Changing our perspective often helps us see things we couldn’t otherwise see. This is one of the reasons I like to go to the mountains every so often. In the relatively flat landscape of the Midwest, there just isn’t much in the way of challenging terrain around me. But if you put me in the Rocky Mountains, my perspective changes along with the elevation. Summiting the peak of one of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand-foot mountains is more than a challenge; it’s beyond me. Whether or not I make it all the way to the top, the change in perspective I gain helps me see my life and my heart more clearly.
We often need our perspective on God’s mercy to be challenged so it can be changed. In Luke 7, Simon, who is a Pharisee and a respected religious leader in his community, hosts a dinner for Jesus. In today’s world, such an evening would include classical music, proper attire, and fine dining. It is supposed to be an elegant evening. But then “a woman in the town who was a sinner” enters the scene and washes Jesus’s feet with her tears before anointing them with expensive perfume. Her presence and her actions could hardly be more scandalous.
As Simon mentally objects to what she was doing, Jesus blindsides him with a parable meant to challenge his perspective and ours. He asks who will appreciate being forgiven a debt more: someone who owes a lot or someone who owes a little? The answer, of course, is the person who owes a lot. The point is that the “sinful” woman had been forgiven a huge debt of sin, so she showed a lot more love to Jesus than the self-righteous Pharisees, who believed themselves to be pretty good people living pretty great lives.
If we evaluate ourselves from the flatlands of our own righteousness for too long, we may become convinced we’re not that bad, that we’re doing okay. We might reason that since we haven’t committed any terrible sins like murder, we’re actually respectable people who associate with a respectable Jesus. But when we see ourselves and our righteousness from the high mountain peaks of God’s holiness, we see our true condition much more clearly. Instead of being “nice people” who have it all together, apart from Christ we were actually “dead in [our] trespasses and sins” and “by nature children under wrath” (Ephesians 2:1,3). For all our imagined respectability, we stood under the curse of God before receiving His mercy.
We must look from Jesus’s vantage point if we are to be truly thankful for God’s mercy. We have been forgiven much, so we can love much. We have been rescued by God’s grace, which we didn’t earn but received through faith. Standing on the mountain of God’s mercy and kindness should cause our hearts to explode with joy and thankfulness. He is so kind! Let’s give thanks today, brothers, for His unfailing mercy and love.
Written by Jeremy Writebol