James Smith, 1860
"Her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven — the same loves little." Luke 7:47
When we reflect upon the love of Jesus to us, in its vastness, tenderness, and eternity — we often feel surprised that we love him so little in return. But unless the Holy Spirit gives us a vivid sense of his love, and stirs up our affections; or to speak in Scripture language, unless his love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit — he gets but little love from us. Few things prove the chilling and hardening tendency of sin so much as this, that we can hear or read of the infinite love of Jesus — and not glow with love to him in return! Of one in the gospel narrative we read that "she loved much." Luke 7:47. But the wonder is — that all who knew him, did not so love him. Let us look at this instance of great love, to our lovely and loving Redeemer.
The Person. It was a woman. The affections of woman are often stronger, and generally more easily excited, than those of men. Women paid most attention to the needs, and manifested most love to the Savior — when he was here upon earth. Jesus prizes a woman's love, and therefore he calls attention to it, and commends it. Her character had been bad, for she had not only been a sinner — but a great sinner — an open and notorious sinner. Everyone that knew anything of her, knew that she was a degraded character. How wondrously grace shines forth in saving so many notorious transgressors. How often we see the apostolic statement illustrated, that "where sin abounded — grace did much more abound."
The Exercise. "She loved." The object of her love was Jesus. Jesus who appeared as a root out of the dry ground, having no form nor loveliness. Jesus who was despised and rejected by men. Jesus whom few loved in his humiliation. She loved him — because he had pardoned all her sins. He had power on earth to forgive sins. He well knew how great a sinner she had been. He exercised his sovereignty in forgiving her, and in giving her the sweet enjoyment of her pardon. In her pardoned state, she could not think of him, or look at him, without love. She openly showed her love, by coming where he was, by washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with the hair of her head, kissing them, and then anointing them with precious ointment. She loved, she wept, she did what she could to show her love — so that it became intelligible, everyone could see that she loved him. Nor did she spare expense — her costly ointment was poured on his feet. O precious manifestation of love to the meek and lowly Jesus!
Its Degree. "She loved much." Her sins had been great — the mercy shown her was great — the joy she experienced was great. The mercy was not only great, but sovereign — many such sinners were left — when she was taken. The glory opening before her was great — the love of Christ to her was great — therefore she loved him much. Can we wonder at it? Was it not natural? But if it was natural for her to love much — then is it not unnatural for us to love so little? Is it not surprising, that we do not love Jesus more? What sins he has pardoned in our case — what mercy he has shown to our souls — what love he has displayed in our experience! Oh! Holy and ever Blessed Spirit, come and shed abroad the love of Jesus in our hearts, that we also may love him much!
Beloved, Jesus should be loved much by us — for he has shown much love to us; therefore he deserves much love from us. Besides which, he demands much love of us; and he honors those who love him much. He prizes the love of his people, as poor as it is, and as worthless as it often appears to them.
If we would love Jesus much — we must look at sin in its nature and desert, and realize that he has delivered us from it. We must fix our eyes on his grace in its freeness and glorious effects, in our own personal experience. We must seek and obtain his Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of love, to kindle and increase the flame of love in our hearts. Loving Christians are working Christians, for love sets us working for Christ, and keeps us at it. Loving Christians are liberal Christians, for they consider that they can never give enough to him — who gave himself for them. He who has little love to Jesus — is in a low state; but he who has no love to Christ — is in an awful state.
Reader, do you love Christ at all? Have you ever applied to him for the pardon of your sins? Have you received your pardon from his hands? In proportion to your sense of the enormity of your sins which he has pardoned, and the dreadful nature of the punishment, from which he has delivered you — will be your love to him. If you love him not at all, you are unpardoned. If you are unpardoned, you are under a sentence of condemnation. If you are under a sentence of condemnation, that sentence, unless grace interferes for you, will soon be executed upon you. What a terrible state to be in! If you believed it, if you realized it — you could never have one moment's rest until you were delivered from it. No one but Jesus can deliver you. He has done everything necessary for your deliverance, by his life and death on earth. If you apply to him, if you believe on him, if you call upon him — he will deliver you; and when delivered, you will say with David, "I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he has inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live!"
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit into our hearts, to unfold your love to us, to seal home a sense of pardon, and to fill us with love to your Blessed self!
O to love Jesus — to love him much — to love him now — and to love him with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength forever!