ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

SIMON AND THE SINFUL WOMAN

Two people with entirely different reputations. Two people with violently conflicting moral standards. Two people of diverse social status. Two people interacting with Jesus in one encounter.

Both had met Jesus before.

Both were sinners needing a Saviour.

One, Simon, did not realise he was a sinner. He did not realise that this teacher he had invited to dinner was the Saviour of the world. He did not realise that this man, to whom he did not show common courtesy, could see through his external righteousness right into the poverty of his heart.

The other, an unnamed woman, knew that she was a sinner. She didn't hide it; she couldn't hide it. Deep in her heart she had struggled with the guilt and the shame of it. The fear of God's judgment was constantly in her thoughts. There was nothing she could do about it, until she listened to Jesus.

It had happened some time before. Hearing Jesus speak of repentance and faith, hearing him offer the way of forgiveness into the kingdom of God, her guilt and shame and fear had been lifted, and now her heart was filled with incredible peace and overflowing with love and gratitude towards this man who had set her free from her deep guilt.

The cold and formal atmosphere of Simon's dinner party was shattered when this uninvited woman came in and tearfully and extravagantly expressed her grateful love. She knew, and Jesus knew, that her many sins had been forgiven.

Highly offended by her behaviour, Simon questioned the integrity of Jesus. 'Surely,' he reasoned, 'Jesus would know how sinful this woman is, if he were really a prophet? Surely, he would not let her defile him by her touch?'

But Jesus did know who she was. He knew the repentance and renewal that had taken place. He had seen her standing listening on the edge of a crowd. He had seen her heart's response.

In a pointed story Jesus explained the difference between Simon and the woman: she loves much because she knows she has been forgiven much. Simon loves little because, with little conception of his sinfulness, he also has little perception of forgiveness, and, therefore, little love.

Scripture: Luke 7:36-50

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008