The sense of having our sins forgiven is the mainspring and life-blood of love to Christ. This, beyond doubt, was the lesson which our Lord wished Simon, the Pharisee, to learn when He told him the story of the two debtors. Both owed different sums of money. Neither could pay. Both were forgiven freely. And then came the searching question as to which would love Him most. Here was the true explanation, the Lord told Simon, of the deep love which the penitent woman before Him had displayed. Her many tears, her deep affection, her public reverence, her action in anointing His feet were all traceable to one cause. She had been forgiven much, so she loved much. Her love was the effect of her forgiveness, not the cause; the consequence of her forgiveness, not the condition; the result of her forgiveness, not the reason; the fruit of her forgiveness, not the root. Would the Pharisee know why this woman showed so much love? It was because she felt much forgiven. Would he know why he himself had shown his guest so little love? It was because he felt no obligation. He had no consciousness of having obtained forgiveness, no sense of debt to Christ.
The mighty principle laid down by our Lord in this passage is one of the great cornerstones of the whole gospel. The only way to make men holy is to teach and preach free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ. The secret of being holy ourselves is to know and feel that Christ has pardoned our sins. We shall do nothing until we are reconciled to God. We must work from life, and not for life. Our best works before we are justified are little better than splendid sins. The heart which has experienced the pardoning love of Christ is the heart which loves Christ and strives to glorify Him.
There is an encouragement in our Lord’s amazing mercy and compassion to this woman to anyone, however bad he may be, to come to Him for pardon and forgiveness. Never, never need anyone despair of salvation if he will only come to Christ. – J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), a meditation on Luke 7.36-50.