Many, if not all of us, have special friends, people we like spending time with – perhaps sharing meals together to enjoy each other’s company. The Gospels tell us of quite a few times when Jesus ate with other people, twice he performed great miracles, providing food for many very hungry folk. But they also tell us of times when he was invited into someone’s house for a meal and this is a story of one of those occasions when Jesus was present and also a most unexpected and unwanted guest.
It begins with a Pharisee, the title means a ‘separated one’ and they were important (and sometimes very self-important) religious leaders in Israel. This one was called Simon and he was a leading pillar of the community. He had heard about Jesus and was curious about him, he wanted to meet him so he invited him for a meal.
When Jesus arrived he was snubbed by his host, he did not receive a proper welcome, he was not offered water to wash his hands and feet (gross insult in that society) but the Lord said nothing. Suddenly an uninvited woman came into the house, she approached Jesus and wept before him washing his feet with her tears. Simon was disgusted for the woman was an immoral person, well known in the village. To Simon she was a sinner, without any hope of salvation and he was contemptuous of her and also of Jesus for the Lord did not chastise her.
Instead he told Simon a story about two debtors. One owed quite a small amount, the other had a big debt – over a year’s wages. Their creditor took pity on them both and forgave them. ‘Which of the two do you think loved their creditor most?’ Jesus asked Simon. ‘I suppose the one he forgave the most’, replied the Pharisee.
Jesus then pointed out that the woman had her many sins forgiven because she came to him in faith, conscious of her great need and loving him for the forgiveness he gave her. Simon however believed he did not need forgiveness from Jesus, he was a self-righteous man who did not see the Son of God as the wonderful Saviour provided by God, he did not need him and so forgiveness was not freely offered to him.
There is a lesson for us in this story. If we are conscious of the mistakes we make in life and take them to God through Jesus, forgiveness is freely given, and a place in God’s kingdom is on offer. But if we feel we are perhaps superior, a ‘better person’ than our neighbour then the Bible has nothing to offer us.