Luke 7:31-70 :
“To what then will I liken the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace, and call one to another, saying, ‘We piped to you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned, and you didn’t weep.’ For John the Baptizer came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Wisdom is justified by all her children.”
One of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him. He entered into the Pharisee’s house, and sat at the table. Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that he was reclining in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of ointment. Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what kind of woman this is who touches him, that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
He said, “Teacher, say on.”
“A certain lender had two debtors. The one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they couldn’t pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most?”
Simon answered, “He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most.”
He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss, but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Those who sat at the table with him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
I want to start by admitting that I’m not sure I understand the first few verses here. It sounds to me like Jesus was revealing the motives of the religious leaders by demonstrating to the people that no matter what John or Jesus did, they were getting accused. In American slang it is sometimes said: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, meaning that no matter what you do in that situation, you will not be viewed as doing something good. It is true that, no matter what Jesus meant in these first few verses, that Jesus and John were mistreated in a horrible way by the religious leaders of that day. The fact is that Jesus and John turned the hearts of the people and sinners toward God and I can see that these people who believed were like “children” of the message that they stood for. They were evidence that what they were doing was working.
This next story is famous. You can watch it on the “Jesus film” (along with many of these scenes from Luke). They did a good job of portraying this part. When we realize how much we are forgiven, we really do love more. It is interesting to read that Jesus told the woman that her faith saved her. We all know that it is actually Jesus who does the saving, but it is also true that without believing in Jesus ability to save, you cannot be saved. This is very important for us to understand today. Just because people do good works or because they were born into a particular family, doesn’t make them “saved.” If that were the case, the religious leaders might be right about themselves since it appears that they did some good works and were born into the families of Israel. Jesus makes it clear that it is faith that saves and nothing else.