A Sinful Woman Anoints Jesus Part #2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
But Christ, who is also God, knew not only the character of the woman and that she had been converted, but He also knew the secret thoughts and reasoning’s of the Pharisees, and when He answered them, He showed that He was more than a Prophet. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. Then Jesus gave this parable, “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” Five Hundred pence, was about $70.00, and fifty pence about $7:00. The debt of one was ten times that of the other. To put this into the proper perspective, you need to know that one pence was what a common worker got paid for a day’s labor, so one man owed 500 and the other 50 days. But make a note of the symbolism here, for in the parable the two debtors are like the woman and Simon, and the one to whom the debt is to be paid is God. The law at this time permitted a man to take his debtors to court, and the outcome could be that the debtor, his wife and his children could be sold to pay the debt. They would become slaves to their creditor or to another, but notice here that the man does not take them to court, but that he pardons their debt. They both appreciated his great kindness that he showed them by forgiving their debt, but Jesus asked the Pharisee, which one of them would love him, the most. What can we learn from this teaching of Our Lord? I believe that there are several things here for us:
1. That sin is a debt; and sinners are debtors to God Almighty. God has a case that He can make against each of us for the injury that we have done to Him through sin and disobedience; and for the omission of our duty to Him, that is, for ignoring him and neglecting the prayer and praise that are due Him.
2. That some are deeper in debt to God, because their sin is greater. The Pharisee was the debtor that owed a lesser amount, but he was a debtor, just the same. However, he did not think of himself as a debtor; but he believer that God was indebted to him because of his righteousness that came through good works. This woman, who had been a scandalous, notorious sinner, was a great debtor.
3. That whether our debt is more or less, it is more than we are able to pay. Silver or gold will not pay our debt, neither will sacrifice and offering, and no righteousness of our own will pay it. Our repentance and future obedience will not pay it, because that is what we are already obligated to do.
4. That the God of heaven is ready to forgive poor sinners upon the basis of the Gospel, even though their debt may be very great. If we ask forgiveness and believe in Christ, our sins will not be the cause of our ruin. God has made it known that He will be gracious and merciful, and ready to forgive sin, and His Son has purchased a pardon for all who repent and believe. His Gospel promises forgiveness to us, and it is available too all.
5. That those who have their sins forgiven, are obliged to love Him, and the more that is forgiven them, the more they should love Him.
Jesus had asked Simon, “Which of them will love him most”? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. Simon’s words were more than an answer; they were a judgment as well, since by his answer, he without knowing it, pronounced judgment against himself. It was obvious from his treatment of Jesus, that he did not love Him. He did not believe that he was a sinner, and for that reason he did not need a Savior. The woman, by contrast, loved God very much. She had come to understand her great sinfulness, even though she did not yet know His forgiveness. The Lord recognized that this woman loved Him, that she had faith, and that she understood who He was. Her understanding, love and faith were not arrived at through reasoning, but she felt their effects in her heart, where she had a deep since of her own sin, humbleness, and love and devotedness to Him. Everything showed, that in her heart, that she had the proper response toward God.
The woman stood behind Jesus, “And 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. Jesus called Simon’s attention to the woman, and to what she had done, and then He made a comparison between her and Simon, so that he might mull over the preceding parable, and see how fittingly it could be applied to the present situation. He had come to Simon’s house at his request and for that reason He might have expected the usual good manners. He had not received any water, with which to wash his feet, which was a thoughtfulness that was very common in those countries, since they walked dusty roads, without stockings, and with only sandals. It was a very refreshing courtesy, and was done for travelers, strangers and guests, and was typically performed by the servants of the house. The woman had washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair, however, Simon had not given Him water to wash with or a towel to dry with.
And then He went on to say, “Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.” A kiss was the usual greeting in these middle-eastern countries. Sometimes the hand was kissed and at times the cheek. It looks as if Simon went out of his way to make a difference between Jesus and his other guests. I believe that he greeted each one with a kiss, and that he made sure that his servants washed their feet and anointed their heads with oil, except he ignored Jesus, which was an expression of great disrespect. Again, the disparity is clear; the woman had repeatedly kissed his feet, and she poured an expensive, fragrant ointment on His feet, instead of the common olive oil that Simon used.
This woman revealed by her actions of love, how very deeply she appreciated what she had received, but Jesus said this to Simon, “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.” She was a greater debtor, than the Pharisee, but Jesus declared that her sins were forgiven. Her love was the result, and not the cause of her forgiveness. Our sins are not forgiven because we love God, but we love God, because they are forgiven. There are people today, who like Simon, pass judgment on passionate Christians, because they themselves are not willing to come up to their level of loving obedience, but instead they opt to reside in cheap and easy religion. In saying these things to Simon, He removed his objections and stopped his murmuring and complaining. She had been a great sinner, but no longer, because now she was a pardoned sinner, and not the guilty and filthy creature he had imagined. The guilt of all her sins was removed, and she was cleansed from all her filthiness. She was like the greater debtor in the parable; though her sins were many, the whole score was made null and void. Simon was like the lesser debtor in the parable, whose debts, in his own opinion, were few or none; at least ten times less than the woman’s, and he had no awareness of sin or desire for forgiveness. He felt no obligation to Christ and for that reason he was very sparing with his love and respect, and even withheld the common courtesies that were owed to Jesus.