WEIGHED IN THE BALANCE
"Jesus said to him, 'Simon, I have something to tell you.' 'Oh? Tell me.' 'Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker cancelled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?'
"Simon answered, 'I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.' 'That's right,' said Jesus. Then turning to the woman but speaking to Simon, He said, 'Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn't it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If forgiveness is minimal, gratitude is minimal.'
"Then He spoke to her: 'I forgive your sins.' That set the dinner guests talking behind His back: 'Who does He think He is, forgiving sins!'
"He ignored them and said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.'" Luke 7:40-50 (The Message).
Simon was a Pharisee! A Pharisee, a man with a huge ego problem!
The eyes of all the dinner guests were on him. No doubt they were all Simon's cronies, friends and supporters, Pharisees and religious types who keenly felt his embarrassment because they were in this together. They were probably thinking what he was thinking when the woman made her appearance and washed Jesus' feet.
Why did Jesus name and shame Simon's behaviour so ruthlessly? Before the woman's intrusion, He said nothing to him about his lack of common courtesy. He let it pass until the woman did for Him, out of humility and great personal cost, what Simon should have done as the host through a servant.
This whole dinner date thing was an absolute farce. Firstly, eating with Jesus as a sign of reconciliation was a sham. Simon had issues with Jesus along with all the other Pharisees and reconciliation was the farthest from his intention. Sitting at the table with Jesus was a company of hypocrites.
Secondly, he publicly humiliated Jesus and showed his contempt for Him, and no doubt for His disciples as well, by ignoring the protocol of hospitality. After all, Jesus was a rabbi, one on the same level as His two great contemporaries, Hillel and Shammai, and He should have been received with great honour.
And Jesus noticed but said nothing until Simon revealed his contempt for the woman as well. Then He jumped in with one of His famous and pointed stories. Simon would immediately have recognised who he was in the story if he were honest -- the ungrateful debtor. Once again we see how Jesus differentiated between Simon's and the woman's hearts. In the presence of Jesus, the woman was aware of her own sinfulness and wordlessly craved forgiveness. In the presence of the woman, Simon preened and congratulated himself for not being like her -- at least in the public eye!
The outcome for the woman was peace; an inner sense of wellbeing because her past had ceased to exist. She left Simon's home deeply in love with Jesus. Simon, on the other hand was both uncomfortable and angry, along with his peers. Instead of loving Jesus for freeing him from the guilt of his past and giving him a new start, he was seething with rage at being exposed, and determined to get even with Him when the opportunity came.
He was, no doubt, joined by his other dinner guests who were outraged at Jesus' treatment of the woman. 'How dare He forgive her sins! Who does He think He is?'
Like them, it all depends on how we see ourselves in the light of who Jesus is. We can ignore Him and compare ourselves with those whom we hold in contempt or we can allow His light to expose our darkness and experience the freedom of forgiveness and a new life.
The choice is ours.
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