Jesus Came to Save Sinners (Being Like the Sinful Woman Part 9)
This is the ninth and final part in my blog series Being Like the Sinful Woman which was originally published during Lent 2019. I introduced the story of the sinful woman from Luke 7 in Part 1. Please start there if you have not read it already.
The host of the dinner that Jesus was attending--a Pharisee named Simon--believed himself to not only be above the sinful woman (he was shocked Jesus would let such a sinner even touch His feet), but clearly also felt himself better than Jesus. I say that because Jesus rebuked Simon's self-righteousness saying: "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. " (Luke 7:44-46). Jesus was telling Simon, that while he did not give Jesus even the ordinary courtesies due a guest in his home, this sinful woman treated Jesus like the king that He truly is.
Jesus continued: "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven--for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7:47). The point here is that the woman knew she was a sinner, and because of that she sought the One who could forgive her sins, humbled herself before Him, worshiped Him, demonstrated her gratitude, humiliated herself to glorify Him, surrendered to Him completely, and gave up her most valuable earthly treasure for His sake. Simon--on the other hand--believed himself to be right with God because he strictly followed the Law of Moses, and thus when the One who could forgive any sin came into his house, Simon didn't even bother to greet Him with a kiss on the cheek as was common courtesy. He felt he had no need of forgiveness, because he was self-righteous. Because he did not believe he needed forgiveness he did not receive forgiveness.
Jesus once told a separate group of Pharisees who complained when he dined with sinners that: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came to call not the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17). Of course the point that Simon the Pharisee missed was that he, too, is a sinner. We all are. But Simon was self-righteous, like the Pharisee who, instead of repenting of his sins before God, denied that he was even a sinner, like that wicked tax collector praying near him in the temple. (Luke 18:11). Simon did not realize that he also needed forgiveness. He didn't realize that he, too should have been on his knees kissing Jesus' feet. Instead he looked down on Jesus, and silently mocked the Him as a false-prophet. He was close enough to God to touch Him, to worship in His presence, to thank Him for all the many blessings he had received, yet he didn't even realize it, because he was too consumed by his own pride and self-righteousness. Simon was the type of man Jesus often called hypocrite, not because the men were sinners, but because they failed to acknowledge their sin even too themselves or God. They were too busy criticizing the specks of dust in their brothers' eyes to see the logs in their own eyes. (Matt. 7:5).
The sinful woman, however, realized how sinful she was. She had no delusions of self-righteousness. She did not think herself above Jesus, but demonstrated her humility by bowing down and cleaning the dust from His feet. Thus, Jesus forgave her many sins. She got a clean slate. Simon's sins, on the other hand, were not forgiven. The sinful woman would die sinless, thanks to the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Because of her humility she would be exalted by the Lord. Simon would die in his sins, brought low and humbled by God.
I consider it a blessing of God that I know my many sins. I echo the words of the Apostle Paul who said "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them all." (1Tim. 1:15). For it is not the sins themselves that will damn me; Jesus died to prevent that. It is the failure to acknowledge my sinfulness, to humble myself before God, admit my sins to Him and repent of them, that would cast me from His holy presence. That is why the sinful woman, once a harlot, resides in the presence of Christ forever, while Simon, a self-righteous Pharisee, likely resides elsewhere.
"Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker and judge of us all: We acknowledge and repent of our many sins and offenses, which we have committed by thought, word and deed against your divine majesty, provoking most justly your righteous anger against us. We are deeply sorry for these transgressions; the burden of them is more than we can bear. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for your Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may evermore serve and please you in newness of life, to the honor and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (The Confession of Sin from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer 9/26/2018).