Well, it’s Valentine’s Day Again.
And a strange day at that. It’s both been the most difficult as well as the easiest Valentine’s Day since we lost Jack to prison. A very good day in that it was a productive day at work, my girl Keli bought me a beautiful rose and my favorite candy, a good day because during my morning disciplines God made me very aware of His love through scripture and prayer.
A difficult day, though, because of the accompanying acute sense of loss, as I watch couples celebrating each other and their relationships and marriages. Reading and hearing these things do not make me sad. Not at all. In fact, they make me very happy for my many friends who are in loving, Biblical relationships and are getting to celebrate that today. The sense of loss comes from a deep-seated loneliness and missing the days when I once had that as well. I think it must be something that all single people experience at some level on Valentine’s day, regardless if their singleness comes from not being in a relationship, experiencing a death of a spouse or loved one, or a divorce. Valentine’s Day can be a challenge.
I’m not one who views God or Jesus as “My Valentine”. I know that there are some that do. But that’s not me for a couple of reasons. One–it’s just not my personality. But two, I think we run a danger of losing a sense of reverence and awe when we try to quantify our relationship with Christ in human terms. Of course, human words are all we have to do so. But when we refer to Jesus as our “lover”, as our “boyfriend”, as our “groom” and only as those terms, we miss out on a large amount of who His character is. That’s why I’m always hesitant to sing Worship songs that sound more like a song that would be sung to a boyfriend or a husband than to God almighty.
BUT….do not hear me saying in all of that, that I am not very aware of the love that Jesus has for me. He makes that so very known in many, many ways.
As I was thinking through the stories of the Bible this morning that would characterize my relationship with Jesus the most (for He is relational), the story that most stood out is the story of the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair and her tears. This past Sunday at Seaford Baptist Church, our pastor Michael Howard, preached a sermon about Jesus washing his disciples feet. It was a tremendous sermon, I urge you to listen to it. Usually, the person washing the feet of visitors or members of the household was the lowliest servant in the house. It was a dirty job. A nasty job. Feet are generally dirty, especially in the First Century when they walked everywhere.
But Jesus washing his disciples feet is not the only place in scripture where we see someone washing someone’s feet. In Luke 7:36-48, we are introduced to a woman who was known as a “sinner”. The passage is long, I’ll include it at the end of this post so that you can read it. But essentially, Jesus is invited to eat at a Pharisee’s home. When this “sinner” woman found out where Jesus was going to be, she boldly–BOLDLY–approached him at the house of this Pharisee with an alabaster bottle of perfume. How scared she must have been—what would their reaction be? Would they throw her out? But all that paled in comparison with what she had come to do, which was to wash Jesus’ feet.
Now, finding herself in His presence, she began to weep. With her tears and her hair, she proceeded to wash His feet, kissing them and anointing them with the precious ointment. She couldn’t help herself, she was overwhelmed in His presence.
She knew who she was.
She knew who He was.
The pharisee is disgusted. If Jesus really was a prophet, he would knew who this woman was-a worthless, filthy sinner. Fit to be thrown out. A disgrace. An embarrassment. A sinner.
And yet Jesus did know who she was. He knew exactly who she was. And as she wept, He did something amazing. First, He told the Pharisee a story. A parable of sorts. Something to teach the Pharisee. Read it below. And then Jesus TURNED TOWARD THE WOMAN. He turned His face away from the Pharisee and turned His gaze upon this weeping woman kissing His feet. And then Jesus says these incredible, beautiful words:
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. O, my soul embraces these words.
Because, you see, I have sinned much. My sins are many. And I would hope that I would have the courage, the chutzpah to walk into a pharisee’s home where Jesus was, and anoint His feet and wash them with my hair, in order to show my Jesus just how much I love Him. Just how much I recognize who He is. Just how grateful beyond words I am that He has forgiven me of my many many sins.
And so, on this Valentine’s night, I am reminded of my sins that are many, and my Jesus’ love for me which is much, and His forgiveness of those sins—which are a multitude. Grievous sins. Ugly sins.
I think the picture at the top of this post sums it up. It is in the hard times that I have learned the most. I have learned that I am much stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I also have learned that Jesus is closer than I could ever imagine. And most of all, I have learned that I am loved much more than I could ever imagine—by my God.
No, I don’t have someone to wine and dine me tonight. I don’t have someone to give me jewelry or to cuddle up with or to celebrate the gift of romantic love with. And maybe I never will again. But tonight I do know that I have a God who loves me enough to give His son to die for me—to take the punishment for my sins, so that my many sins are forgiven. There is no greater love than this. None.
I am loved.
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”