some of the thoughts, attitudes and emotions we have when we engage in some joyful activity? Clearly we will we devote our time, energy, and all other resources in this direction. In other words, we will take the necessary steps and make the requisite sacrifices in order to pursue our delight. If our delight is in reading, then we will strive to get alone with a good book and lose ourselves in it. If it is in an activity, then we will adjust our schedules, engagements and priorities in order to hone our skills in our selected game, sport, and so on. Our contention is that the pursuit of our delight requires us to make conscious and willing alterations in other areas of our lives in order to satisfy our joys. If these truths apply to an activity, then we can easily recognize how much more pressing, complex and delicate our responsibilities must be when our delight is not in a thing but in a person.

When properly understood and undertaken from a biblical and covenantal perspective, relationships require selfless attention, sacrificial devotion, and (pro-) active involvement with the one who is the object of our affection. In order to have God-pleasing, and God-honoring relationships, we must spend time with others. Several years ago, “experts” asserted that the amount of time that we spent with our spouses and children was not terribly important. What was most important, they claimed, was the “quality time” that we spent with them. Such “quality time” would incorporate doing things our loved ones liked to do; going out of our way to please them; helping them in some dire area of need; etc. Not long afterwards other authorities revised this emphasis on quality time by emphasizing that quality time is, indeed, quantity time. The presupposition here was that if you truly care care about someone, then every moment that is spent with him or her will be considered quality occasions. Further, our authentic affection for our loved ones would necessarily entail us wanting to spend more and more time with them. Thus, quality time is quantity time.

Whether or not we disagree with all the details of the above declarations, I think we can all agree that faithful and fruitful relationships do require us to spend time and to share space with those we love. For example, let’s consider the most important of all human relationships- that of marriage. How can a husband and wife have a profitable relationship without being constantly and continually in each other’s presence? Such a possibility is unthinkable. At the very least, this physical dimension is what the biblical command to leave father and mother, hold fast to your wife, and become one flesh, means and demands, Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31. We are to spend time investing in each other, in deepening our intimacy in all aspects of its application, in ripening and strengthening our relationship as we complement, encourage, lovingly rebuke and know each other more profoundly. If these are some of the particulars regarding human commitments, then how much more demanding should be our relationship with God? If delighting in our spouses requires a selfless devotion on our part, to dutifully attend to their care, sanctification, nurture, honor, and so on, Eph 5:22-33, then how much more dedicated and fervent should we be in our relationship with our Triune God?

In our last writing we asserted that the premier precondition for delighting in God is knowing him. Such a knowledge entails not a mere, superficial familiarity but an intimate and experiential realization of some of his attributes in our lives. In other words, knowing God certainly includes but definitely extends far beyond acquiring certain propositional truths about him. When the psalmist admonishes us to “Delight yourselves in the Lord, ….” Ps 37:4a, he is insisting on the inseparability between the propositional and experiential aspects of our relationship with God. Undoubtedly, he has the idea of enjoying our Lord God in mind, a seminal principle contained in the Westminster Shorter Catechism answer #1: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

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As creatures whom God has benevolently condescended to create in his own image and likeness, our fundamental posture towards our loving Creator is that of grateful response. Creatures do not create or initiate for these are the properties of an eternal Self-existing, good, omnipotent and holy God. Instead, the creature mimics his creator God by performing the works God has given him, Gen 1:26-28; 2:15. This principle also applies to the Christian, that is, to those who have been born again or re-created in “true righteousness and holiness”, Eph 4:24, because the good works they do are not the product of their imaginations or wills but are the delightful provision of a gracious God who prepared them before the foundation of the earth, Eph 2:10 (8-10). The Christian is marked by a holy zeal to do such works, Tit 2:14.

This then is the rhythmic cadence of the life of the creature: God initiates and creates and we respond by mimicking him by doing the works that he has granted us. When we consider these truths, we can readily see that our actions are at least in acquiescence with the indisputable dogma that we are not our own, that is, that we are not independent, autonomous beings conducting a self-determining, self-fulfilling existence. On the contrary, the Scriptures boldly declare that there is One to whom we owe everything, "'In him we live and move and have our being'” Acts 17:28, and plainly teach that “… each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Rom 14:12. Indeed, each man will give an account to God for every careless word he speaks, Mt 12:36, to the Righteous Judge who “.. is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Pe 4:5.

