When I’m learning something or needing to accomplish something through a sequential procedure that I’m not familiar with then I’m comfortable with formulas. I remember my mother would be asked to bake a cake for the women’s group at her church. She always agreed because she would say the baked cakes others would bring were never as good. Other women would ask her why her cakes were so much better. She would unashamedly say that she would follow the recipe. She would tell us at home, “How hard can it be?”
I’ve learned in my relationship with God that in learning things as a disciple a recipe or formula may work when I was young in the faith, then I’d learn latter the relationship and ongoing encounters with God were what aided my life in God more than the procedures and recipes.
In reading Luke 7: 36-50, the story of a sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and pouring perfume on them afterward in a Pharisees’ home doesn’t easily fit into a sequential procedure of repentance and salvation. I’d just assume not discuss any formula for salvation. Something is going on here.
Jesus is invited to Simon the Pharisee’s house for dinner. A woman who lived sinfully learned Jesus was there. She gets into the house during dinner. She’s not merely curious. Something else is at work here. She washes and refreshes Jesus’ feet like a servant would. Something else is going on here. Tears are what cleanse his feet and the perfume is an act of worship.
In this house there is attraction and there’s worship. Both Simon the Pharisee and the woman are attracted to Jesus. Simon is theologically and socially curious. The woman is not romantically attracted, but something is going on here. Again, you can’t put her emotions and actions into some sort of formulaic recipe of what a sinner does to get saved. It should be enough to say that something is going on here.
In Luke 17: 11-19 ten people afflicted with leprosy cry out to Jesus for mercy. He tells them to go show themselves to the priest. They are healed on the way. One of them returns to Jesus and worships him. Something has happened. Jesus then tells the guy who returned, “Your faith has made you well.”
These two stories show us that when you’re attracted to Jesus, something’s going to happen. The woman is attracted to Jesus. She brings perfume to pour on him. In the encounter she cries enough to wash his feet. Those afflicted, you can say are attracted to him, cry out to him. In both stories, these folks want Jesus to impact their lives. They knew if they got to Jesus something would happen. If you get to him, you won’t be the same. When we’re attracted to him, something’s going to happen.
In these two stories there is attraction, worship & faith. Simon the Pharisee is attracted to Jesus, but he wasn’t aware that there would be an opportunity for an encounter that would change everything like the woman knew there would be. He was attracted, but there was no faith or worship on his part. He was religiously correct by being theologically curious, but he “loved little” because he felt he had little to be forgiven for. The woman loved Jesus much because in the encounter without any words being exchanged she was forgiven much. After her expressions of worship toward Jesus, he declares she’s forgiven and that it was her faith that saved her much like he said to the man who was healed that returned to worship him.
Be attentive to when and where and how you’re attracted to Jesus because you’re being set up for an encounter that could change everything for you. Simon the Pharisee missed his opportunity to encounter the very gracious heart of the savior because he wanted to keep his dignity and respectability and religious standing.
Even now, you’re attracted to Jesus and what only he can do for you. Surrender yourself to worship and believe and something beyond what you believe is possible is about overwhelm you. Your faith has saved you.