Simon the Pharisee
36A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee's home and got ready to eat.
37 When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. 38Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them.
39The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner.”
40Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Teacher, what is it?” Simon replied.
41Jesus told him, “Two people were in debt to a moneylender. One of them owed him 500 silver coins, and the other owed him 50. 42Since neither of them could pay him back, the moneylender said that they didn't have to pay him anything. Which one of them will like him more?”
43Simon answered, “I suppose it would be the one who had owed more and didn't have to pay it back.”
“You are right,” Jesus said.
44He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn't give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You didn't even pour olive oil on my head, but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. 47So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.”
48Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49Some other guests started saying to one another, “Who is this who dares to forgive sins?”
50But Jesus told the woman, “Because of your faith, you are now saved. May God give you peace!”
We live at a time where the spirit of entitlement seems to be pervasive and the spirit of gratitude is easily ignored. This story takes place in the house of a Pharisee. What might have been just another social time soon includes a memorable moment. Jesus is reclining at the table, with his feet tucked in behind him. And then “a woman of the city, who was a sinner” comes on the scene. Weeping she takes her alabaster flask of ointment and lavishes it on the feet of Jesus. The Pharisee took offense and hastily concluded that Jesus was not a prophet. If he were he would have put this woman in her place.
Jesus responds with a story of a moneylender and notes that being forgiven a large debt can inspire great love and gratitude. He then notes that Simon the Pharisee appears to lack some of the virtues that are manifest in this woman whom he so readily judged. No water for Jesus’ feet, no kiss of welcome, no oil for his head – all breaches of hospitality. The woman so easily disparaged in this social context is acknowledged as generous and caring and hears from Jesus those powerful words: “Your sins are forgiven.”
A diminished sense of our sinfulness is all too common among those of us who are believers, and with it comes a diminished sense of gratitude for our forgiveness. If we can capture something of the overflow the grace that won our salvation, we will better fit to live out of an overflow of gratitude which means freely offering all we are and have to the One who have saved us.
Lord Jesus, keep me from engaging in quick judgment of others, and help me to understand more deeply the forgiveness I have received by faith in you. May my life be characterized more by love and gratitude because of the lavish grace of your forgiveness.