The Worship of a Pardoned Sinner

The Worship of a Pardoned Sinner

John W. Bramhall

Scripture Reading: Luke 7:37-38

Mr. John W. Bramhall of Charlotte, N.C., a frequent contributor to Focus, shares with us many helpful devotional thoughts on this Israelite woman who fully knew the meaning of her sins forgiven — and demonstrated it!

This deeply interesting narrative is found only in Luke’s Gospel. It reveals the fervent love of a pardoned sinner toward her Saviour. Uninvited, she entered the house of Simon the Pharisee where Jesus was a guest. Her conduct and her actions that followed were traceable to one great fact. She had been forgiven much and so she loved much. Her love was the effect of her forgiveness, not the cause. It was the consequence of her forgiveness, not the condition. It was the result of her forgiveness, not the reason. It was the fruit of her forgiveness, not the root. Forgiveness came before she poured her adoration at the Saviour’s feet. She was absolutely heedless of her surroundings and the persons present, for her heart was wholly centered on the One whom she worshipped and adored — Jesus alone!

How or where she obtained her pardon is not revealed. She may have heard the precious words of Jesus saying, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Perhaps she was the Jerusalem sinner of John’s Gospel to whom the Lord said, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). We do not know, but this we know — she was a pardoned sinner bringing to her Benefactor the worship, love and adoration of her heart. Let us consider how she did it.

She Stood at His Feet

The expression, “Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house,” literally means that He “reclined,” according to custom, upon a couch with His feet extended out behind Him. Thus it was convenient for the woman to do what she did at His feet. Note the place of humility she assumes —“at His feet,” not at His head. Why “at His feet”? It properly conveyed her deep realization of unworthiness to be the recipient of His eternal pardon and forgiveness. Is not this place of humility the proper one for every forgiven sinner?

She Wept at His Feet

Why such copious weeping, for the tears flowed down on the feet of Jesus profusely? Were they not tears of genuine sorrow and repentance at the memory of her many sins? Were they not also tears of joy and relief because her sins were all pardoned and her guilt was all gone? The Saviour said, “Her sins, which were many, are forgiven” (Luke 7:47). Were they not tears of love and gratitude from the depth of her soul for the One who had spoken words of grace and compassion to her sinful heart and brought divine peace? (see Romans 5:1). Have we ever wept at Its feet, being overwhelmed with gratitude for the Saviour who has spoken to us and said, “Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee”? (Matthew 9:2).

She Washed His Feet

Simon, the Pharisee, failed to show the common courtesy and hospitality to his illustrious Guest (Luke 7:44-47), but upon the dusty, soiled feet of the Son of God the penitent tears of appreciation flowed, to bathe them with the fountain of love springing up in her redeemed heart. The cold heart of Simon may refuse to perform the usual task of hospitality for the Lord, but the Father above sends the penitent, redeemed sinner to wash the feet of His only begotten Son. If Simon would not provide, the warm springs of a pardoned sinner’s heart gush forth with sufficient tears to bathe and cleanse His blessed feet. What a fountain of love it was and how He must have appreciated it!

She Wiped His Feet

The penitent woman did not possess a towel with which to wipe His feet, as the Lord has possessed in John 13 when He washed His disciples’ feet. She used her luxurious and abundant hair! “If a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her,” wrote God, through the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:15. That which was her glory, she stoops and uses to wipe the feet of the Saviour. What an act of surrender and devotion this was! It was the recognition and acknowledgment of His Lordship. Have we done the same? Have we laid our glory at His feet? Have we really said, “King of my life I crown Thee now; Thine shall the glory be”? God has said, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

She Kissed His Feet

Literally, the words declare that “she ardently kissed; she covered Hs feet with kisses.” It was not just once or twice, but many times, over and over again. Why did those blessed feet have such an attraction to her? She could say with the prophet Isaiah, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, thy Cod reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).

No more precious feet ever walked on earth than the feet of the Son of God in His incarnation. They were worthy of all her kisses. The traitor with evil in his heart drew near unto Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and planted the betrayal kiss on His lovely face. What a travesty! What evil daring! (Luke 22:47-48). Not so with the “chief of sinners,” for her heart was overwhelmed by His love and she generously pours out upon Hs feet the expression of her worship and adoration. Should not the Church today, the Bride, stoop down also and “kiss His feet”? Should not the “chief of sinners,” then, be found willing to “kiss His feet”?

She Anointed His Feet

This city woman brought with her “an alabaster box of ointment,” and as the last act of her devotion she poured it upon His blessed feet. She had washed them, wiped them, kissed them, and now she anointed them. The costly perfumed oil became for Him the perfume of her heart’s love and affection. That fragrant love of hers to Him gave off a far greater odor of sweetness than the very ointment she poured on His feet. Who can tell what this meant to the Saviour’s heart? The greatest present He could receive, the fulness of love and adoration by a pardoned sinner, must have been unspeakably precious to our Lord. Lavishly she poured the ointment on His feet. Was it wasted? Never! Worship and adoration of the Saviour is never wasted, for it is a far greater act of devotion than the activities of service! But who realizes this? Not many. Yet our service for Him would be of greater value if we worshipped Him more.

The moment is soon to come when all the redeemed in glory will fall down “before the Lamb” (see Revelation 5:8). The whole multitude of saints will fall “at His feet” in adoration and worship. Yet why should we wait for that day to do it? It would please Him and glorify Him now during the time of His rejection if we would stay “at His feet.” Pride, selfishness, jealousy, bitterness, division and many other evils would disappear from our midst if we would get down “at His feet.” But who is willing to take this lowly place which is the proper place for all God’s people to be?

May the Spirit of God speak to our consciences and hearts in living power and bring us where we belong today — AT HIS FEET!

We quote the following words that were found in the Bible of J.N. Darby after his departure from this scene:

Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus,
This is the place for me.
Here I have learned deep lessons,
Truth that has set -me free.

Free from myself, Lord Jesus,
Free from the ways of men;
Chains of thought that have bound me,
Never can bind again.

None but Thyself, Lord Jesus,
Conquered this wayward will.
But for Thy love constraining,
I had been wayward still.