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.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
She was a known sinner. She came to Jesus weeping, broken. She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then, in an act of utter humility, she kissed His feet and poured a flask of fragrant oil on them. The Pharisee who invited Jesus to his house watched this take place. Today’s passage shows his reaction and Jesus’ response.
Jesus reminds the Pharisee—and reminds us—that our measure of love too often correlates to the amount we feel we’ve been forgiven. A great sinner loves much; a “lesser” sinner loves little. The point Jesus is making in this passage is that we are all great sinners. Only our pride keeps us from realizing that the seed of every sin is planted in our hearts.
I had the privilege of ministering in a jail recently. The prisoners were there because they had committed serious offenses ranging from drugs to murder. As I sat with them, I was reminded of a great truth: “But for the grace of God go I.” Only the grace of God allowed me to be wearing jeans and a blue shirt instead of the orange prison uniform. Each one of us has been forgiven much, and our love should match our great debt.
Father, forgive me for thinking that another’s sin is worse than mine. Help me to always approach You with the humility of the woman at Your feet. I am a great sinner. Help my love demonstrate that. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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