Reading: Luke 7:36-50
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
This passage never ceases to amaze and astonish me. The Pharisee, who thought he was behaving as if he himself was doing a favor by receiving this Galilean into his house, and the sinful woman, who washes the Lord’s feet with her own hair and tears.
Let us think about these two questions:
How do we relate to Jesus: distant and self-sufficient like the Pharisee, or seeking to approach Jesus in search of grace like the woman?
What do we consider our debt to the Creator to be? How much have we been forgiven?
The debt that each of us owes is that of sin. Who of us does not have sin in himself? Can we believe, like the Pharisee, that we have been forgiven little?
As commentator Mathew Henry tells us, “No one can truly perceive how precious Christ is, and the glory of the gospel, except the brokenhearted.”
Perhaps the most precious image of the passage is the final one, when the Lord, the woman hearing forgiveness from the Savior’s own lips.
And the astonishment of those who say: Who is this, that he forgives even sins?
Before their eyes is the glory of God made flesh, and they cannot see it. They are blind.
They cannot see the wonder of God transforming a life (their eyes are still fixed on the past of this sinner). They cannot be amazed at the miracle of forgiveness, because that is precisely where it becomes more evident who Jesus is.
He is the one who can forgive our sins, because He is our Creator, who became flesh, who became sin for us.
This is the madness of the Gospel!!! Who is this? It is Jesus, God Himself, taking the form of man, and man-servant, out of love for us. Can you see that and be filled with awe and gratitude?
MEDITATE: Do we recognize each day our condition as debtors who have been forgiven a great debt? Do we rejoice to see other slaves of sin being set free by the grace and love of Jesus?