21 May 2021

The Pharisee and the Sinful Woman

Luke 7:36-50

While Jesus was eating at the house of a Pharisee, a woman, who had spent her life living in sin, came and knelt at his feet. She said nothing, but wept and dried his feet with her hair and anointed them with perfume.

The Pharisee judges the woman and denies Jesus for not knowing what kind of woman she is. Jesus answers his concern with a parable about two men forgiven a debt. The one who will be most grateful is the one with the larger debt forgiven.

Although many readers may think that the Pharisee too is in need of forgiveness because of Jesus' harsh words towards him, Jesus acknowledges that the Pharisee has done little which requires forgiveness, and he is right in judging that the woman has done much in need of forgiveness. The issue is not the judgment, but the reaction.

Jesus tells the woman that she is forgiven and the other guests are taken aback. They don't know how to react to this. There is nothing divine or supernatural happening here. Jesus is teaching. This is what they should have done from the start.

No one grows up wanting to be a horrible person. Perhaps this woman was cruel to her neighbors, or abusive to her husband or children, perhaps she was a prostitute or an adulteress; the passage does not say. It didn't matter to Jesus because it had led her to a place of regret. Whoever she was, it was not what she wanted to be and she was looking for a second chance. No one in the room would give it to her until Jesus did.

We do not want to live in a world where there are no second chances, or in a world where everyone takes advantage of the generosity of others, but there is so much middle ground between those two extremes. Do not be afraid to be Jesus to someone looking to improve themselves. Do not be afraid to offer that second chance, to offer forgiveness.

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Please remember to be kind to your brothers and sisters in Christ.