One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then 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. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
So, the scene takes place at a dinner party with Jesus as the special guest. What could go wrong? Many are curious of what Jesus is doing or teaching, but few are as prestigious as a Pharisee. I wonder how going to this house would have affected His reputation. I wonder how often He walked into the house of those who were like Simon vs. how many times they would reject Him and leave Him to fend for Himself.
Simon is at least curious. He is at least hospitable to some extent, but none of that means anything when Luke fills us in on his intentions. He is seeking to test Jesus like so many others have. They all want to see for themselves whether Jesus would meet up to some self devised test.
It just so happens for Simon that the ultimate test scenario walks through his door in the form of a sinful woman. Now, he thinks, we will get to the bottom of this. He will surely know what kind of woman this is if He is a prophet. He will shame her real good. Have you ever had those feelings of animosity for someone even though you don’t really know them that well?
You know, you’re at the gas station and someone needs help, but they are dirty. They have a worn out car. They are cussing and kicking their car. Of course your kids get to hear all that. I might be tempted to think, as someone takes my God and father’s holy name in vain, they won’t get any help at all with that kind of an attitude. They have set themselves up for failure. I might hope that a piece of soap comes flying out of nowhere and hits them in the mouth. The last thing I would do is help them, right? Do I remember who is my neighbor at that moment? That guy.
Why would we feel that way toward someone we really don’t know? Would we assume that person isn’t close to a true remorse and godly repentance?
When we take a look what all is happening in this story and parable it is hard to take it all in. There are three main characters in this story as there are three main characters in the parable. The life situations are paralleled to show us what is really happening.
1. We have the man who owns everything and forgives debt. This represents Jesus although the world doesn’t quite get that at the time that all of this took place. They thought He was some carpenter’s son who may have been called to be a prophet.
2. The man who owes a little and is forgiven. This represents Simon the Pharisee. However, the comparison is not exactly paralleled because we know how God looks on those who are proud like Simon and have a boastful image of themselves. He humbles them. If Simon is humbled and comes to the Lord for forgiveness (best case scenario), this is the mistake that he will have to look out for.
3. Another man who owes a great amount and is forgiven. This is supposed to represent the sinful woman who is actually turning to God for forgiveness at this very moment. Her great debt is simply a matter of sin that has enslaved her.
Jesus is making a one to one comparison with the parable to show us how God views this situation. The parable isn’t one to one, but it is really intended to make an impression on Simon. This is one of those story/parables that should really make an impact on all of us. I remember hearing a sermon on this parable 6 years ago and being stunned by the thought of all the sinful people that I have looked down on. I was terrible.
Can you imagine this sinful woman being compared to Simon on an equal playing field? Like they are two men being forgiven by God. Such a thought would offend the self righteous Jews of that time. He needed offending. We all need offending if we have too much pride.
That sloppy uneducated white man matters no less than you or I
The mean, belligerent black woman matters no less than you or I
The quiet, unsocial hispanic who can’t speak a lick of english and crossed the border illegally matters no less than you or I.
The common criminal is matters no less.
Get the thought out of your head that their exists on this earth another human being who is smaller than you are. The greatest in the kingdom won’t be able to find a single one.
For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man,
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.
A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
In the parable the attitude toward their debt is obviously different. The debt represents the slavery of us all to sin. We owe a debt we cannot pay. The wrong we have done cannot be undone by our own doing. Those who know that they cannot pay it by becoming righteous in and of their self, must submit to the one who is owed the debt.
The problem is that most people don’t know what that debt is. It’s like they are teenagers who think credit cards just magically pay themselves. Paul writes of the Jewish misunderstanding very well in the Roman letter.
But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
They actually thought that their unrightousness was okay. God wouldn’t judge them harshly for their sin because they didn’t sin as bad as other people.
Their is a willingness to forgive a great debt! We need to recognize that He is forgiving us of the sin that might be less damaging and evil than adultery. All sin should be taken seriously.
BUT can you imagine that the same evil sin that brought separation from God has been used by God to bring about the salvation sacrifice.
And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
God decided to use our sinfulness and His knowledge of it to His advantage. Men like Simon eventually are responsible for killing Jesus and that single act is what leads to our justification.
The same God who has been mistreated is now providing a way for those same people who mistreated Him to be set free from their past and allowed to serve Him.
Jesus asks Simon if he sees this woman.
Can you imagine more needed words. I ask myself this question when I am confronted with an opportunity to help or talk to someone about the truth. Do I see them?
If we aren’t careful we will miss seeing them. We will see who they have been instead of who they could be. See that person. Right there. Look at him. Connect your heart to him or her. Decide to help them in some way. Any way.
The dramatic and sad scene needs to be engrained in our minds. This is what we need to think about when we sin. I am her. I need to anoint Jesus’ feet with my tears. I need to turn to God for the help He provides.
God wants your best every day. He doesn’t expect you to overcome the weakness of your flesh completely by yourself. He wants to help you with that mission.
God does forgive. Don’t doubt His forgiveness! Have faith that He will do what He said He would!
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
As a response, let us all continue in faith, hope, and love for God and each other!