“Once upon a time, there were two men in debt to the same money-lender. One owed him fifty pounds and the other five. And since they were unable to pay, he generously cancelled both of their debts. Now, which one of them do you suppose will love him more?”“Well,” returned Simon, “I suppose it will be the one who has been more generously treated,”
Do you feel generously treated?
This once upon a time story is a response to a man named Simon that asked a much different question of Jesus. This scene from Luke 7 is a dinner at Simon’s house, Jesus as a guest, other men at the table. A “bad woman” who is most likely a prostitute, walks into the house, massages Jesus dirty feet, uses her tears to wash his feet, kisses them, anoints his feet with perfume and them dries them with her hair. What!? Yeah, that was Simon’s response too. This can’t be happening! He’s gotta be thinking that on a lot of levels, this cannot be allowed. To use Simon’s own words, “If this man (Jesus) were really a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of a person is touching him. He would have realized that she is a bad woman.”
Jesus’ kind, but accurate response to Simon, “I came into your house but you provided no water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There was no warmth in your greeting, but she, from the moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave me no oil for my head, but she has put perfume on my feet.”
I read this story and, to be completely honest, a lot of me wants to be Simon. It’s a lot easier and less risky to be Simon. To appear to have it all together, to follow the Law, to “host” Jesus. However, a closer look at Simon reveals that he offered Jesus (and I’m assuming other guests that came to dinner), no water-no warmth-no oil. In contrast, the woman who had no business being in the room is the one that Jesus singled out. And what is it that he said to her, what is the one thing he said? “It is your faith that has saved you. Go in Peace.” Faith is simply belief, so what did she believe? What did she believe about herself and Jesus that caused her to walk into a room full of men, some of whom she may or may not have slept with, single out Jesus and begin to do all those intimate things to his feet?
It’s her belief that she was loved that saved her. This “bad woman” responded to the love of Jesus with, “so much love” because she believed (had faith) that she was loved by Jesus. Simon, the Pharisee, must not have believed he was loved and forgiven. Otherwise, he would have instinctively provided water, warmth and oil. A person who believes that they are loved by Jesus responds with “so much love.”
I want to become more like the “bad woman” who has had her debts generously cancelled, the one who has been more generously treated. God is so generous! We have all been generously treated, whether we believe it or not. God has so much love for us, and we get to respond with so much love toward him and others we encounter today.