“Do you see this woman?" (Luke 7:44)
This was Simon’s fundamental problem.
He never really saw the woman.
The Bible is very discreet in calling her “a woman who had lived a sinful life” (Luke 7:37). This is a delicate way of saying she had been a prostitute. She made her living by selling her body to men. She was a professional and I have no reason to doubt that she was good at what she did. The shock is that she would come to the house of a Pharisee. In ordinary times Simon and this woman would never meet. He would not go near a woman like her; she would not go near a man like him. They are from opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet strangely, they are thrown together for the same purpose. They both want to meet Jesus.
Simon’s problem is easy to see. He thought he was better than the prostitute. Simon said, “She is a sinner.” Jesus said, “No, she was a sinner." God changed the tenses in her life.
"Simon, your problem is that you see her as she was and not as she is. You think you see her but you don’t. For years, you knew her one way ... but now she’s clean ... and you can’t handle it.”
That leads me to this statement: A person who is never deeply committed to anything cannot understand somebody who is transformed by Jesus Christ. Simon simply had no category for a former prostitute whose life has been radically changed by Jesus Christ.
It’s strange, isn’t it, that the worst sinners often make the best saints. Why? Because flagrant sinners are more likely to discover that they are sinners.
Your love for the Lord is directly related to your estimate of how greatly you have sinned and how much he has forgiven you. It’s not how much you sin, but how deeply you feel it that matters. If you figure that you are a “little sinner,” then all you need is a “little Savior.” If you are a “moderate sinner,” then what you need is a “moderate Savior.” But if you are “big sinner,” you need a “big Savior.” And those who have a “little Savior,” will love him very little. But those who have a “big Savior” will love him greatly. Many of us who were raised in the church struggle precisely at this point. We don’t love Christ very much because we have forgotten what we were and what we would have been if Christ had not found us. When our sin seems small, our love cannot be very great.
Since we are all sinners and we all stand in need of the grace of God, there is no room for spiritual pride in the body of Christ. There’s no need to talk about who’s “better” and who’s “worse” because apart from the grace of God, we’d all be going to hell.
Better to be like the repentant prostitute than to be like super-religious Simon. Hard truth for us to hear, but that’s why this story is in the Bible.
Almighty God, you have poured your grace upon us. We are truly “miserable sinners” whether we know it or not. May we never forget what it cost Jesus to forgive our sins. From pride and from a judgmental spirit, deliver us, O Lord. Amen.
Which would you rather be, a repentant prostitute or a self-righteous religious Pharisee? Or is that not a fair question? Name some friends who can prick your balloon when you are too full of hot air. If can't name any, maybe you need to get some new friends.
Do you consider yourself a "little" sinner, a "moderate" sinner, or a "big" sinner?