One of life’s bitterest ironies from God’s point of view is that the lowlifes of Jewish society, the tax collectors and prostitutes and “sinners,” were more likely to listen to Jesus and welcome his message of grace and forgiveness. The church people, the Pharisees and teachers, didn’t need him and didn’t want him.
It’s because they weren’t aware of their many sins and because they rated themselves proficient and advanced in personal holiness by comparison with the lowlifes that they were uninterested in the message of a Savior. “Saved from what?” they thought. “I’m fine!” Then there were people like the woman who had lived a sinful life, who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and then anointed him with some of her perfume. Criticism broke out like water from a ruptured dam, but Jesus shushed them: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47).
People on the margins of society know their failures. They are painfully aware of their failures. Their thirst for hope and a rescue makes the gospel sound sweet in their ears. They are grateful for grace. People whose pride keeps them unaware of their own need, not so much. Jesus’ observation back then is still true today–people who know they’ve been forgiven much will love much.