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.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher. “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Luke 7: 39-43, ESV
Unfortunately, Simon’s response to the sinful woman Jesus can be familiar to those who have come to Christ later in life and are burdened by past sins. Instead of appreciating the beauty in the woman anointing Jesus with oil, he silently sits and judges, going as far as to question Jesus’ status as a Prophet, let alone as the Messiah. How often have we at various points in our walks been the same; judging someone by their outward appearance or by what we know about them, rather than how God views them?
Jesus sees Simon’s heart. He doesn’t need to hear Simon’s thoughts to know how he feels about the situation. Instead of calling him out directly, Jesus responds in parable. Jesus does this to explain how individuals with deep needs will respond to forgiveness with an extreme outpouring of love, while those with little need for forgiveness often will respond with less. In this moment, Simon is measuring himself against the woman and increasing his personal view of himself when compared to her.
In our personal walks with Jesus we might relate more to the first debtor in the parable; being in need of deep forgiveness. When we receive that forgiveness, we have an outpouring of love and thankfulness for Christ in our lives. However, while we try to maintain that mountain top experience, we can often find ourselves slipping; becoming more like Simon and falling into the motions of faith rather than focusing fully on the ways God has moved and forgiven us in our lives. This type of thinking can lead to complacency and judgement against others.
Take some time in prayer and reflection today. When was the last time you forgave someone for a great offense against you? When did you last ask God for forgiveness for an offense you made against Him? If you have something to confess to the Lord, bring it to Him in this moment.
By John Egland