Jesus goes on to compare and contrast what the sinful woman did and what Simon didn’t do.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” ~Luke 7:44-47
The first difference — while Simon did not give Jesus any water for his feet, the sinful woman wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
Back in Jesus’ day, there were no Nikes or Doc Martens. They were either bare foot or had sandals. So you can imagine after a long day of travel along dirty and dusty roads, why it became the norm to provide a water basin for washing one’s feet when they entered somebody’s home.
And for someone like Simon, a respectable Pharisee, he probably had the financial means to have his own servant. And if there was a guest that Simon wanted to honor, he would have likely asked his servant to wash the feet of his guests. But Simon didn’t do either of these, meaning he treated Jesus below the normal standards of basic respect and hospitality for a visitor to your home.
Second, there was a difference in another measurement of hospitality. While Simon did not even kiss Jesus when he came to his home as was customary for visitors in their culture, this sinful woman has been continually kissing Jesus’ feet. Remember, Jesus’ feet were not washed. So they had dirt under the toenails and dust and caked mud all over and this woman has not stopped kissing these dirty feet.
Feet are nasty. Have you looked at your feet recently? I started noticing the nastiness of my feet a few months ago. Esp. in the heel area. They were all dry and cracked. Nasty. So I started to research how to treat dry, cracked heels and I came across Ped Egg Professional which is basically a heel grater. Then, I bought Heel-tastic, a home remedy consisting of natural oils. And then Gold Bond Ultimate healing cream for the finishing touch. These work wonders.
But Jesus wore sandals and did not have any of this lotions so I bet his feet were nasty, yet this woman is kissing his feet.
Third, Simon failed to put oil on his head, another customary act of hospitality to help a weary traveler freshen up after a long day. They didn’t have Right Guard deodorant or Neutrogena facial cream. So they used oil, a common household item. And Simon did not treat him with the most basic respect and human decency.
Jesus just walked in with dirty feet and perhaps was sweaty and smelly and Simon didn’t lift a finger even though he is the one who invited Jesus to his home.
On the contrary, this woman poured out an entire jar of perfume and wasted her entire life savings in a single act of worship and surrender and love.
Three contrasts — 1) no water basin vs. the women’s tears, 2) no welcome kiss vs. the woman kissing Jesus’ feet and 3) no oil for his head vs. the woman pouring out her alabaster jar — followed by a summarizing statement in Luke 7:47 — “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little (NIV).”
This translation almost makes it sound like because she loved this much, that is the reason why she is forgiven of her sins.
Here’s another translation that provides a more accurate translation — Luke 7:47 – “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little (NRS).”
Her sins which were many, meaning she is the 500 denarii debtor. HENCE she has shown great love. Because her sins have been forgiven an immense debt, hence she has shown great love. In other words, the extravagance of this sinful woman’s love is proof of the fact that her sins, which are many, have been forgiven.
You will love to the degree that you know that you have been forgiven an immense debt.
So the final question to pull it altogether is why does the sinful woman love extravagantly and why does the Pharisee love so sparingly?
It comes down to an awareness of one’s sin.
The sinful woman knew she was hopelessly lost in sin. She knew that her only hope was Jesus. She knew she could never repay Christ for forgiving her sins even if she had a million years. And out of this gratitude, she was empowered to love extravagantly, not holding anything back, in full surrender and worship.
What about Simon? He was a respected religious leader. He thought he was a good, moral person. He was in control of his life. He was making an honorable living. So to him, Jesus was not a Savior of his sins. He was just another Rabbi to engage in debate and gain wisdom and good teaching from.
So what is the big idea? Beware of religion. Religion doesn’t save us. In fact, it can be prevent us from being saved.
Who do you resemble more?