How Much We’ve Been Forgiven

“And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So 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 judged correctly.” - Luke 7:36-50

One of the most beautiful stories of Jesus’s forgiveness lies in Luke 7:36-50.

Jesus finds himself dining with a religious leader named Simon, and while he is there, a woman (identified as a sinner) finds him there and anoints his feet. Luke describes the scene saying, “she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.”

What a beautiful moment of repentance and love this woman had for Jesus! Yet instead of being amazed by the sacrifice and symbolic act of love, Simon quickly judges the woman and thinks to himself that if Jesus really knew who she was, he would want nothing to do with her.

Yet Jesus knows Simon’s heart, and instead of getting angry, tells him a story.

Jesus tells a parable of two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii (about a day’s pay for a skilled laborer) and one owed fifty. Neither could pay their debt, and yet the moneylender graciously forgave them both. Jesus asks Simon who would love the moneylender more, and Simon is right when he says the one with the larger debt.

Jesus then goes on to tell him, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Like both the woman and Simon, whether we feel like our sin is glaringly obvious or not, we all have a debt we are unable to pay. No amount of good deeds could ever make up for our sins. Even if we feel like we are pretty good, Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our good deeds are as filthy rags. There’s nothing that can make us righteous except Christ.

Our sin has been atoned for by the blood of Jesus, and His death on the cross gave us the greatest gift we could ever imagine: freedom, forgiveness, and connection to God. When we really realize the gift Jesus has given us, our hearts can only turn to worship and adoration like the woman in Luke’s story. Our hearts overflow with love for God because we have been forgiven much.

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