36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured 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 who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, a and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The woman in this parable is more than likely a prostitute. The Pharisee does not look well upon her for this reason since she is considered dirty and an outcast religiously in the society. However, even though she was not invited, it was very common for people to stop in at dinner parties as such; they just stay out of the way and observe the teaching or discussion. For this reason, it shows great boldness and humility that the woman approached Jesus in the way she did. This was also an offense to the Pharisee, who was not moved by Jesus in the same way due to his self-righteousness and rule-following attitude. The Pharisee was also surprised by the fact that Jesus allowed her to touch him, because allowing the woman to touch him would have made him dirty in terms of approaching the temple. Jesus confronts the condition of Simon’s heart and reveals who He is. The most amazing piece of this is His ability to teach right out of the situation that presented itself. Simon is a debtor and the woman is a debtor. The woman knows the reality of her debt and Simon may or may not. One thing is for sure, he doesn’t show any sign. Either way, the parable teaches that both debts are completely canceled. Jesus’ question to Simon then is, “who will love the one who canceled their debt more?” Simon did not do any of the customary things one would do with a guest. He did not wash his feet, yet the woman washed them with her tears and hair. He did not give him the normal greeting of a kiss but the woman ceaselessly kissed His feet. He did not put oil on his head to soothe the dry scalp but the woman put perfume on His feet.
1. Do you realize how much you have been forgiven? Is your response to what Christ has done for you more like the prostitute or the Pharisee?
2. Is all that Christ has done for you a free undeserved gift that enables you to respond to life with a grateful heart and deepening joy, or are you trying to manipulate Christ in your life? Have you abandoned all to Him in the posture of the prostitute in light of what He has done? How does this response look in your relationships with people, work, leisure time, your devotions, money? Think carefully about these.
3. Do you see the connection in this story between a deepening sense of how much you have been forgiven in correlation to how much you love? When you look at problems in your relationships, politics, church, etc.; do you see yourself as part of the problem first or are you quick to be critical of others?
4. Do you see in this story that God loves you not so that you get or so that you become superior, but so you become humble and give?
The goal in this story is not to be like the prostitute but to be like Christ. The only way is for you to recognize that you, like the prostitute, have prostituted yourself to things that will not ultimately satisfy. You have built your identity, hope, and meaning around things other than Christ; however, Christ has reversed places with you exchanging His perfect life and bearing the shame, guilt, and punishment you deserved to make you His treasure. He is the perfect Rabbi, the One who could extend His hand to the outcast woman only because He knew what it was like to be the outcast Himself being stripped down and suffering alone, from which even His own Father forsook Him. It is at this cost that you are made His treasure. I pray you revel continually in His forgiveness, are freed to confront your false lovers, and extend the love of Christ knowing Christ paid the price you could not.
Devotional Author: Ryan Burleson