The reading is long, but it has to be taken in at one time to gather its richness.
“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.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ So he said, ‘Teacher, say it.’ ‘There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have rightly judged.’ 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 wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 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.’ Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” (Luke 7.39-48).
Simon spoke to himself in rehearsing the conclusion that he had reached about Jesus. He thought, “He is not a prophet as evidenced by the way He treats this woman [sinners].” Simon spoke to himself, but Jesus spoke directly to him about his conclusion. Simon reached a conclusion not based on fact, but the actions of Jesus in reading Simon’s mind said volumes to Simon. To Simon’s credit, he apparently realized that something was terribly wrong; how could this man [Jesus] know what he had been thinking if he was not a prophet. But, in order for Jesus to be a prophet, Simon’s conclusions about how sinners ought to be treated were flawed! Simon was in quite an unenviable situation! The obvious facts did not square with his conclusions, and that could mean only one thing: Simon’s conclusions were wrong!
How does God treat sinners? Well, obviously not the way Simon thought! The Pharisees claimed intellectual and religious superiority, and yet they failed the simplest of tests. The Pharisees’ conclusions about how they ought to treat sinners was wrong because the conclusions they reached about how God treats sinners were also fundamentally flawed. It was not necessarily the case that they wanted to be ungodly; it was just that they didn’t know God’s true character.
The very best exercise in which we can engage to know how God treats sinners is to observe how Jesus treated sinners. Had Simon believed that this man [Jesus] could have been a prophet, he would have reasoned more consistently with the facts and abandoned his erroneous conclusion! If we are to please God in any way, it will be necessary to reason correctly from the facts, not jump to biased conclusions! Next time, surely we will think long and hard enough to know that facts form the bases for conclusions and not vise versa!
1. Did Simon think he was treating sinners as God would have him treat them?
2. Why did Simon not know how God treats sinners?
3. How can we make sure that our conclusions are valid as regards the treatment of sinners?
4. How can we come to know the facts about how God treats sinners.
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