“Therefore I [Jesus] say to you [Simon], 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.’ And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” (Luke 7.47-50).
Read the focus text again paying particular attention to who is speaking as well as the person(s) being addressed. At first, Jesus was speaking directly to Simon. When He announced that the sinful woman’s many sins had been forgiven, Jesus was not even addressing the woman; He was yet speaking to Simon, the host of the meal. The parable had done its work and now Jesus made doubly sure that Simon and all others who heard, learned the lesson.
As of yet, so far as we know, the woman had not uttered a single word. Though she did not speak, she did plenty! She wept, she washed Jesus feet, she wiped Jesus’ feet, she kissed Jesus’ feet, and she anointed His feet, but she uttered not a word as Luke records it. Whether she actually spoke or not is not the point; the focal point is that her words were of little significance, but her deeds meant everything!
Neither had Jesus spoken to the woman as far as the inspired record goes. He certainly took note of what she did, but mentioned not a single word that she said. He rehearsed for Simon’s benefit all that she had done for Him, but made no mention of what she said. Yet, in spite of it all, Jesus stated a conclusion supported by fact. Simon on the one hand reached a conclusion (i.e. Jesus was not a prophet) based on assumption, but Jesus reached a conclusion based on fact. Note the conclusion that Jesus reached and the way He worded His conclusion.
“She loved much!” How did Jesus know she loved much? We all know the answer! We know that love is not expressed in mere words, but rather is expressed in deeds. She had not said she loved the Christ, but she certainly demonstrated it. Her deeds stood in stark contrast to the words of the Pharisees and other religious leaders; they frequently spoke of their love, but seldom demonstrated it.
“But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” The Pharisee, Simon, needed little forgiveness (at least this was his own estimation of himself). Hence, Jesus summarized the situation very well when He said, “…the same loves little.” What a stinging and undeniable rebuke! She was a sinner and loved much; Simon was the righteous one and yet, he loved little! The key to beginning to understand these events is the simple recognition that the way God treats sinners sometimes depends upon how sinners treat Him!
John certainly had it right when He wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3.18). Simon loved in word, but the sinful woman loved in deed and in truth! Never a greater contrast has been drawn. Never a greater lesson has been taught! How do I love? How do you love? Now these are relevant questions!
1. Re-read the text and its context. How many words are recorded spoken by the sinful woman?
2. What discussion did Jesus have with the woman? What were Jesus’ first words addressed directly to her?
3. What does it mean to love “…in word or in tongue?” What does it mean to love “…in deed and in truth?”
4. What is different about the way God views sinners and the way we typically (take Simon for instance) view them?
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