Lukeby Mike Raiter
Luke now takes us into the home of a Pharisee called Simon, where Jesus is the guest of honour at a meal. This moving account wonderfully summarises much that we have already read in Luke’s gospel. We see the joy of a sinner who has received mercy, and the callous heart of a Pharisee.
The dinner is interrupted when an immoral woman enters the house. Having presumably heard Jesus proclaim forgiveness, she publicly anoints and washes His feet as an expression of her love and gratitude.
Simon is silently outraged that a man thought to be a prophet should allow an unclean sinner to defile Him. Jesus then tells a little parable about two debtors (vv. 41–42). In the ancient world, to be in debt was a terrifying prospect; you faced prison or slavery. One debtor has a much greater debt than the other. Amazingly, the moneylender cancels both debts. The point is, the one who is more conscious of the size of the debt will be deeply thankful for the grace received (v. 43).
Jesus spoke in Aramaic and most likely used the word hobha for “sin”. But hobha also means “debt”. So, this is really a parable about two sinners, and it is obvious to everyone, not least of all Simon, about whom Jesus is talking.
The woman’s spontaneous, extravagant expression of love to Jesus is a window into her heart and a measure of how much she grasps the wonder of her forgiveness (vv. 37–38, 45). In contrast, Simon’s bitterness towards Jesus, displayed in how he had been rude in not greeting Jesus in the customary way of anointing and washing Him (vv. 44–45), is a sad testimony that while he knew about the God of salvation, he’d never personally experienced the forgiveness this God brings.
God has commanded us to love both Him and others. However, the Lord doesn’t just give a command; He also gives the power and desire to obey it. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Once we’ve met the Saviour and experienced the liberty of having our sins forgiven, we, like this woman, can only respond with lavish praise, deep love, and open-hearted thankfulness.
Why do you think some people object so strongly to the idea of grace? What can make someone truly appreciate grace?
What is it about sin that makes “debt” such an appropriate illustration?