When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7: 36-48 NIV
Although this passage is lengthy, I feel it demonstrates Jesus’ insight and understanding. He knew the need and the error of the hearts of those with whom he interacted and exhorted and forgave as each needed.
Jesus did not condemn either of these people, though both were guilty of sin. He did, however, recognize the contrition with which the woman honored him. I am convinced Jesus’ loving presence moved this woman toward him with the expectation of exhonoration. She simply knew he could forgive her.
Jesus’ presence did not have the same affect on Simon. Simon was under the impression he was the one doing the honors rather the other way around—which would explain his not washing Jesus’ feet or kissing him.
But Jesus does not shame either of them. He points out the difference between their love for him. Luke doesn’t tell us how Simon responded after Jesus forgave the woman’s sins, but I’m sure the rest of the dinner was very awkward.
Jesus’ behavior was loving. His forgiveness washed the guilt from the woman’s soul and gave her hope.
Exposing Simon’s misjudgment was also loving. Simon rightfully called Jesus teacher. Jesus taught him about the love of God.
Everything Jesus said and did was for our benefit as much as it was for those directly interacting with him (2 Timothy 3:16). I know, like Simon, I don’t fully appreciate God’s compassion and mercy—the cost of my salvation.
How much do you love God? Do you fully recognize the extent to which God forgave you?
John 3:16-17 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (NIV)
When the Spirit of God exposes our sin and we realize we desperately need a Savior—and Jesus reaches his arms out to us—our hearts respond as the woman’s. We fall at his feet. We weep. And when we hear his sweet words, “Your sins are forgiven,” our hearts swell with joy and deep abiding love. For we were dead and now we live!
Our Savior was born on Christmas Day, rejoice with me!