Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
Scripture Luke 7:36-50
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.
In this last week of Advent, we reflect on the generosity of God toward us, and we respond in like manner. I have always focused on the woman when I read this story in Luke. It is a story of a sinful woman who receives forgiveness from Jesus and anoints his feet with expensive oil. This woman's heart is filled with such love and gratitude that she walks into a formal dinner uninvited, to show Jesus just how grateful she is. She weeps over his feet and dries them with her hair and then anoints him with expensive, fragrant oil. The oil is worth a year's salary, but she does not mind because she knows that she will never be able to repay Jesus for all that he has done for her.
However, this story is also about Simon the Pharisee. Why does Jesus go to Simon's house? The parable that Jesus tells at dinner gives us an idea. Jesus tells the story for Simon's sake. The first debtor, forgiven little, is Simon. Jesus compares Simon's condition to that of the sinful woman. He is a good man who has lived a good life. Jesus knows this. He knows all of Simon's good qualities. But Jesus tries to help Simon understand that being a good person is not enough. Simon needs more. He needs love in his heart, and Jesus hopes the example of this woman will help Simon to change, so Jesus goes to extra lengths to reach Simon.
Jesus proves to Simon that he is more than just a prophet by reading Simon's thoughts. He does not have to do this, but he knows the question in Simon's heart. Jesus shows Simon his sinful attitude. He compares Simon's lack of hospitality with the woman's excessively hospitable actions toward Jesus. These things that Jesus mentions (no water to wash his feet, no customary kiss, no oil on his head) are things that Jews normally did for any guest who arrived. The anointing was usually for VIP's. Simon has not done any of it. Jesus is saying to Simon, your behavior shows the condition of your heart. You might think you are the better person, but your loveless attitude reveals the opposite. In contrast, the woman has given her very best--all she had--as a love offering. Jesus says her great love is evidence of the fact that she has been forgiven much.
However, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived-- the things God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
Questions for Discussion and Reflection
1.Whom do you identify with most today? Simon or the sinful woman?
2. What is Christ challenging you to do?