This week we’re talking about how Jesus was known as a forgiver. Here’s a story where he described himself that way:
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 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, 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. 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.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 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. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. (Luke 7:36-46 ESV)
Simon is a Pharisee, a religious legal expert, and powerful man. He invites Jesus over, which is hard to believe if you know how Jesus gets along with most Pharisees, but evidently this one is intrigued. He seems to respect Jesus enough to invite him to dinner and learn more. He’s testing Jesus – is he a true teacher of the Jewish law, or a fraud, or a heretic?
Well, he thinks Jesus fails the test, because he allows a woman known to be a sinner to wash his feet with her tears and anoint them with oil. If Jesus was really a prophet, really speaking for God, he would have sent the woman away, lest she make him ritually unclean and unholy. Then Jesus proves himself to be even more than just a prophet, when he announces that’s what the man is thinking without speaking. He’s playing this guy.
Now, she didn’t break in – in those days doors would be left open, and many people came and went. With a noted religious teacher in the house, this place was probably busy as all kinds of people came to hear him speak.
BUT this woman was different. As a known sinner, which probably means she was a prostitute, walking into the home of a religious law expert was very, very risky.
She was apparently so grateful for something he’d done, that she walked right into a Pharisee’s house and went over the top in her gratitude.
Simon, on the other hand, did the bare minimum for Jesus. He didn’t fulfil his duty of hospitality in their culture, by washing Jesus feet or even having a servant do it. In a strange reversal, Jesus is saying the woman, known to be some kind of awful sinner, has been more respectful, more hospitable, more respectable, than the prominent member of society with the fancy house. Ouch.
Question: Why do you think she would be so thankful? What debt could Jesus be referring to?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]