I don’t recall reading this parable in Bible study. Perhaps it’s because it’s a little disturbing.
Jesus is dining with a Pharisee, and something very interesting happens. From Luke 7:
37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wipedthem with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Perhaps I found this a little disturbing because I can relate to it. It’s happened to me before where I’ve felt so wretched, so sinful that I would violently cry and perform strange and self-depricating rites. Although I am persuaded I did not do any of it as sincerely as this woman here. She is aware of how grievous her sins are. She is literally at the feet of Jesus. What a profound image of submission! Jesus extols her for it, defending her before the Pharisee. He forgives her sin.
We know something that this woman doesn’t know. We know that our sin is already forgiven thorough the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. How does that make us feel?
Often, we feel nothing. We are numb. We try to pay attention to the words of a hymn we are singing, we try not to yawn. And we tell ourselves what we are feeling, how God is moving us instead of simply feeling and being moved.
Sometimes, the Gospel has no meaning for us. It is full of words, words that we have all heard before. We listen to interpretations of these words through sermons or speeches, possibly even films or songs, but still we are turned off somehow.
But there is hope! There is hope for those of us who feel empty and neglected by God. Although we are asleep spiritually, in no time we can be awakened again, with more vigor than ever! Arise fellow citizens of status symbol land! The glorious kingdom of God is here! Which compels me to revisit the famous ask, seek, knock passage, which I think I am finally beginning to understand. From Luke 11:
9 And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[b] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
There you have it! it is the Holy Spirit that the Lord is so excited to give to us if we only pray for it! And with the power of the Spirit, we will find our hope and our joy.