Thus, whether we are created in the image and likeness of God or re-created by the saving grace of God by regeneration of the Holy Spirit through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone, our fundamental and characteristic posture towards God is that of response. The question we must now ask ourselves is what is the content of our response? It is one of thanksgiving.

Throughout the Scriptures, thanksgiving is usually offered to God. After the Exodus, it was formally established as a part of the sacrificial system, Lev 7:11-15. In the Psalms (ESV), various forms of “thanksgiving” appear in 46 verses one of which records it as a command, Ps 50:14. The Old Testament portrays thanksgiving as an integral part of worship, Pss 95:2; 100:4-5. God is to be thanked not only for his incomparable attributes, perhaps especially for his steadfast covenant love, 2 Chron 7:3; Ezra 3:10-11; Ps 136:1-3, 26; etc., but also for his deeds on behalf of his covenant people, Isa 63:7, foremost among which is the salvation that he wrought on their behalf, Ex 15:1-21; Ps 105:1-45. In this latter reference, thanksgiving is extended to God’s saving Presence and power throughout the entirety of Israel’s life, cf. 136:1-26.

Thanksgiving is expressed in different ways. Sometimes it is conveyed in song, Ps 69:30; 95:2; etc., and at other times, in and with music, 27:6; 92:1-3; etc., and in dance, 149:3.

In the New Testament, thanksgiving is usually in response to God’s salvation in Christ Jesus. This is not surprising because “thanksgiving” (eucharistia) (and its various forms) are semantically related to the principle of “grace” (charis). Accordingly, thanksgiving is offered to God for Christ, 2 Cor 9:15, and through Christ, Rom 1:8, and in Christ’s name, Eph 5:20. At times, it is offered to Christ, 1 Tim 1:12.

God is thanked for delivering his people through Christ from death and the grave, 1 Cor 15:57, and also from indwelling sin, Rom 7:23–25. God is thanked for the triumph of the gospel, 2 Cor 2:14, and for the conversion of sinners, Rom 6:17. There is a direct relationship between the extension of divine grace and our response in thanksgiving: “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” 2 Cor 4:15.

Our Lord thanks God for hiding his plans from the wise and for revealing them instead to little children, Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21. Prior to his restoration of Lazarus from the dead, he thanks God for hearing Him, Jn 11:41-42. However, Jesus’ most significant acts of thanksgiving are located in His feeding miracles and at the Last Supper. See, for example, Jn 6:11: “Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. ..” and Lk 22:19, “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, ..”

Christians are to abound in thanksgiving, Col 2:7 and it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that thanksgiving be rendered in all circumstances, 1 Ths 5:8. In the eschaton, the Lord God is thanked for his Person, Rev 7:12; 11:17, and for his saving work of destroying his enemies, v. 18; cf. 4:9-11.

Thanksgiving therefore is the essential content of creaturely existence. It is especially requisite and definitive of those whose sins have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ. This truth is touchingly portrayed by the woman in Lk 7:36-50. At our next meeting, God willing, we will begin our examination of this story.

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As we continue studying the implications of the biblical requirement to delight ourselves in the Lord, we will discover that the account of Lk 7:36-50 provides us with many clear principles that are not only helpful but that are also essential for us to know as we strive to cherish the Lord as our greatest joy.

Luke, the beloved physician, Col 4:14, describes the events that are taking place at the home of one Simon, a Pharisee. Note that there are other similar but unparalleled anointings of our Lord in Mt 26:6– 13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1–8. The occasion is one of a feast, a mirthful coming together of many invited guests the most prominent of whom is our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not provided the reason(s) for this social gathering; as a matter fact, Luke’s opening sentence is very sparse in its detail: “One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.” v. 36. That Jesus would dine with the Pharisees is not a singular or exceptional occasion for this writer also records that this was Jesus’ practice on at least two other occasions, 11:37; 14:1. Reclining at the table was the normal posture for eating. Those partaking of the meal would typically recline on low couches that were arranged around a table. Each person would face the table slantwise, with his feet extending backward and away from him. He would lean on his left arm in order to keep his right hand free to take hold of the food. (This sheds light on the statement in v. 38 that the woman was standing behind him, that is, at his extended feet). 

Verses 37-38 describe the great shock, amazement and disgust descending upon this setting when a disreputable woman, here called “a woman of the city” as well as “a sinner” made her unexpected entrance. These brief but punishing descriptions already produce a clear picture of her scandalous disrepute. We are spared the details of her sins but the term sinner was sometimes used for those guilty of adultery. She received the news that Jesus was at this location and she promptly came armed with an expensive alabaster jar of costly ointment which she clearly intended to offer as a thank offering to Jesus who had previously forgiven her sin(s). This she proceeded to do with a robust heedlessness of the presence of the other guests.

