Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Jesus was invited to dinner at a Pharisee named Simon’s house. A woman heard that Jesus would be there, and even though she wasn’t on the guest list, she showed up. Often, when a rabbi was invited to an event in someone’s home, uninvited people came to listen to the guest teach. The woman brought an expensive jar of perfume in case she could get near Jesus. And she was able! As she approached him, she began to cry, and as she cried, she wet Jesus’ feet with her tears. She wiped her tears off his feet with her hair, she kissed his feet repeatedly, and then she anointed them with her perfume. What she did was a sign of utmost respect. The price of the perfume was something that she probably couldn’t “afford” to pour out, but she did so anyway. Everyone present at the meal saw this. The wiping, kissing, and anointing went on for some time. Simon looked at Jesus with disappointment. If Jesus were any type of prophet, he would have known a sinner was touching him. This woman had a bad reputation. In fact, she was probably a prostitute who had come to Jesus for forgiveness. Simon thought Jesus was clueless. But Jesus knew exactly what Simon was thinking. He asked Simon in a parable which debtor would love a lender more, one released from a small debt or one released from a large debt. Simon answered the large debt, and his answer was right.
The problem with Simon and the rest of the Pharisees was that they honestly believed they were not sinners. They compared themselves with other people instead of with God and because of this, they felt superior. If God were going to let anyone into his kingdom, surely it would be them. They failed to realize that God never asks us to compare ourselves with ourselves. We are to compare ourselves with God. And when that evaluation takes place, we all fall short. No one ends up judged “good.” Simon needed the forgiveness of God just as much as the woman did. Her faith saved her, and she loved much as a result. If you are forgiven, think of a way to express your gratitude to Jesus today. Try to spend an extra ten minutes thanking him and praising him for all that he has done for you.