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.”
Luke has just told us about John the Baptist sending disciples to ask who Jesus is: ‘Are you the one who is to come?’ Jesus tells them to look at the things he is doing that only God can do (verses 18-23).
This story begins with Simon saying to himself that Jesus is no prophet. Jesus isn’t rejecting this woman and her display of gratitude, so he thinks he must have no idea who she is. But Jesus clearly sees who she is and why she’s doing this. And he clearly sees Simon and his heart too. The story ends with Jesus doing what only God could do: he forgives her sin. Simon and his guests are confronted with the question, “Who is this who does what only God can do: forgive sins?” (There’s only one answer.)
After Jesus’ parable about how people should respond to an unrepayable debt being forgiven, they should be asking “How should I respond to Jesus, the source of God’s forgiveness and peace?”
How should I respond? Perhaps I should copy this woman.
Jesus, the only appropriate response is to come to you. I reject everything in my life that is a rejection of you. Thank you for the forgiveness that only you could give me. I love you with all my heart. I want to honour you as extravagantly as this woman did. I pour my heart out to you – you know it better than I do. Please transform my heart today. Amen.
Written by David Cornell