The Book of Luke, Jesus’ Instruction to Simon the Pharisee and forgiveness of the Woman – Lesson 95
Luke 7:39-50, Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
This passage concerns the aftermath of the worship of Jesus by the woman who was called a sinner by Simon the Pharisee.
He called her a sinner in order to distinguish himself from her and to set himself apart from her.
Simon was good at judging others and had honed that skill because he was a good Pharisee and was proud of his ability to be separate from sinners.
One thing about Simon was that you would never catch him in close proximity to sinners lest he get his hands dirty and also lose the esteem of his fellow Pharisees who believed likewise.
This was the spirit that caused him to speak within himself and to judge Jesus according to the standard by which he lived.
His way of life and thinking led him to conclude that there was no way that this man Jesus could be a prophet knowing who and what manner of woman this was that touched him.
His thoughts within himself revealed to him that a true prophet would have nothing to do with a woman like this for I would have nothing to do with a woman such as this.
You see how he judged the Lord Jesus by his own set of standards rather than by the Word of God?
This same set of standards had been used to judge the Lord Jesus earlier when the question had been asked “Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?”
And Jesus answered them by saying “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.”
So we see a major difference between the way of Jesus Christ and the way of the Pharisee and it applies in the case of this woman and how she was dealt with.
I suppose that Simon was in a way glad that this woman did what she did for it gave him an excuse to judge Jesus as unworthy of being a prophet.
Jesus was in the business of ministering to the sick but the Pharisee was only in the business of maintaining his self righteousness.
That is like a doctor who cares about his reputation, who seeks the approval of men, but cares little about his patients.
I’ll have none of him for I want a doctor who cares about me when I’m sick.
Simon loved his religion but sinners got in the way of his religion and they were to be shunned in order to maintain his religion.
In contrast to Simon, Jesus loves sinners and he makes sure he is in the sinners way for he calls sinners to Him.
Simon wanted to keep sinners out, Jesus went out to sinners.
In order to minister to the sick Jesus had to be around the sick, he had to be willing to get his hands dirty and his feet dirty for the benefit of the sick.
This, the Pharisee was not willing to do, he being so in love with his so called purity and separation from sinners.
The Pharisees lived by the principle that a righteous person will not spend time with sinners for to do so is to become impure.
Of course in order for that principle to operate there must be a category in which righteous people fit and there must be a category into which sinners fit.
But the Bible says that there is none righteous, no not one, and therefore the only righteousness that they had was self righteousness.
But you can be sure that self righteousness never impresses God in any way for self righteousness is a lie that was born of the devil to keep a man from God.
For a sinner to declare himself righteous is the highest form of hypocrisy.
Self and righteousness oppose each other for self is a sinner and righteousness is God.
But Simon, locked in his self righteousness, could not conceive of a true prophet knowingly allowing this woman to touch Him by washing His feet.
Certainly this proves that he is not a prophet for a prophet defined by the standards of Simon could never allow such a happening, being touched by such a sinner as this.
But watch out Simon, your speech thoughts are being heard by this very prophet.
If Simon were honest this hearing of his thoughts confirmed by Jesus’ answer should have convinced him that this Jesus was the Prophet of Prophets foretold in the book of Deuteronomy.
40And Jesus answering (Simon’s question was spoken only in
Simon’s mind but fully heard by the Lord Jesus) said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.
And what he had to say was the telling of a story and then the extraction of a principle from that story.
The story was a simple one.
It is not a parable clothed for understanding to only a few but it was a simple clear story that required very little explanation.
Even Simon, in answer to the question of Jesus, will reluctantly provide the principle that comes from the story.
A money-lender loaned money to two different individuals, neither of which were able to repay their loan.
Apparently it was a no security loan and there was nothing to repossess.
The one debtor had borrowed ten times more money than the other, 500 pence versus 50 pence.
500 days of common labor versus 50 days of common labor was the value of such a currency.
So in both cases it was quite a bit of money but the point is that there was a significant difference between what the two debtors owed.
However both were in a jam for neither was able to pay his debt.
The money lender had every right to have both thrown in jail but he very generously canceled the debt for both. He forgave both!
“Which of the two,” Jesus asked Simon, “would love the money-lender more?”
By Simon’s response it is apparent that he was not interested in being wholehearted involved in this story.
