Luke 7:36-50 — to whom much is forgiven
“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” (Luke 7:36). Did this man need to be forgiven?)
- Jesus knew what would happen in that house. He had two messages to deliver to two individuals at opposite ends of the societal totem pole…and at opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. Each person got to hear both messages. Notice how this compares with Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:9-14.
“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” (Luke 7:37).
- She was a sinner with many sins.
- Apparently they were sins of immorality, though we aren’t told that explicitly.
- Apparently she was accustomed to men holding her in contempt, and using her for their gratification.
“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” (Luke 7:38).
“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” (Luke 7:39).
- Simon was wrong in his attitude toward both Jesus and the woman. And yet, he had a valid “concern” about the propriety of allowing such a woman to treat you so sensually.
- I have valid concerns about some people, but my attitudes are more Simon-like than Christ-like. Reflecting back on last Sunday’s lesson, my attitudes are the beam in my own eye.
“And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on” (Luke 7:40).
- Jesus responded to the man’s thoughts!
- Jesus didn’t defend himself or the woman; rather, he spoke to Simon’s own need.
“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty” (Luke 7:41).
“And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” (Luke 7:42).
“Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged” (Luke 7:43).
“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” (Luke 7:44).
- This sounds like Simon, though he honored Jesus with the invitation, dishonored Him by not extending certain cultural considerations to Him.
“Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet” (Luke 7:45).
“My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment” (Luke 7:46).
“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” (Luke 7:47).
- Simon saw the woman (and likely the woman saw herself) as far more sinful than he was — more sinful in quantity as well as in evilness. What Jesus said made it plain that the abundance and depth of sin makes no difference when repentance, forgiveness, and love are applied.
- The woman was forgiven…and knew it. Likewise, Simon knew he was not forgiven. But in what He said, Jesus held before Simon the opportunity to repent.
- Those who love Jesus enough to repent of their sin receive His forgiveness for that sin. That forgiveness begets more love in the heart of the repentant, forgiven sinner.
- The flesh is inclined to consider the greatest sinners, even when forgiven, as the least of saints. Jesus said such sinners love Him the most, which should make them the greatest of saints! At least in this case, the degree of love was according to the degree and abundance of sins forgiven (the degree of forgiveness received, if you will).
“And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48).
- We aren’t told anything about her having repented. But perhaps that is what her appearance at Simon’s house was all about. Perhaps Jesus had forgiven her in an earlier, unrecorded encounter and she had come to express her grateful love. Or perhaps her tears expressed her repentant sorrow and her gift expressed her grateful love — and Jesus, knowing all things, responded to the message of her heart though her tongue communicated nothing.
“And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” (Luke 7:49).
- Forgiving sin is God’s business (Psalm 130:4; Daniel 9:9; Luke 5:21).
- Not only was Jesus about the Father’s business, this was also His own business!
“And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
- He ignored the thoughts (and comments?) of the others in favor of speaking further to the woman.
- Not only did she receive forgiveness in “exchange” for her love, she received salvation because of her faith. She could leave the place in peace!
Some additional lessons for me
- Don’t reject people because of their sin.
- Don’t treat people with contempt. Don’t even think of them that way.
- The place for forgiveness is at Jesus’ feet.
- Repentant sinners find acceptance from Christ. They should also find it from Christ’s people.
- How shall I not love Him who has forgiven me? How shall I not love Him who is ready to forgive me?
You might also be interested in reading one of my short blog posts on this passage from 2007: With a Pharisee?