Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
So he was disgusted by the scene. He was disgusted by what the woman did. He was disgusted by what Jesus let her do. But it was a satisfied disgust because it vindicated in his mind that Jesus was no prophet or He would have had some divine insight into who or what this woman was and never allowed her to defile or touch Him. She was well known in the city.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simple story. Money lender, a guy comes and says I need 500 denarii, that’s 500 day’s wages, a year and a half or so. And he loaned him a year and a half’s wages. And another person came and they needed, you know, two months wages or so, fifty denarii, loaned him. They couldn’t pay, couldn’t repay the debt. So he graciously forgave them both. That’s a nice story, isn’t it?
And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.
To understand that is to get an insight into the forgiveness of God. And when God forgave your sins, He then incurred the debt and Jesus Christ died to pay it. The debt doesn’t go away. It still has to be paid, but the forgiver incurs it and pays it. So it’s not just forgiveness and it’s done. It’s forgiveness and then the debt is transferred to the forgiver.
Who’s going to have the greater love for the money lender, the greater love for the forgiver? Who’s going to have the greater love?
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.
And Jesus said to him, “Hey, sorry “thou hast rightly judged,” you judge correctly.”
That’s the right answer. You got it. That’s it. Whoever got forgiven the most is going to be showing the most love. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Very simple.
Now we’ve established a principle here. What’s the principle? Great love comes from great forgiveness. Is that the principle?
Great love comes from great forgiveness. You said it. It came out of your brain and your mouth, Simon, right? You just said where you see great love you have seen great forgiveness. The greater the forgiveness, the greater the love.
You show me somebody who is a third generation Christian, second generation Christian, some kid raised in a Christian family, it’s all they’ve ever known. Don’t have some sordid life of sin to look back to. And their level of thanks and gratitude and forgiveness is little. There’s some, it’s little.
And then you show me somebody who lived a sordid, wicked, hell-bent, Godless, Christless life and were rescued in adulthood and totally transformed and there’s a whole different level of love. That’s the principle.
So, He says you just saw love like you’ve never seen it. Nobody had ever seen anybody do things like that, that’s absolutely unheard of that someone would do that. What would make somebody so loving?
What would make somebody so lavish, so grateful? I mean, this woman, this is… This is almost over the top, right? This is almost bizarre. I mean, weeping all over somebody, wiping their feet with their hair, holding on and never letting go and pouring out…I mean, this is…this is extravagant behavior. Why is this so much love being poured out? And His simple answer is, “You said it. Because somebody who has been forgiven much, loves much and this woman whose sins were many have been forgiven, for she loved much. He who has been forgiven little, loves little.”
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
That’s perfect tense. It didn’t happen right there then. That’s past. Perfect tense, something happened in the past with continuing effect. She had already been forgiven. She had been forgiven some other place, some other day, some other time. She came there already forgiven, in a state of forgiveness, to find Jesus to thank Him. Maybe it was the day before that she encountered Him. Maybe it was in the week some time that she encountered Him. We don’t know that. But since He had come to her town, she had been redeemed. She had been forgiven. And the guilt was gone and the shame was gone and the life was different and longings after holy things and righteous things began to occupy her heart and she was swept away with gratitude, swept away with affection and love for the One who had forgiven her. So much so that she couldn’t even contain herself and the Pharisee himself said, “When somebody has forgiven much, they love much.” And so He says, “There you see much love.
What can you assume from that?” Much what? Forgiveness.
This is a transformed life. You can’t explain this woman’s behavior any other way. She’s been forgiven. She’s grateful because all the bondage of her sin is gone, all the depth of guilt is gone. You didn’t do anything for Me. You showed Me no honor, you showed Me no respect, you showed Me no affection, you gave Me no sacrifice, you showed Me nothing. You insulted Me with your lack of respect, your lack of love, your lack of tribute.
And so, Jesus is showing this self-righteous Pharisee what real transformation looks like.
And there is no other explanation. The people saw it, verse 49, they all got it.