Tears (of joy) at a supper celebrated Jesus' forgiveness

Posted Aug 8, 2017

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Daily Scripture

Luke 7:36-48

36 One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. 37 Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. 38 Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner.

40 Jesus replied, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Teacher, speak,” he said.

41 “A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work [or five-hundred denaria]. The other owed enough money for fifty. 42 When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.”

Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”

44 Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. 46 You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. 47 This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Reflection Questions

Jesus didn’t write off the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day. He knew that they, too, were sinners, and he accepted invitations to eat with them. But Simon the Pharisee took it as a given that a good person would shun sinners, that Jesus must not know anything about this “sinner” at his feet. But he was wrong—Jesus knew all about the woman’s heart, and about Simon’s. This story had an unseen “prequel.” Verse 47 made it plain that this was not the first time Jesus met this woman, and gave a clear idea of how he’d already extended grace to her.

  • Scholar William Barclay wrote, “For a Jewish woman to appear with hair unbound was an act of the gravest immodesty…. The fact that this woman loosed her long hair in public showed how she had forgotten everyone except Jesus.”* Do you believe her tears were more likely a sign of sadness or joy? Have you ever sensed that you limit your expression of love and gratitude to Jesus out of a fear about “how it will look”?
  • Reflect prayerfully on the story Jesus told Simon. Do you more often see Jesus as forgiving much for you, or just forgiving a few little missteps here and there? Does that affect the ways you relate to others when they need forgiveness? How does your sense of how much or little God has forgiven you affect your love and joyful gratitude to God?


Lord Jesus, I realize that like both people with Jesus in Luke’s scene, I owe a debt I couldn’t possibly pay. Keep me rejoicing in your forgiveness, and forgiving others. Amen.

* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke. Revised edition. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p. 95).

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Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann

Denise serves as the Early Childhood Coordinating Assistant at Church of the Resurrection.

Throughout my years in school, I was always a big fan of grading on the curve. In many cases I wasn’t the person who set the curve, but I often benefited from it. In fact, I really didn’t ever see a down side to it. 

As I continually struggle to become a better Christian, I find myself still wanting to be graded on a curve of sorts. When I fail to do what’s right or flat out make the choice to do what I know is not right, I find myself comparing my “wrongs” to the actions of others. After all, if my sin isn’t quite so big maybe God will find it easier to forgive me. If I can point out things that other people have done, maybe I can work it around so that my error in judgement doesn’t even seem that bad. And then, if I play my cards right I can might find someone who is “wronger” than me so surely that makes my actions okay.

Yep, my mind actually works that way. The funny thing is, I don’t need to waste my time finding ways to be “less wrong.” Jesus loves me just as I am, although I’m sure He wouldn’t mind seeing me make fewer poor choices. And the really cool thing is, Jesus doesn’t just love the me that has a list of explanations, comparisons to others and amazing justifications for my actions, He loves the me that can sometimes have a less than pure heart, a negative outlook and not very nice thoughts. When I thank God for the love that Jesus has for me, I can’t possibly express my gratitude for a Savior that loves not just the me who sets the curve, but the real me who really needs the benefit of a curve.

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