his guests. The hum of conversation was punctuated by laughter or an occasional
raised voice. The crowd that followed Jesus everywhere had gathered to
look at the noteworthy guests at his table. He recognized the woman who
had somehow managed to find a place near Jesus’ feet which extended beyond
the couch where he reclined.
Simon’s face showed his disgust that this prostitute dared show her face at his home. But what could he do? It was custom for such a meal to be eaten in a public area. She was even close enough that her flow of tears fell on Jesus’ feet. She was using her long hair to dry his dusty, now wet, feet. She broke the small jar of perfume she wore around her neck. Then she poured it on his feet and cleaned off the dust of Galilee with her own hair.
Jesus saw the Pharisee's expression and heard his thoughts as clear as if he had spoken them out loud:
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.Jesus asked Simon if two people were released from a debt, one owing a day's wage, and the other only one-tenth of that amount, who would love the moneylender more?
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”Jesus acknowledged his correct answer; turned towards the woman, but continued to speak to Simon:
Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.Then Jesus made his point: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus then spoke to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven….Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The guests are all astonished, asking each other, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:36-50)
Stories had been circulating about Jesus. He had raised a widow's son to life on the way to the burial. He had given sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and had healed diseases and old injuries. He was preaching good news to the common people who were calling him a prophet. But what prophet of God had the authority to forgive sins? (Luke 5:22-26)
Jesus traveled through Galilee with this message: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Jesus stated his mission: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
This woman who had lived a sinful life heard Jesus’ message, believed him, and experienced hope. She would never be accepted by the religious righteous; but she now knew God had accepted her. She could now live a different kind of life. Her sins were forgiven because “she loved much.” She was saved and given peace with God because she believed. (Luke 7:47, 50) Her desire to be right with God revealed her love for God and God's forgiveness and acceptance through Jesus caused that love to overflow in worship.
Simon had substituted a religious life in place of love and faith toward God. He was trusting in himself to be righteous. (Luke 18:9-14) The woman knew that wasn't possible for herself. Jesus had brought the promise of the Psalms to life:
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits---Simon had forgotten the scriptures:
…How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags….(Isaiah 64:5-6)And
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 59:20)The Redeemer sat with religious Simon in his home, unrecognized by him, but it was the sinner who believed and repented who was redeemed and received salvation that day.
For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Who Is This Who Even Forgives Sins?