This is the story of Jack. Jack was the youngest of four boys. He didn’t have an easy life growing up. His dad was an alcoholic and his parents divorced when he was three years old. Jack lived with his mom and brothers. They never had a lot of money, and his mother never seemed to stay at one job for very long. She was depressed often.
Jack’s older brother Zach constantly picked on him, making fun of him and sometimes beating him up. At first, Jack would hide from Zach, always afraid when he was home. But after a while Jack learned to fight back. The harder Jack fought, the more Zach left him alone. Pretty soon, Jack started fighting with anyone who disagreed with him at school. He was always in trouble and eventually dropped out of high school. He began drinking and using drugs, and turned to a life of crime to support himself and his habit. At age 16 he left home and took to the streets.
Inwardly, he longed for attention and acceptance, but he never let his guard down. If he softened just a little, someone would take advantage of him. When Jack was 37 years old, he was in prison for murder. He had been in jail before for drugs, theft, weapons, assault, and even rape, but this was his longest sentence so far.
One day, he was told he had a visitor. Surprised, because no one ever visited him, he went into the visiting room to see a smiling, old lady waiting for him. He stopped for a minute, wondering what she could possibly want from him. Curious, he went and sat down across from her. The woman was probably about 70 years old with white hair, deep eyes, and a smile that never stopped. Jack felt a warmth come over him, but pushed it aside. “Don’t be soft.” He told himself.
She introduced herself as Carol and said the Lord sent her to talk to him. Jack said he wasn’t interested and their conversation was very short. After she left, Jack couldn’t shake the warm feeling and wondered if he should have listened to her more.
Weeks passed and Carol visited again. This time Jack listened longer and enjoyed the warm feeling a little more. As time went on, Jack began to look forward to Carol’s visit, her smile, their Bible studies and the warm feeling when she prayed. One day, Jack gave his heart to the Lord. He was amazed that God could forgive him of the horrendous things he’d done. Carol assured him He did, and after a while, Jack believed it himself.
Jack loved God with all his heart, forever grateful for His love and forgiveness. One day, Jack had a new cellmate named Ron. Ron said he was a Christian and Jack was happy to have a Christian cellmate. Yet, he wondered about him. Ron said he didn’t do anything that bad, and couldn’t believe God let him get arrested. When Jack talked to Ron about God’s great forgiveness, Ron said he was happy for Jack, but he had lived a pretty good life and didn’t have much to be forgiven of.
Jack invited Ron to come see Carol with him, but Ron refused. Jack also noticed that Ron never read the Bible and didn’t seem all that interested in spending time in prayer.
One day, after Ron called Jack a Jesus freak, Jack laid on his bunk and opened his Bible. He loved the fact that he no longer wanted to beat someone up for disagreeing with him. He came to Luke 7 and read:
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
Jack looked up from his Bible as he realized that he loved the Lord so much because he was forgiven of so much. Yet, Ron did not love the Lord very much. It wasn’t because he didn’t have much to be forgiven of, but because he didn’t see that he had a lot to be forgiven of. Ron was a sinner, just like Jack was, but Ron saw his sin as “not so bad.” “We all have a lot to be forgiven of,” Jack thought to himself. “Some people just don’t know it.” Jack took a moment to pray for Ron, that he would realize the depth of forgiveness available to him through Jesus Christ, and then he continued reading:
44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”Jack thanked God for his forgiveness and wept tears of gratitude.