Upon witnessing her unrestrained outpouring of gratitude, Simon concludes that Jesus is no prophet because a prophet would have known her to be a sinner and would have stoutly resisted her. Ironically, Jesus’ reception of this woman did the very opposite: his acceptance of her and her gift proved his authenticity as a prophet because he understood and approved both her motives and her actions. In addition, his prophetic authenticity was established by his perfect knowledge of Simon’s sinful thoughts.

In order to defend his actions, to prove that he was the divine prophet, to expose Simon’s sin, and to reaffirm his assessment of the woman, our Lord relates to Simon the Parable of the Two Debtors. It states that two men were indebted to a moneylender to different degrees – one owed him the equivalent of five hundred days’ wages and the other an amount corresponding to fifty days’ labor. Neither was able to pay. With great skill and prudence, and instead of having these inept debtors imprisoned, the moneylender generously canceled both debts. At the end of this parable, Jesus, in all likelihood establishing firm eye contact with Simon, pointedly asks him, “Now which of them will love him more”? Simon smugly supposes the one with the larger debt and Jesus confirms the correctness of his answer. However, our Lord abruptly turns his attention to the woman whose actions he describes as abundantly exceeding all the standards of custom and propriety, the most basic of which Simon the Pharisee did not extend to Christ. The discourse ends with Jesus’ stinging conclusion, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."” See vv. 39-47.

At our next meeting, God willing, we will (finally) begin unearthing some principles of delighting in the Lord from this account.

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As we resume our study of the forgiven woman who delighted herself in the Lord in Lk 7:36-50, it

might be helpful to consider the setting.

We are not told why Simon the Pharisee invited our Lord to dine in his home but it is quite likely that

Jesus had preached in the synagogue and that he had received such an invitation as this was the custom extended to traveling rabbis. From the entirety of the biblical account, we can also surmise that Simon

had other less admirable reasons. In those days, the homes of the affluent were constructed around

central courtyards in which formal meals were served. On such occasions, the doors of the home were kept open, and the uninvited townspeople were free to wander in and out to observe the affair and to

listen to the conversation. It was into this setting that the woman made her captivating appearance.

One of the many notable characteristics she demonstrates is that of boldness. That her actions display a commendable fearlessness is beyond debate, doubt or denial. Her conspicuous boldness stands out in

sheer contrast with the pathetic complacency of Simon the Pharisee, the host of this special occasion.

In first place, she was not intimidated by the location of the event. This feast was held at the home of

a notable Pharisee, that is, of an officially appointed and recognized religious leader of the Jews, one whose duty included, among others, the responsibility to lead the people of God in the truth of God and

to the Truth that is God, that is, to God’s appointed Messiah. The fact that the dinner was held at his

home firmly suggests that many distinguished social, religious and even political leaders of Israel would have been in attendance. This would be the equivalent of our contemporary black tie affair which

would have been attended by an elite group comprising the who’s who list of first century Jerusalem.

However, this woman was completely oblivious to the presence of both the distinguished guests and

the common onlookers. She was not seeking to be offensive or disrespectful; she calmly displayed a

delightful defiance of all the prevailing customs and conventions of her day. She is to be regarded as a charming iconoclast who was driven by concerns and ideals that soared much higher than the levels

marked out by contemporary religion and by the existing status quo.

Expectantly, she drew the attention of the onlookers and, the text says, especially that of the host,

Simon, who silently and cowardly expressed his self-righteous contempt for her and for the Lord Jesus Christ whose official credentials Simon disputed, v. 39. However, this woman was specially compelled to

pursue her goal regardless of the stern looks, disapproving comments and contemptuous remarks she was attracting. What was this compulsion? She delighted in the Lord Jesus Christ! Thus, she entered this crowd which for the most part consisted of the upper crust of Jewish culture, determined to have

her way and very confident in what she was doing. In full view of those of high and low estate, she

bowed very low, stooping down to the one who had stooped down to her depraved level to exalt her in His own righteousness. She had a total and exclusive focus on Christ inasmuch as she had placed her

total and exclusive reliance upon him for salvation. In other words, she approached the Lord Jesus with a holy boldness that came upon her when our Lord forgave her sins. At that time she was made a new

creature, 2 Cor 5:17, one whose filthy garments of sin were removed, whose iniquity was taken away, and who was clothed with the pure vestments of Christ’s righteousness, Zech 3:4. Her boldness derived

from the assurance of her salvation by Christ Jesus our Lord.

