36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting 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 what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” 40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
As Jesus speaks to Simon he doesn’t just reveal Simon’s heart but He reveals several important principles that are as meaningful today as they were when He spoke them.
- First, just like the two people in the parable, everyone is spiritually in debt – verses 40-42
- Second, just like the characters in the parable, we can never repay the debt – verse 43
The good news is that forgiveness is available to all but forgiveness is not free, it always cost something. For the lender in the parable it cost 550 silver pieces to forgive those that were indebted to him. Forgiveness always cost something and when God said, “I will forgive you” it cost the life of his only son, Jesus, on the cross of Calvary. The Savior paid the sin debt, not so that we wouldn’t have to, but because we could not. Today when it comes to forgiveness we seem to error in one of two ways. Either we think we can pay our own way, where we get caught up in working to win forgiveness, a carrot we can never attain. Or we accept God’s payment without acknowledging the agony and cruelty of the cost. Instead of ending up with God’s grace we have a cheap grace or a “be good to get grace” life, either way we trade His treasure for trash. The woman came to Jesus because she knew she was immoral without any illusion of righteousness, but she also came crying because she knew the cost of forgiveness. Christ’s conclusion is clear, Simon, as a “high class” priest, had the same problem as the “low class” prostitute; we may measure degrees of sin but they all bring death. The woman’s wage may have been the greater debt but they both owed a debt that they could not pay.
- Third, those who Come to Christ will not be turned away (vv. 44-46)
Jesus now does something toward the one seeking that we need to see. As He continues to talk to Simon, the proud Pharisee, He shifts his position so that he faces the woman, giving her his attention and acceptance. In verse forty-four we are told, “Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon.” During the meal Jesus has His back to the woman while He facing his host, Simon. Now as Simon’s rejection of Jesus is revealed He turns away and toward the woman worshipping at His feet. Here we see who is received and the painful contrast between repentance and rejection. Jesus turned his back on his host to face this woman even though he was still addressing Simon. Simon had turned his back on this woman because of who she was and now Jesus uses her as an example to show Simon who he really is. Jesus now asks a powerful and penetrating question, “Do you see this woman?” Jesus wasn’t asking if they were aware of her presence or if they knew what she used to do but if they had seen what she had just done. In his hurry to judge her past, Simon had missed her heart in the present. In recounting what she has done Jesus revealed what Simon had refused to do. Simon may have invited Jesus to be his guest but he had omitted the common courtesies accorded to an honored guest. Jesus had chosen to overlook Simon’s intended insult because his purpose for being there was not to judge manners but to forgive sin. We feel justified to judge others because as we our focus on everyone else’s failures we fail to see self and sin. What this woman does for Jesus was more than mere manners and social niceties, they were an act of repentance and worship. She came to Jesus in faith desiring to be forgiven and was not disappointed. As her tears of repentance ran down the Redeemer’s feet she received His forgiveness. Repentance brought her both relief and release, revealing her extravagant expression of worship through a torrent of tears. We are never more at peace than when we praise because we feel forgiven, free of debt, the guilt gone and the shame silenced.
- Fourth, those who come to Christ in faith will be Forgiven (vv. 47-50)
Jesus tells Simon in verse forty-seven, “I tell you, her sins and they are many have been forgiven, she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Jesus makes it crystal clear what brought about her salvation when he said in verse fifty, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” It was faith that has saved her. What was it that she believed by faith? What was the substance of her faith that saved? She believed that if she came to Jesus as a repentant sinner that Jesus would not send her away but save her. What do you believe, who is the focus of your faith?