Luke 7:39 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.
Recently, my son and I were reminiscing about how there is always one child in Sunday School who keeps his eyes open during the prayer to police those sinners who refuse to close their eyes (as is proper). On discovering such a wayward miscreant, the first child is compelled by his sense of justice to pronounce judgment on the second. Sinner!
If the second child has any intelligence, he or she points out the duplicity of the first. The arrogant one though, convinced of his divine rightness, remains undeterred by reality. You are the sinner!
Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of such a statement in today’s passage. In the story, Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus over for a meal, which was interrupted by a notorious prostitute. This woman made quite a scene, attempting to anoint Jesus with an expensive ointment. Overwhelmed by her love for Christ though, she wept, soaking Jesus feet with her tears and wiping them dry with her hair.
Irritated by the woman and embarrassed for Jesus, Simon muttered that if Jesus knew anything, He would not allow this whore to touch him, for she is a sinner. Jesus, knowing his heart, did not miss the opportunity. He told Simon the parable of a money lender who forgave both a large and a small debt. He then asked Simon, Which one loves the forgiver more?
It probably seemed obvious to Simon that Jesus had forgiven the prostitute more as she was the worse sinner, but I think it is likely that Simon missed Jesus’ point. Simon was not better off as he had sinned less. He had just been forgiven less because he was blind to his hypocrisy and arrogance. He imagined himself to be righteous and as such, he remained unforgiven. It was not that he had no debt. He was just was blind to it. He was the child, eyes open during the prayer, pronouncing judgment on all the other kids who broke the rules.
When I got out of treatment for chemical dependency, I began visiting the local jail and transitional housing unit for drug addicts. I needed to be around those who knew their need for Christ as I knew my need. I was a humbled sinner and I finally understood my condition. It was not that I was previously a saint. The severity of my fall just revealed my need. The truth is, I needed God all along, I just became fortunate enough to realize it.
At times, we are all Simon, looking down on those worse than us. The reality though, is that we are all the prostitute, in need of much forgiveness. In the end, the prostitute was better off than Simon, as she could see her need.
It is only those who recognize their debt who go to Christ for forgiveness. Jesus rightly pointed out that those whose need is great are in the end, the blessed.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.