IF JESUS ASKED YOU: Questions Jesus Asked from the Book of Luke
Which of them will love him more?
Luke 7:40-50 SCC 10/23/11
Here is something we all need to think about. God is ready and willing to forgive the debts of people and to act graciously beyond expectation. Have you considered that recently? (1) That our God is ready and willing to forgive sinful debts. God wants to forgive us. He has a plan to do so encompassed in the life and death of His Son. He is ready and He is willing to do so. God is not holding a grudge. (2) God is ready and willing to act graciously beyond expectation in forgiveness. God will not and cannot hold out on His forgiveness of you because of the type of sin you commit. There is no sin in your life that God is not willing to forgive. You give him your sin and He will magnanimously pardon you, He can do so because of the grace that is in Jesus death. So own up to your sin. You have a gracious God willing and able to pardon you and act in ways beyond your expectation. This is what Jesus does. But beware if you think you are either unworthy of forgiveness or do not need it!
THE SINNER WHO REALIZES THE NATURE OF FORGIVENESS FREELY RECEIVED WILL LOVE GOD GREATLY IN RETURN 40-43
40 Simon the Pharisee had just reasoned that a prophet would be able to discern the type of woman anointing Jesus v 39. Yet the prophetic discernment Simon thought Jesus lacked is exposed by Jesus knowledge both of the type of woman anointing him and Simon’s thoughts, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ Simon responds cordially and the stage is set for a story, a lesson, and a revelation. Note at least that the Pharisee had enough courtesy to recognize Jesus as a teacher.
41-42 Here is a story illustrating Jesus response and reason for reaching out to sinners. We have two debtors, one with ten times the debt of the other. The idea is that one has a whole lot more to be forgiven of than the other. We have a moneylender who is willing to do something we would never imagine possible with bankers, for instance. Rather than forcing the debtors to pay he magnanimously, unexpectedly, and freely forgives the debt. Here the debt is characterized as one unable to be repaid.
Completely out of character the debt collector cancels the entire debt of both lenders. Of course, this would be welcome news indeed! With no money left to pay off the debt, instead of calling it in it was let go. The debt collector is willing to take the hit with the debt and pardon debtors. Now here is the point: How will the debtors respond? Jesus asked it this way, ‘Which of them therefore will love him more?’
43 The question is directed to Simon the Pharisee who carefully responds that the one with the larger debt will love more. Jesus endorses that as a correct response. The larger the debt forgiven, the larger the capacity for gratitude and love that emerges in response. So who is it that owes less and owes more? Simon the Pharisee owes less and the woman owes more. So we must grapple with: (1) The nature of the magnitude of our sinful debt. This is difficult for us when we refuse to look at it or imagine that we cannot be as bad off as someone else. (2) The nature of the gracious forgiveness of God. Jesus is aware of how God can transform people through forgiveness and looks forward to what God can make of them as a result.
Our capacity to love God is developed by our understanding of God’s forgiveness of our sin. You want to enhance your love for God—then deepen your comprehension of His forgiveness of your sin. It is magnanimous, unexpected, and freely given. But how do we become gratefully forgiven?
HUMBLE HONESTY ABOUT OUR SIN ENABLES GOD TO TRANSFORM US INTO GRATFEUL AND DEVOTED FOLLOWERS 44-47
44 Jesus begins with a series of contrast between the forgiven and grateful woman and the reticent
and proud Pharisee who believes he needs little help or need of forgiveness. Do you see this woman? Here Jesus will have this Pharisee who is distant from and hostile toward sinners learn a lesson from this sinful woman. One he would otherwise despise. (1) The first contrast is one of courtesy. The Pharisee was discourteous to Jesus in his own house by providing no water to wash his feet. The woman has wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Clearly, this woman has shown more courtesy and interest in Jesus than Simon did.
45-46 (2) The second contrast is one of respect. Simon gave no greeting but the woman has done so in abundance. She has been kissing his feet since the moment of his arrival. This is hyperbole stressing that she has constantly been giving attention and respect to Jesus.
(3) The third contrast is one of devotion. Simon did not anoint Jesus head with oil but the woman has anointed Jesus feet with perfume! So, what is the point? This woman, compelled by faith has clearly acted with courtesy, respect and devotion toward Jesus. The Pharisee in contrast lacks this attention and is not compelled to act this way toward Jesus at all. This is the difference between sinners who are honest about their sin and sinners who do not see their sin.
47 Here Jesus contrasts the outcome of both the response of the woman and the Pharisee. First, based upon the parable and the woman’s actions Jesus declares that her actions testify of God’s forgiveness of her sin. Because she is forgiven much (v 42) she loves much. Her generous loving of Jesus reflects the presence of great forgiveness in her life. She connects the dots between the depth of her sin and the graciousness of God. The reference to ‘forgiveness’ indicates that she is in a state of forgiveness from which her love emerges. Her sins are many Jesus says. Jesus indeed knew what sort of a woman she was (v 39). But forgiven much she gives much.
Second, Simon is pictured as one who loves little and so is forgiven little. His capacity to love God is diminished because of his unwillingness to humbly admit the depth of his sinfulness. So the woman is a product of the grace of God at work in and then through the sinner. It takes humility to see ones need for forgiveness. God honors this. The point is that Jesus grace has produced a humble loving response of grateful gratitude rather than self-righteous pharisaism. If you are willing to deal with your great sin God offers great forgiveness.
IF JESUS IS THE RESOLUTION TO OUR SIN THEN IN FAITH ONE NEEDS TO BE RESPONSIVE TO HIM 48-50
48-49 Jesus reinforces the woman’s forgiveness by announcing publicly that her sins have been forgiven. Just in case this was in doubt by her or if anyone still rejected her, God has forgiven and accepted her faith. This affirmation places Jesus in the prominent position of not only a prophet but as God since we note the Pharisees complaint in v 49. Who is this that even forgives sin? You can be accepted by God but only through Jesus. So here we have the contrast between one like a Pharisee questioning Jesus authority or like the sinful woman humbly approaching Jesus seeking with gratitude what it is he offers.
50 Jesus gives yet another affirmation this time adding that her faith has saved her. This is an official challenge to the Pharisees. Faith is the starting point of God’s forgiving response and notice it was not her actions that saved her but the FAITH THAT MOTIVATED THEM!
1. The woman teaches us that forgiveness of our sin is at the center of our relationship to God. Not our religious duty or heritage or morality but sin that must honestly be admitted to be forgiven.
2. The Pharisee teaches us that forgiveness is unavailable if we fail to see the magnitude of our sin. If we retain any sense of our own merit we miss God’s forgiveness and remain in our sin.
3. Jesus teaches us that forgiveness of and transformation of ones who recognize their sinners is at the heart of His mission. It is not to save the planet or feed the hungry or eradicate aids or bring peace.