How would you respond if you received a notice from your bank that your mortgage had been forgiven, the loan marked paid? You would likely experience a wave of gratitude, followed by a sense of peace because a significant load had been lifted.
In today’s passage, Jesus was invited to a dinner party by a Pharisee named Simon. Simon’s motive is not stated, but it was likely not entirely charitable. Because Jesus was a public figure, the door of the house would have remained open, so interested people could enter and observe the conversation from the fringes. The crowd was undoubtedly large.
Suddenly, a known sinful woman—possibly a prostitute— arrived, but she didn’t stay on the sidelines. Instead, she boldly approached Jesus—washing His feet with her tears, wiping His feet with her hair, and kissing them. Then she poured costly perfume over His feet. She didn’t say anything, nor did she need to. Her humility, remorse, and devotion to Jesus were obvious.
Simon, the host, was shocked. He questioned Jesus’ association with sinners and His very identity. But he didn’t say this aloud nor did he need to. Jesus knew his thoughts. In response, Jesus told a parable. Two men owed a lender some money— one man five hundred denarii and the other fifty. If the lender canceled both debts, Jesus asked Simon, who would love him more? Simon rightly responded, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven” (v. 43).
Jesus compared Simon and the woman. Simon had given Jesus a minimal welcome, but the woman had lavished Him with love—a love that showed the magnitude of the forgiveness she had received. When the other guests questioned Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, He turned to the woman and said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v. 50).
>> Jesus offers forgiveness and peace to those who come in faith. Of what have you been forgiven? What act of love can flow from your grateful heart?
How quickly we rush to condemn, even shaking our heads at the Pharisee who hosted Jesus. Father, when we are tempted to judge others, remind us that we have been pardoned. Thank you for your forgiveness!