At our next meeting, God willing, we will continue our examination of the boldness of this woman

who was forgiven by our Lord Jesus Christ.

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We concluded our last study by remarking that the holy boldness characterizing this woman was born of her assurance of her salvation- she approached the Lord Jesus with a holy boldness that came upon her when our Lord forgave her sins. She knew that the Lord would not reject her. Her confidence was an inseparable subjective reality of her being born again; the world did not give it to her and the world could not take it away.

The term “outside the box” is one that has had its share of abundant overexposure. Its current use is not as popular as it was a few years ago and perhaps (quite thankfully!) it has died or it is dying the death either of reckless overexposure or needless overemployment. Nevertheless, in spite of its excessive utilization there is some legitimate application to this term. This this former “woman of the city” stepped “outside of the box” by venturing outside of and even against the accepted customs as well as the expected protocol of her day, especially those respecting the public conduct of women. For example, the Talmud, from a word meaning to study or learn, a collection of rabbinic Jewish texts that record the oral tradition of the early rabbis, stated that a woman could be divorced for letting down her hair in the presence of men. This was a very serious offense which the rabbis classified together with a woman’s uncovering her breasts. In the setting of the Pharisee’s house, one could therefore imagine the intense surprise and great shock that overwhelmed the guests and the onlookers as she entered and as she began to shower her

affections upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

Where her Lord was concerned, this woman reminds us of racehorses that are equipped with blinders to prevent them from being distracted as they run their race. The blinders restrict their vision from straying to the left or to the right and forces them to concentrate on the track that is before them. In this woman’s case, the love of Christ and his abundant saving grace were her spiritual blinders restricting her vision to her Savior alone. She possessed a sanctified focus causing her to direct all her attention to Jesus. In this regard, her actions also remind us of the chorus of the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”: Turn your eyes upon Jesus/ Look full in His wonderful face/ And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/ In the light of His glory and grace.

The boldness of this woman, emerging from Christ’s forgiveness of her sins and manifest in part by her singular focus upon him, is a great example for us to follow. It convicts us of our hesitancy (even refusal) to stand up for Christ for fear of rejection by friends and family; victimization by employers; exclusion by social organizations such as fraternities and sororities; and so on. It reveals the unpleasant reality of our undivided hearts. It condemns us of our desires to be approved by the world and to be recognized as nonthreatening nice people. It brings to the forefront of our thoughts the need for us to stand up for Christ and his cross at all costs. It exhorts us to follow the examples of the faithful saints of Hebrews 11 of whom the biblical writer states, “the world was not worthy”, v. 38. Above all, it charges us to run the race that is set before us “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 12:2.

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Apart from her unquestionably open boldness, the woman in Lk 7:36-50 also demonstrated the critical virtue of gratitude. This most valuable asset is fast disappearing from all aspects of life. In former days “Thank you” or “Thank you very much” were normal, unsurprising and frequent expressions uttered in response to someone who had performed a good deed for us or on our behalf. Today however, as American society thinks further into the quagmire of post-barbarian crudeness and viciousness, such tokens of Thanksgiving are noticeably absent. For example, drivers rarely wave their hands or flicker their lights to acknowledge one who has graciously yielded them the right of way. We are a society of fallen creatures who are infected by an attitude of expectation and by a psychology of entitlement – society owes me! I deserve to be rewarded! After all, continues this rampant narcissism, I’m essentially a good person and I don’t have to endure any hardships or pressures from anyone.

The unnamed lady who is the subject of our discussion thinks and demonstrates otherwise. Her saving encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ enabled her to understand her sin as an overwhelming burden that cruelly oppressed her and as a devastating debt that she was unable to pay. When Jesus forgave her sins she began to realize that she was the undeserving recipient of his immeasurable blessings as well as the of his abundant mercies. Her actions are a vibrant, visual demonstration of the believer’s response to God’s mercies in salvation: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living [or rational] sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Rom 12:1-2.

