Luke 7:36-50 36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, who has the right, the power and the love to say to us “your sins are forgiven”, dear Christian friends,
“I know you did it! Are you actually going to deny it? I saw you do it! The proof is right here!”
Do those sound like words of your parents when you broke the living room lamp and would not admit it or words of your teacher when you cheated on a test and would not acknowledge it or words of your spouse when you lied about something and would not confess it? It is likely you have heard those words from all of the above at one time or another in your life. So have I!
There is someone else, however, who has spoken those words to us. It is our Savior Jesus! Though his law written in his Word and through his law working on our heart with the voice of our conscience, he points out sin in our lives in hopes of getting us to recognize it, repent of it and run away from it.
What was your reaction when a parent or a teacher or a spouse “called you on the carpet” for a wrongdoing? Let me guess. “So what if I did it!”…”I am telling the truth when I say I didn’t do it!”…”Even if I did what you say, you have done it too, so why are you mad at me?” I can identify these responses because I have reacted in the same way!
Meanwhile, when Jesus “calls you on the carpet” for something wrong you did, what is your reaction to the law of God? “Everyone else does it, why can’t I?”…”I only did it once!”…”As long as no one got hurt by it, why are you making such a big deal about it?”
Our first reaction oftentimes is to deny it or to explain it away or to shift blame, rather than to admit our wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. It is not easy to accept when someone tells us we have sinned. It is not easy to accept when Jesus tells us we have sinned.
But, hopefully, it makes us feel bad and it hurts us to know we have disappointed someone important in our life, especially our Savior, and in that emotional, sometimes physical, pain caused by our sin we will be eager to get rid of it. We will be eager to hear when JESUS SAYS TO US, “YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN!” Those words, spoken first by your Savior and then spoken by a parent, a teacher, a spouse, any fellow Christian, will enable you to I. Loathe your sin and II. Love your Savior.
Today we look further into the story of Jesus and the Pharisee Simon and “the sinful woman”, whose name and sin are both unidentified. What we learn today will help us to appreciate the work and words of Jesus even more and to apprehend that his grace is for all!
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. While “Pharisee” was a cultural and political description, it was also a religious title given to those who believed that the way to heaven was gained through their own good deeds. This attitude of work-righteousness, inborn in each of us, caused Simon to be an enemy of Jesus.
Jesus knew Simon had not invited Jesus to his house in order to be “bro-mates”. Simon did not host him as he would another friend or even a celebrity. Jesus said to Simon, “I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet… You did not give me a kiss… You did not put oil on my head.
While hearing of the things he failed to do, Simon also hears this illustration: “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Jesus wanted Simon to see how he would have treated Jesus differently if Simon had loathed his sin and loved his Savior. Jesus wanted Simon to see it wasn’t just failing to welcome Jesus properly into his home, it was failing to welcome Jesus properly into his heart.
Did Simon the Pharisee learn his lesson? While he gave the right answer to Jesus’ question, did he understand that he owed Jesus because of his sins against him, but that Jesus had canceled his debt by forgiving him? We don’t know.
But “the sinful woman” learned her lesson! When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
This was her outward act of repentance. This was her way of showing sorrow over her sins. This was her way of admitting the sinful life she had lived in the past and her desire to have Jesus forgive her.
So, Jesus speaks first to Simon to teach him and says, Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to [“the sinful woman”], “Your sins are forgiven…“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! Her idolatry, immorality, indecency— whatever sins she had committed in the past— were now erased, wiped out, “washed” away as the Apostle Paul put it in our second lesson today (1 Cor 6:11). Her faith saved her because the object of her faith was Jesus and his work, not herself and her own good works on which Simon would have depended! She could live in peace the rest of her days on earth knowing Jesus had eternal peace in heaven won for her.
I can’t tell you to wet Jesus’ feet with your tears and wipe them with your hair when you break the lamp in your living room. I won’t tell you to kiss Jesus’ feet when you cheat on a test. I am unable to tell you to pour perfume on Jesus’ feet when you lie to your spouse.
I can ask you to recognize and repent of and run away from your sins as we did at the beginning of this service and as we do each week in worship as we confess both our natural and actual sins, bringing them before the cross of Jesus to be erased, wiped out, washed away. I can tell you to do this daily at home in your prayers. I can request that you do this with your parent, your teacher, your spouse— whomever you have wronged— to let them know you are repentant and to ask for their forgiveness so you, too, can live in peace.
Jesus says to us, “Your sins are forgiven because through my perfect life I earned the perfection God demanded of you!” Jesus says to us, “Your sins are forgiven because through my death on the cross I paid the debt of your sins which was eternal agony in hell!” Jesus says to us, “Your sins are forgiven because through my resurrection from the grave I sealed my work and secured your salvation!”
Jesus’ forgiveness leads us to loathe our sin. Don’t make excuses for your evil; make confession. Don’t continue in your wickedness; run away from it. Don’t ignore your sins; dispose of them at the foot of Jesus’ cross.
Jesus’ forgiveness leads us to love our Savior. Keep trusting in him. Remain rooted in his Word. Continue serving him.
By the way, when Jesus forgives us, it has an impact on others, as it did in the home of Simon the Pharisee. The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” So many people don’t know, appreciate or live Jesus’ forgiveness and because of it their lives lack hope and peace. As you know Jesus’ forgiveness and share it, be the one to help others loathe their sin and love their Savior!