Luke 7 v 47. “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.”
How do we know we have been saved? This is the point of this next story recounted by Luke. The previous stories demonstrated that salvation is not by our good works, for we are helpless and dead in our sins. We are saved by God’s Grace alone as we put our faith in Jesus. But the religious leaders would have been confused by this. After all, being good and doing good is what makes society bearable. When believers say that good deeds cannot save us, are we not trashing the doing of all good? Not so.
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dinner thinking that He just might be a prophet. But when a street-woman suddenly enters and makes a fuss of Jesus, Simon decides He could not be a prophet, because a true prophet would not allow a person with that kind of reputation to touch him (7 vs 37-39).
It is true that the woman was a sinner from the streets, but it seems that at some point before she gate-crashed Simon the Pharisee’s dinner party, she had met Jesus and had her sins forgiven. Notice the words in verse 48 “Your sins are forgiven”. The tense is perfect. Not: “Your sins are now at this moment forgiven”, but “Your sins HAVE BEEN (at some moment in the past) forgiven”.
So this woman had been forgiven and had a new heart and a new acceptance given to her. It’s a pity we are not told when exactly, or how she met Jesus to receive this precious gift. But Luke cannot give us every detail of the story of every person. He gives us sufficient information to join the dots and recognise that a miracle had taken place in her life.
But how was Simon supposed to know that? By her weeping, drying Jesus’ feet with her hair and pouring her precious perfume on his feet, that’s how. This was the evidence of her forgiveness.
She could not be saved by good works, but having been saved she engages in this extravagant behaviour to illustrate her gratitude to the one who saved her.
So too with us. We cannot be saved by good works but when we experience God’s Grace, gratitude overwhelms us and we find ourselves compelled to do as much good as we can to demonstrate the fact that we have met the One who forgives sins.