In the first eleven chapters of this letter, the apostle Paul outlines the grace of God in saving his

covenant people from sin by rescuing them from his just wrath and condemnation. After his thorough

explanation of God’s abundant saving mercies through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the question that confronts us is how are we to live in the light of what God has graciously done for us in Christ Jesus? How should we respond to God’s loving and sovereign initiative towards us who were once dead in our trespasses and sins. In other words, since we have been saved through Christ, how should we respond? After all, were we not sinners when Christ died for us? Rom 5:8. Were we not formerly enemies of God? Rom 5:10. Further, at the time of our salvation were we not dead in our trespasses and sins which were the pattern of our lives as we followed the course of this fallen world under the control of the devil and abiding under the just wrath of God along with the rest of fallen mankind? Eph 2:1-3. Even further, in spite of these indisputable justifiable charges by God against us, did not “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-- …. and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”? vv. 4-7. What is the resounding summary of God’s abounding grace to undeserving wretches like us? “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” vv. 8-9.

For God’s abounding mercies to us in Christ we are to live lives of gratitude. Those whom God has

transformed from death to life should offer their bodies to him as instruments of righteousness, Rom 6:13. Those whom God has freely justified by his grace alone are to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God, 12:1. This latter statement appears to be a self-contradictory statement because sacrifices are dead and we are alive! The resolution is easily found in the understanding that as living persons, we are both dead and alive. For, because of our union with Christ, “.. If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 6:8-11.

Gratitude or thanksgiving is the general disposition, the prevailing attitude and a primary motive of the Christian life. While it is true that the Christian life and conduct may be accurately expressed from other perspectives, for example, because God the Father has forgiven us in Christ, we are also to forgive others, Mt 6:12; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13; because we have been saved and sanctified by a holy God, we must also live holy lives, 1 Pe 1:14-16; Heb 12:14; Mt 5:48; because God has been patient with us, so we must also be patient with the sins of others while we patiently await the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Jas 5:7-11; and so on, gratitude to God for his work in creation and, especially in redemption, is the believer’s most fundamental and most salient distinctive. In the adorable words of Andraé Crouch:

How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me?

Things so undeserved yet you gave To prove your love for me

The voices of a million angels Could not express my gratitude

All that I am, and ever hope to be I owe it all to thee

Refrain: To God be the glory, to God be the glory

To God be the glory for the things he has done

With his blood he has saved me

With his power he has raised me

To God be the glory for the things he has done.

(“My Tribute.” Source:, accessed April 16, 2016)


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We must also note that this woman’s gratitude towards Christ stems from her new identity in Christ.

This truth is the epistemic context and content of her actions towards her Lord. That is to say, her salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ had instilled in her a new understanding of Christ, the world and of herself. Because of Christ’s saving work on her behalf and in her place, she no longer regards herself as her neighbors did, that is, as a loose, immoral woman incurring the judgment of both man and God. Now that she was saved she was beginning to know without any hesitation, doubt or uncertainty, the implications of the reality of her salvation. She once was lost but now she was found. She once viewed Jesus according to the flesh, 2 Cor 5:16, as the rest of society, as an ordinary prophet and teacher, a good moral person and a miracle worker. Yes, the public viewed his teaching and his signs and wonders with great skepticism. After all, was he not the carpenter’s son with whom they were very familiar, whose mother and brothers they knew very well, and with whom they had grown up? On this account, had they not questioned the source of his knowledge and his authority to perform miracles? Further, had they not taken offense at him and his teaching. Mt 13:55, 57; see Mk 6:1-3? Most assuredly, these were the perceptions she had of Christ prior to her salvation.

However, when the Lord God commanded his saving light to break through the darkness of her sin and to shine in her heart - similar to the sovereign manner in which he commanded the light to break through the primeval darkness in creation, Gen 1:3 – she began to have a new worldview and a new selfunderstanding according to “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor 4:6. From this point onwards, Christ was no longer a controversial and problematic itinerant teacher whose words and works were worthy of disputation. Now, through spiritual eyes, he was the Savior of the world and particularly, her Savior, by whose death and resurrection alone she could be saved.

Now she saw him as the Messiah, in whom alone there is salvation, “.. for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” Acts 4:12. The veil of darkness covering her heart was lifted and, being granted eyes to see, she now firmly rejects all previous earthly and human judgments concerning him and begins to see him as the promised Messiah, the Son of God whom God the Father sent “in the likeness of human flesh,” that he may condemn sin in the flesh, Rom 8:3. Armed with this powerful, saving insight, she responds to the revelation of Jesus Christ in the best possible way. What shall she render to the Lord for all of its benefits towards her in Christ? Ps 116:12. The most expensive

items at her disposal.

