As I look at this passage, I suppose the question I ask myself is, “How much do I really love Jesus?”
We see in this passage two people. One was a woman who lived a sinful life. What she did, we don’t know, but considering that everyone seemed to know about her, it would seem to have been a public sin, perhaps adultery and/or prostitution. All this is mere speculation, however.
On the other hand, we have a Pharisee. A person who was publicly “righteous.” He said the right things. He did the right things. He was a person, in short, who had it all together.
This man Simon, invited Jesus to his house for a meal, and while they were there, this sinner comes in and starts weeping. Her tears fall on Jesus’ feet as he’s reclining at the table, and she starts wiping her tears with her hair, and then pours some expensive perfume on his feet.
Simon’s reaction was immediate. Contempt. Contempt for the woman. And contempt for Jesus. He thought 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. (39)
But Jesus looks at him, and tells him a story of two people who owed a great deal of money, one more than the other, but who were forgiven their debts. Then he asked,
Now which of them will love him more? (42)
Simon, perhaps wondering where all this was going and if this was a trick question, replied,
I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven. (43)
Not the most confident sounding of answers, but nevertheless correct.
Jesus then sticks in the knife, saying, “You know Simon, it’s only common courtesy that a host would give a visitor water to wash his feet, to greet him with a kiss, and to pour oil over his head. But you did none of these things. This woman, on the other hand, washed my feet with her tears, and hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since she’s been here. Moreover, she poured this expensive perfume on me.”
Simply put, “Where’s the love Simon? This woman loves me. By her actions, she’s shown the depth of her gratitude for the forgiveness of God in her life. Because she realizes just how much she has been forgiven, her love is deep. But you, you have so little awareness of just how much you’ve been forgiven, that your love is practically non-existent. In fact, you take me for granted, and even look on me with contempt.”
He then turned to the woman and said,
Your sins are forgiven. (48)
And while those around buzzed that he would say something like that, he told her,
Your faith has saved you; go in peace (50).
How about you? How deep is your love? Are you like Simon? Are you so unaware of how bad your sin is, are you so unaware of how much you have been forgiven that you take Jesus for granted?
When we fail to understand God’s forgiveness in our lives, it results in two things. A self-righteous attitude that leads to contempt of others who are “lower” than us. And a love for God that is so shallow as to be non-existent.
But when we truly understand God’s forgiveness, it naturally results in a heart of thanksgiving and love towards God, and a heart of grace and mercy towards others.
What kind of heart do you have?