Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Captured by Grace


  She didn't sleep well. As the sun rose, uncertainty still filled her mind. Was she going to go thank Jesus for what He had done for her? "I will go. I won't go. I must respond to His grace. But I don't belong with that group of people." Back and forth this lady dealt with indecision.


  Meanwhile, across town, in an upscale neighborhood of new homes with paved streets, Simon the Pharisee was also up early. He was giving a party, a big social event. The Rabbi, the newest teaching rage, Jesus of Nazareth, was coming to His house for dinner. There would be a scrumptious meal, a time for questions, some in-depth Scriptural insights, perhaps even a miracle or two. So with a wave of his hand, he dispatches his servants to the market, to the laundry, to household chores. Everything had to be just right for the big event.


  Finally, she gathers the courage, she comes to a decision, I will go! At Simon's house the guests began to arrive. They were greeted with a kiss, a foot washing, heads anointed with oil, then escorted to a predetermined place at the table. Simon is scoring some points, making an impression.


  Somehow, we're not sure whether by accident or intentional, Jesus arrived without receiving the kiss, the foot-washing, or anointing.


  As she arrives, she can hear voices inside. Easily she determined it was an all-male gathering. She didn't belong here: Wrong side of town. An all-male gathering, a religious gathering at that. She thinks, this is crazy. She turns to leave. But! Driven by love. Captured by grace. Compelled by His mercy. She pushes the door open. Instantly! All eyes are fixed upon her. Eating stops. Conversation stops. Everything stops! You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone knows her. Everyone is staring at her.Everyone is thinking, what is she doing here?


  She makes her way straight to Jesus, kneels at His feet. She had this speech rehearsed over and over, but now the words would not come. Her face flushes. Her hands begin to shake. She begins to cry. Tears start streaming down her cheeks. Her tears are falling on Jesus' feet. With nothing else available, she begins to brush away the tears with her hair. Too embarrassed, too ashamed, to look into His eyes, she breaks open an alabaster bottle. What was, no doubt, meant for a head anointing becomes a footwashing. The smell of the perfumed oil instantly permeates the whole room.


  Now, Simon is nervous, anxious. He waits for Jesus to say something, for Him to condemn this intruder. Silence! All you can hear were her sobs. The moment was pregnant with possibilities. What will happen next?


  Simon is thinking. "I am glad she didn't come over here and anoint my feet!" I believe we can assume the other self-righteous guests were thinking the same thing. Jesus knew what they were thinking. He interrupts the silence: "Simon, let Me tell you a story: "There was a money lender. Two men owed him money. One man owed him the equivalent of two month's wages, 50 denarii. The other owed him almost two year’s wages, 500 denarii. Neither one could pay the debt. So, in his grace and mercy, the money lender forgave them both, canceled their debt completely. Tell me Simon: Which one of these two appreciates this forgiveness the most? Which one has the greatest love?"


  Simon chokes! Now, his face flushes. Just above a whisper, he mumbles, "Well, I suppose the one who was forgiven the greater debt." Jesus looked at the woman, but continues to talk to Simon. "Simon, do you see the woman?" "Of course I see the woman, everyone sees her, we can't help but see her. She's the problem; we wish we didn't see her." "No, Simon, do you see this woman, really see this woman? She is a person? God's child. She's in God's image. Valued to God? Do you see that in every way, she is just like you Simon, except, except!" Jesus turned to the woman and said: "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." Suddenly, The room is abuzz with murmuring and whispers. Who is this man who thinks He can forgive sins?


  What an interesting narrative about love, mercy, grace, forgiveness. You see, somewhere, her life had been touched by the Master. Touched by grace. She was captured by grace, compelled by the love of God's Son.


  What about us? "God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son." "While we were yet sinners Jesus died for us." "The grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men." We are saved by grace through faith... A gift of God."


  So, The question becomes: How are we responding to His grace? Which of these two are we most like, Simon, or the woman? To what extent are we compelled by grace?


  When we see ourselves as we really are, sinners in need of grace, we'll never be the same. When we're captured by grace, we'll become His living sacrifice, an instrument of righteousness in the hands of our creator. The most important thing in life will be our worship of Jesus, anointing Him with every drop of life's perfume.


  "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool."


  Come, let us be compelled, captured by grace.


—Randall Caselman