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The Forgiveness of the Forgiven

The Forgiveness of the Forgiven

I wanted to share an excerpt from my book, "Consecrated in the Chaos" out of Chapter 5 on Mercy. 

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you.” "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more? "Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven."You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Lk. 7:36-50

   We have to put this story into perspective. Simon was a Pharisee. Pharisees claimed Mosaic authority for their interpretation of Jewish Laws. That would mean Simon would have been undone at the sight of her. He would have been disgusted by her actions. I imagine that he was very irritated that she was even in his house, touching his stuff, and embarrassing him in front of his colleagues. But as a good Pharisee, who wanted to talk to Jesus, what could he do but tolerate her presence? But she keeps making a huge scene. She is crying, letting her hair down, wiping Jesus feet, anointing him with perfume, and carrying on and on. The disdain, the foolishness, the waste! He knew who she was, and he had to have recognized that the perfume she was spilling all over his floor was very expensive. I am sure he was wondering who she stole the perfume from. I can imagine Simon thinking, "What a fool, if she really wanted to live right, she would do it all week like I do. She is just trying to draw attention to herself." This was so offensive to Simon's heart that he began to dismiss Jesus. “He said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, (never mind the son of God) he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner." Simon's offended heart reduced Jesus to a prophet within minutes. He began to lose faith in who Jesus was, and offense began to rise in his own heart. Didn't Jesus know who this woman was and what she was doing in her life? Why would he let her carry on like this? This is not at all what Simon had planned for the evening. Isn’t this the story that plays out in our lives? We become offended at God because of circumstance and trials or because of things not going as we thought they would or should. We begin to reduce God down to nonexistent or elusive. In Simon's case in Luke, Jesus speaks up and tells Simon the parable about the debtors. He is about to pierce every heart in the room. And here it is, the show of mercy. Jesus shows mercy by giving everyone in that room a moment of reckoning for the true seeker, the truly hungry, and the foolish. Jesus explains to Simon ...

"Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?” Simon answered, #I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.” “That"s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, #Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn't quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn"t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” (Luke 7:41-47 MSG)

   And then straight to the heart of Simon, amidst all the self-talk and the hardening of his heart, Jesus says, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Lk 7:47 No more games, no more parables, just, "Your sins are forgiven". Amazingly, Jesus looks Simon in the eyes and says, "I say to YOU her sins are forgiven". He told him eyeball to eyeball, "I say to you!" He pierced the core of Simon's heart as he comforts the heart of the woman. It was like Jesus cleared the room (like he cleansed the temple Matthew 21:14-16) of religious rhetoric and then showed mercy to the one who was showing mercy. Isn't it so beautiful how Jesus loves to lift up the broken, the addicted, the afflicted, the bound up: oh the beauty of Jesus. Jesus has mercy on someone that, in the eyes of man, does not deserve mercy. But Jesus knows better. Jesus took the situation head on and every person in the room was faced with a question that required an action. "Who is this man?".

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