Parables Part 4 - Forgiven Much
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
I love this parable, and the teaching and situation that accompany it. Jesus was eating in the house of a Pharisee and this woman, who was of ill repute, came in and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed his feet with a fragrant oil. The Pharisee was indignant that Jesus, a teacher, would allow such a woman to even touch Him. Jesus replied with the above parable and the situation unfolded from there. There are a couple of important lessons we can learn from this.
First, Jesus was not afraid of sinners, nor did He put them down for their pasts or their issues. Instead, Jesus touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable, and offered forgiveness to them. We can learn from this because we in the church are called to do the same thing. We are to love those whom the rest of society has cast off. We can welcome those whom others would refuse to welcome. When we don’t, we are like the Pharisee, thinking we are better than those around us. When we do, we are like Jesus who exemplified love and forgiveness.
Second, we learn a lot about forgiveness in this passage. One of the reasons I love this parable so much is because I am one who has been forgiven much. I recognize my own sinfulness and how much God has cleansed in my life by the blood of Jesus. That is not to say that I am perfect or that I don’t have a lot of growing to do, because I do. However, it teaches us that there is no sin so great that God will not forgive. The only sin that is unforgivable is to reject the free offer of salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ.
Finally, those at the table were astonished that Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins. We know He could because He is God and only God has the authority to forgive sin. We have been given a gift of being able to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us, however, we do not have the authority to forgive sin. We can declare sin forgiven based on God’s Word when a person repents and comes to Jesus. But ultimately, only God can forgive sin. Forgiveness is such a wonderful concept and practice. When we are forgiven we are set free from our sin and shame, from death and destruction. When we offer forgiveness to others we are freed from our own bitterness and desire for revenge. Have you been forgiven much? If not, come to Jesus and receive His forgiveness. If so, offer the same forgiveness to others that God has given to you!