[From A.W.O.L. (Acting WithOut Love) Christians]:
A lesson in forgiving love
Jesus taught this lesson to Simon in Luke chapter seven. Simon was a Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dine with him in his home. We know how Jesus attracted crowds of people who followed him wherever he went. On this particular occasion there was a woman in the crowd who is referred to as a “sinner.” Perhaps she was a prostitute, or guilty of some other type of sexual sin. In any case, it seems that everyone who saw her knew her reputation.
As Jesus was reclined to eat his meal this woman stood behind Him, no doubt convicted by whatever type of sin was in her heart. Her tears dropped onto Jesus’ feet and she washed His feet with those tears, using her own hair to dry them. She kissed His feet and then took out an alabaster flask of scented oil she had brought. She broke it open and anointed Jesus feet with that perfumed oil. As I mentioned, Simon was a Pharisee, a stickler for the law and one who looked down upon all who did not live by every letter of the law. It seems Simon could not help himself. He had to comment on this scene, referring to Jesus, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7: 39). Can you hear him say it? He no doubt emphasized that word, sinner. There was probably a tone of disgust and repulsion in his voice. He could not understand how a true “man of God” (which he thought of himself as) would allow such a person to even touch him.
But what was Jesus’ reaction? In verse forty we hear Jesus say, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” I can imagine there was a sternness in Jesus’ voice. He is not happy with Simon’s attitude toward this woman. Jesus tells Simon the story of two creditors:
"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five
hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing
with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.
Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, "You have rightly judged" (Luke 7:41 – 43).
And to punctuate the parable, Jesus berates Simon’s lack of hospitality toward Him, contrasting all the care and love expressed by this unknown woman with Simon’s seeming effrontery toward his guest:
"Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see
this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My
feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them
with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman
has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did
not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet
with fragrant oil" (Luke 7:44 - 46).
Max Lucado envisions this scene and makes this observation:
"You’d think Simon of all people would show such love. Is he not the reverend of the church, the student of Scripture? … You’d think the woman would avoid Jesus. Is she not the woman of the night, the town hussy? … How do we explain the difference between the two? … Think about it. What one discovery has she made that Simon hasn’t? What one treasure does she cherish that Simon doesn’t? Simple. God’s love."
I think it is very telling that in verse forty-four Jesus “turned to the woman and said to Simon.” It is as if Jesus is forcing Simon to focus on this woman, a woman that Simon finds detestable and even unlovable, because of his so-called piety and her life of sin. And to the point of our discussion here Jesus forgives this woman her sins, telling Simon, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47).
This story provides a most vivid picture of God’s forgiving love. It is something that Simon did not understand, regardless of all knowledge of the Law that he possessed. As we are about to see in the next chapters, there is little we can profess in the way of gifts of the Spirit, or little we can take pride in regarding our obedience to the Law, without the supreme law, the law of love that Jesus proclaimed, represented, and lived.