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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Luke 7:44-50 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. 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. 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. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Jesus explained the acceptance of the sinful woman's humble, affectionate deeds, to Simon the Pharisee with the parable of a creditor and two debtors. A study of all the parables Jesus used to teach lessons from God's word can be found under a separate heading. Although it is doubtful whether Simon accepted and believed its scriptural meaning, this parable taught the true spirit of forgiveness that all should possess. The debtor that was forgiven the greater amount owed, showed greater humility and love for the forgiving creditor. From this we should all learn and practice, that repentant sinners, like this woman, are the ones that most need similar compassionate forgiveness, not only from God, but from all Christians. When a sinner recognizes the depth of their sinful life, confesses it to God, repents from such a life, acknowledges Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, and is baptized for the remission of their sins, he or she is added, by God, to the church of Christ, and receives the full blessings God promises to His children. When this takes place, the height of their love for God, and His Son, Christ Jesus, far exceeds the depth of their sinful life.

Such was the case with the woman of the lesson text. Jesus continues by contrasting the spiritual indifference of Simon the Pharisee to the earnest, repentant love of this woman. Whether it was due to social forgetfulness or to spiritual contempt, Simon failed to demonstrate the hospitality normally shown to a guest that had been invited into their house for a meal. Hospitality usually given to such a guest would be water and towels to wash their feet. Naturally this is needed, due to the dusty roads that, at that time in history, were traveled in sandaled feet. This was not provided by this Pharisee, and neither was the customary salutation of a kiss, which was a token of affection for one's guests. Also the usual hospitality toward a guest was to provide a perfumed ointment which was usually applied to one's head and clothing. It established a more pleasant aroma that heightened the friendly fellowship of such social gatherings.

Simon demonstrated none of these hospitable customs to Jesus. However, the repentant woman did so, and even to a greater degree than was usually extended to a guest. She not only washed the feet of Jesus, but she did so with the tears of her self-condemning sorrow, and dried them with the locks of her hair. The kiss of adoration she gave Jesus, was not given on the cheek, but, through her deep humility, was given to Him on His feet. And, again with an extremely contrite heart, she anointed Jesus' feet with perfumed ointment, rather than lift herself up to His level in order to apply it to His head and clothing. Much like the parable of the creditor and two debtors, Jesus declared to Simon the self-righteous Pharisee: Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. Jesus did not say that the woman loved much before, which earned her forgiveness now. Rather her acts of love demonstrated her realization that she had been given to a life of sin, and was now sorrowfully repenting of her sinful past. Using this example, Jesus then strongly censures Simon with this spiritual lesson: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. The self-righteousness of Simon kept him from recognizing his sins, therefore he felt little obligation to seek forgiveness, and much less an obligation to demonstrate love for God and for others.

Jesus turned to the woman, and with loving assurance, said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. Continuing Jesus told her, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Indeed, a contrite heart, filled with love for God, will bring every repentant sinner to the feet of Jesus. And, being baptized into His body will result in remission of all past sins. Simon rejected Jesus by refusing to accept this new doctrine of Christ, but He was accepted by this sinful, but repentant, woman.