March 24, 2017
“And He said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48)
…Jesus taught this same truth in a similar parable recorded in the Gospel of Luke. (Luke 7:36-50)
As Jesus was dining with a Pharisee, a woman who was a sinner and had experienced salvation through Jesus began washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The Pharisee had not washed the feet of Jesus. In that culture, not washing the feet of an invited guest was like refusing to shake hands. To this woman, this mean that the Pharisee had not even extended common hospitality to her Lord and Savior, whom she loved so very much.
While the Pharisee was thinking lurid thoughts about this gesture on the part of the woman, Jesus told him a parable about two men who owed debts to the same wealthy lord. To paraphrase, one owed him $500, and the other $5,000. The wealthy man forgave both debts. After telling this story, Jesus asked the Pharisee which man would have loved their benefactor most? The Pharisee answered, “the one who owed him the greater debt.”
Jesus then asked the Pharisee, “Do you see this woman?” The question was actually, “How do you see this woman?” Jesus challenged the Pharisee to think about how he saw the sin of that woman relative to how he saw his own sin. He obviously saw her sin as the great debt and his own as the small debt. Jesus then applied His parable for the Pharisee by announcing, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, the same loves little.”
Jesus then said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you.” These words of Jesus clearly affirmed the Gospel reality that she was not saved because she loved much. She loved much because she had saving faith. The real sinner at the luncheon in that Pharisee’s house was not the forgiven sinner who loved much, but the self-righteous Pharisee named Simon.
This parable focuses the reality that we cannot isolate our own forgiveness of sin from our attitude toward the sins of others. That is why Jesus wrapped His petition for the forgiveness of our sins in the same package with our forgiveness of those who have sinned against us.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer
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Posted by Dick Woodward
August 26, 2014
“…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:42)
It is true that some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine. It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression. There is really nothing good about sin… It it true, however, that the truly repentant contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much. This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.
At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman (who is washing Jesus’ feet.) As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous. Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!” The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us. The Pharisee was the man who had been forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a very small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others. Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our horizontal, interpersonal relationships.
The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody. His message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven. When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named, “Simon, the Pharisee.”
Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”
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Posted by Dick Woodward