Instead of wholeheartedly giving an answer his answer was tepid at most, lukewarm to say the least.
It was given in the spirit of indifference, almost like some people today answer with the words to something that may require them to think about changing their ways.
They come back with the retort, “Whatever!”
43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.
Jesus confirmed the truth of his response.
In this answer Jesus states that the underlying principle is that
THOSE WHO ARE FORGIVEN MOST LOVE MOST.
Jesus now takes the principle and applies it to Simon and the sinful woman.
Simon shunned the woman because she was a sinner, and expected Jesus to do likewise. Wasn’t Simon the standard?
But Jesus rebukes Simon by showing that in every respect the woman has outdone Simon in her acts of love and devotion.
Simon did not show Jesus even the minimum courtesy of washing His feet.
This woman not only washed His feet, she did it with her tears and her hair.
Simon did not bestow a kiss on Jesus’ face; the woman did not cease to kiss the feet of Jesus, which, at first, were dirty feet.
Simon did not anoint the head of Jesus with oil, but the woman anointed His feet with expensive perfume.
I believe that Jesus only mentioned this lack of courtesy on Simon’s part because Simon lacked these courtesies on purpose, not out of ignorance.
So Jesus tells him that this woman, who Simon so much despised, outdid Simon in showing love to the Lord.
The woman was, at least in Simon’s mind, a greater sinner.
The woman was, as Jesus pointed out, the greater lover as well.
From both the story which Jesus told and from the supper which Simon held, the one who was forgiven more loved more.
Who was forgiven here?
Why was not Simon forgiven here?
Was not Simon a sinner also?
Yes, Simon is a sinner but according to Simon who was self righteous no forgiveness was necessary and therefore no love was expressed.
The Bible is clear that God wants the love of those who he has created.
He commands those who he has created to love Him and those whose sins are forgiven will love him.
The greater the forgiveness the greater the love.
Why does Jesus seek out and associate with sinners?”
Because sinners will repent and come to Jesus and find forgiveness.
God’s purpose for Jesus Christ to come to earth was to be loved by men, and who will love him but those who are forgiven by him.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
We should expect that the Lord Jesus would associate with sinners since it is true that “he who is forgiven much loves much”.
Based upon this principle we would expect our Lord to seek out those who were the greatest sinners (and in the minds of the Pharisees, this woman qualified as one of the city’s great sinners).
Simon did not love Jesus Christ for he was not forgiven for he did not see himself as a sinner and therefore was out of the range of God’s forgiveness.
He was also out the range of love for Christ for he was not forgiven.
Do you have little love or no love for the Lord Jesus Christ?
Perhaps it is because you have never recognized the fullness of God’s forgiveness.
Can a person who does not recognize himself or herself as a sinner love Jesus Christ?
No, for great love comes with forgiveness of sin and only sinners can have sins forgiven and only sinners can love God.
It comes with a recognition of what that forgiveness brings.
It comes with a rescue from the eternal fires of Hell to the peaceful bliss of an eternity with the Lord in a place that is prepared for those who love him.
How does one person love God more than another person.
It is because of an greater understanding of how wretched they are and of how unfit they are to stand in the presence of a holy God and yet beyond reason, beyond comprehension, because of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus Christ they are forgiven.
The greater the understanding of this the greater will be your love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
It pays great dividends to meditate on the forgiveness of God so as to come to a greater understanding of God’s mercy and grace that is extended to sinners and sinners alone.
This is what this woman understood.
She believed that if she came to Jesus as a repentant sinner, Jesus would not send her away.
This woman did not dispute the fact that she was a sinner.
She had no self made cloak of righteousness around her because of some acceptable position she enjoyed in society.
She knew what she was and she rejoiced at the reports that Jesus received sinners.
She came to him as a sinner, believing by faith that He would not send her away—and she was right.
Of all those who went to the dinner, only this woman is said to have left Simon’s house as a forgiven sinner.
In this age of God’s grace no one is more accessible to sinners than Christ.
No one is more repulsive to the self-righteous than Christ.
Jesus is never more approachable than He is to sinners.
In John’s gospel we read these words of great encouragement to every sinner:
John 6:37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
No wonder that is such good news for sinners!
There is hope only in the maker of that good news.
God is looking for the greatest of sinners for the greatest of sinners, forgiven, will be the greatest of lovers of God.