Thus, she breaks into this dinner with great boldness and begins to shower Jesus Christ with the most expensive gift upon which she can lay her hands. It is therefore not presumptuous for us to consider anachronistically that she was singing the words of Isaac Watts, “Were the whole realm of nature mine/ That were an offering far too small;/ Love so amazing, so divine, /Demands my soul, my life, my all.” From “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Her open attitude and actions demonstrate a profound gratitude towards Christ and must be understood as a sincere expression of worship. In her person, she fulfills the apostolic principle of presenting “.. your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” Rom 12:1. Her free expressions of lavish gratitude are joyful celebrations of her redeemed soul in praise and thanksgiving to her Redeemer.

We will develop this thought the next time we meet.

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We concluded our study last week by observing that this unnamed woman’s gratitude to Christ for saving her soul was a practical demonstration of the presentation of her body “.. as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Rom 12:1. Offering herself to Christ in this manner is an act of worship that is sacrificial, selfless and costly. It is sacrificial and selfless not only because of the material cost of the ointment which some commentators compute to be equivalent to 300 denarii or about a

year salary per pound 1 (a denarius was 1 day’s wages, Mt 20:2; etc.) but also because in so doing, she had virtually opened the door for public rebuke and condemnation from the distinguished guests that were present and especially from the host, Simon the Pharisee, whose heartless thoughts and sentiments regarding her actions (and Jesus’ reactions) are recorded in v. 39.

The previous verse describes her as bending down to wipe Jesus’ feet which she had drenched with her tears, with her hair. In the original, the verbs wiped and kissed are in the imperfect tense and therefore indicate her repetitive actions; that is, she kept on wiping and kissing Jesus’ feet. Her tears are undoubtedly the product of a genuinely contrite heart, authentic repentance for her sins and unbounded joy in the Lord who saved her soul. She therefore found no difficulty in bowing down to her Redeemer in thankful worship. She considered that the One who, though fully equal with God did not think such equality as a privilege to be selfishly grasped but who humiliated himself by adding humanity to his deity by becoming the sovereignly appointed Suffering Servant who gave his life for her on the cross, Phi 2:5-8, to be worthy of her public self-abasement. After all, she reasoned, if my Lord could stoop down to make me great, should I not offer myself to him at all times in unrestrained humility? If, my Lord Jesus Christ, who,

though he was rich, yet for my sake became poor, so that I by his poverty might become rich, 2 Cor 8:9, should I not consider that any gift to him or any risk that I should undertake on his account, to be worthy of any and all sacrifice?

Although she does not utter a word throughout her worship, her actions reverberate with thunderous and defiant praise. Indeed, this is a silent worship ceremony whose actions and meaning resonate with joy and trembling. Whereas prior to her salvation her sinful reputation preceded her, now, as one whose sins were fully and freely forgiven, her public display of emboldened worship now heralds her presence. By his sovereign grace alone, Christ has removed the suffocating guilt of her past sinful, sexually immoral life. According to his abundant mercies alone, he has lifted her gruesome burden and now she is free at last. By sheer grace alone, Christ has transformed her from being a social outcast to a covenant child of God.

By sheer grace alone, Christ has rescued her from the condemnation of man and God and has clothed her with his own righteousness. By sheer grace alone, Christ has washed her sins away so that she is now eternally cleansed. By sheer grace alone, Christ has provided her with a new perspective of life, a new purpose in life and a new priority in life. All of these transformations are briefly but soundly explained by our Lord’s words in verse 47, “ [your] sins, which are many, have been forgiven,..” Here, our Lord states that the reason for the woman’s heartfelt and profuse display of adoration for him is because he has forgiven her of all her sins; indeed, she loves him much because she is very conscious of the fact that he has graciously removed the power, the dominion as well as the guilt of her sins.


1 Darrell L. Bock, Luke (Downers Grove,. Ill., USA; Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 143.

As a result of her forgiveness, she is now manifesting the radical transformation of her heart by offering him sincere adoration in a very powerful and intimate way!

Yes, those who are the recipients of God’s gracious salvation in Christ freely and boldly verify their new status in many expressions of gratitude, especially in joyful selfless and sacrificial worship. In so doing, they manifest the new delight that Christ has placed in their hearts, expressions of which the world considers scandalous and outrageous but which they think as their reasonable service simply because he who has been forgiven much, loves much! This woman delighted in her God, Lord and Savior.