We’ve already learned that we need to forgive. We’ve seen Biblical ways to do so, and we’ve discussed our responses when someone hurts us. This week, we’re going to move on to answer the question How do I know if I’ve really forgiven someone?
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 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, 38 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. 39 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.” Luke 7:36-39 (ESV)
Who was this woman? And why did the Pharisees look down at her? (The Pharisees were a Jewish sect who prided themselves on good works. They were concerned about outward appearances more than matters of the heart).
And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 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. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:40-50 (ESV)
Rather than confronting the Pharisees directly, Jesus chooses to tell a story. Why do you think He chose to do that? I think that He chose this path because it’s easier to see a parallel (which he made quite clearly in this passage) after you’ve heard a story. If Jesus had skipped the story and just started talking at verse 44, would the point be as clear? I think that both aspects of this passage are important – the story as well as the direct application. It helps me to understand that I am the sinner who owes much. I should be the sinner that loves much as a result of the forgiveness offered.
I’d never really paid attention to verse 47 before. Her sins were forgiven because she loved much. She didn’t care what people thought of her. She saw her sin and she showed her love for the One who could forgive her. Simon, on the other hand, looked down upon her and didn’t show Jesus common respect. Simon didn’t think he needed forgiveness. He thought that he was doing fine because his outside was fine. The woman poured out her treasure and showed humility and appreciation for Jesus.
How does this story apply to you? Are you more like the woman, knowing that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness? Am I more like Simon, who is concerned about external appearances?
How does understanding the depths of my own sin impact my thoughts of forgiveness?
There’s a lot to ponder in this part of the lesson. I trust that you will prayerfully consider the implications of this passage on your life, and I look forward to meeting with you on Wednesday.