36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “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.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said 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. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Simon, the Pharisee, a religious leader, is testing Jesus. He is critical and disrespectful and self-righteous. He relates to Jesus via the law, and in his head, passing judgement on all. He is unaware of his sin and pride. Jesus knows his thoughts.
The woman, a local renowned sinner, found out that Jesus would be at Simon’s house. She took a risk and breached cultural boundaries as a woman and as a sinner to enter the male only space and to touch him. She sought him out and came prepared, intent on doing something generous to honour him. She knew that he did not condemn her like the others in the town. She was overwhelmed by his love. Perhaps she wasn’t prepared for her own emotional response? Jesus says she showed great love. She held nothing back and responded with everything. Physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and socially giving it all away in worship.
“But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Simon probably thought that his sin was little. I think he missed Jesus point. And blindly missed the opportunity to be forgiven much.
Lord, You cancelled my debt and I am no longer condemned. Don’t let familiarity or pride limit my response to you. Increase my love for you.
Written by Lyndall Gourlay