Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”
And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Jesus was having dinner with Simon the Pharisee (a religious law expert). A woman anointed his feet with perfume and Simon was not impressed. Jesus told Simon a story about two people whose debts were cancelled and asked Simon which person would love the money lender the most. Simon guessed correctly that it’d be the one with the bigger debt cancelled.
Jesus turned to Simon and demonstrated how the woman on her knees was loving Jesus the most, by challenging Simon about his behaviour towards Jesus. Simon didn’t give Jesus water to wash his feet, or show that Jesus was special by anointing his head with oil, and yet the woman had washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed them with expensive perfume. But it’s what Jesus said next that really blew Simon’s mind.
The question had been hanging in the air as to whether Jesus was a prophet sent from God. Simon had been wondering about this, and then Jesus addressed this question head on. He turned and forgave the woman her sins. Why was this a problem? It was a problem because prophets didn’t forgive people their sins. God did. Jesus offered forgiveness to the woman, the woman responded in faith, and Jesus meted out that forgiveness – all in the presence of Simon the pharisee and the gathered guests.
Jesus, by forgiving the woman, had closed the option of him being a potential prophet. The crowd and pharisees now had to make a decision. Either he was a liar, deluded or sinister – or he was something way bigger, more important and more special than anyone could possibly imagine.
Like the woman, Simon, and the guests, we’re confronted with the same Jesus today. Each person in this story responded to Jesus in a different way. We have a choice to make too – to decide which side of the fence we’re sitting on. Who do we think Jesus is? Like the woman in this story, some people choose quickly, whereas others need time to think, and it can take a lifetime to come to a conclusion. Yet others never decide.
Today, decide who Jesus is to you. Accept that Jesus is a good teacher and a prophet sent from God, but also choose to believe that he is God.
My heart and mind are open to you
and my life is in your hands.
Help me grasp who you really are,
that I might receive your forgiveness
and be transformed by your love.
This day and for ever.
What are the different ways in which people respond to Jesus today?
What difference does it make to your life to believe that Jesus is more than a good teacher or a prophet sent by God?