The Sinful Woman and Simon (Part 2)
Jesus responded to Simon's thoughts in Luke 7:40ff - "'Simon, I have something to say to you.' So he said, 'Teacher, say it.' 'There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?' Simon answered and said, 'I suppose the one whom he forgave more.' And He said to him, 'You have rightly judged.' Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.' Then He said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Then He said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Jesus was aware of what Simon thought about Him permitting the woman to touch Him. Ironically, Simon called Jesus "Teacher," without realizing how much Jesus was about to instruct him!

The parable Jesus shared with Simon included three characters: one creditor and two debtors. The term "denarii" is plural for denarius, and a denarius was a day's wages for a working man (cf. Matt. 20:2). Thus, one debtor owed the equivalent of 500 days of labor, and the other owed one-tenth as much. Neither debtor was able to repay the creditor, and he "freely forgave them both" their debts. Jesus then asked - "Which of them will love him more?"

Simon gave the correct response, and it is likely that he had not yet realized the application to himself of Jesus' teaching. I believe the essence of the parable is this: God is represented by the lender, and the woman owed a large debt and Simon a smaller one. Simon, in his own estimation, was ten times better off than that woman, although they were equal in two senses. First, neither one of them could repay their debt of sin on their own. Second, they were equal in hope in that both were being offered God's gracious forgiveness.

Simon's response to Jesus' question was more than an answer; it was a judgment as well. Jesus had concealed Simon's conduct under the imagery of the parable and had led him to pronounce a sentence against himself. Jesus proceeded to explain three ways in which the sinful woman loved Him more than Simon did. First, since sandals were worn without socks, it was necessary for one entering a house to wash his feet. An honored guest was given this opportunity for comfort's sake. Simon had omitted this courtesy for Jesus, but the woman had washed His feet with her tears. Second, a kiss on the hand or cheek was the ordinary greeting of respect in the East (cf. Rom. 16:16). The woman continued to kiss the feet of Jesus, yet Simon had withheld this honor from His cheek. And third, anointing was a mark of honor that was usually bestowed upon distinguished guests. To anoint the feet was regarded as an extreme luxury.

Simon could have easily provided all three of these things for Jesus; he had much to offer. Many today, like Simon, invite Jesus into their lives, and then turn out to be terrible hosts. May we never be of that number!

Jesus stated that the woman's sins were forgiven because of her great love (cf. Luke 7:47,50). God has always wanted mankind to love Him (cf. John 14:15; I John 5:2,3). Our Lord also declared that "to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (Luke 7:47). Understanding this phrase properly is exceedingly important. Do not draw the conclusion that sin somehow produces love, or that much sin produces much love. With forgiveness, the amount of one's love is not necessarily proportional to the quantity of his sins, but it is proportional to what he feels to be the quantity of his sinfulness. Everyone has more than enough sin to destroy their souls, and the reason why many fail to love God as they should is because they have an insufficient sense of their own sinfulness! This was Simon's real problem.

Let us close with two other valuable lessons from this incident: (1) since all sin is against God, He is the One who has the right to forgive it (as He sees fit), regardless of the debt's size, and (2) one who considers himself to be too good to "touch" or "be touched" by a sinner will never save a soul--including his own.

We will continue studying this narrative tomorrow.