(Two banquets in Luke)
Luke frequently uses the setting of “a dinner party” for Jesus teaching. Please read the stories in your Bible before continuing with this article.
Lk 5: 27 – 32
The host was a tax collector and his guests were sinners and others. “The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’“
Tax collectors and sinners; how uncomfortable would you have felt in such company? Would you have accepted this invitation? Was it really necessary for Jesus to bring up the topic of repentance? Repentance is for sinners not the ‘pillars of the church.’ None of us like to be reminded that repentance means that we must change our way of thinking and acting.
Lk 7: 36 – 50
36One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
“Scandalous!” thought Simon. After the parable about a great debtor, who is forgiven, he concedes that such a person will love much.
“Simon, do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Simon the Pharisee could never have predicted the outcome of his invitation to Jesus. How embarrassing the behaviour of Jesus and the woman sinner! We are not told why she was labelled a sinner. Perhaps as a woman she was far too outspoken for the Pharisees and local authorities. Simon cannot see Jesus as a prophet. “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him.” He is probably still recovering from the way Jesus compared him to the woman. “You gave me no water for my feet; you gave me no kiss; you did not anoint my head with oil; but she…”
Who had the greater debt forgiven, Simon or the woman?
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Perhaps this could be better expressed as, “Your humanity, your kindness to me and others, your courage in speaking the truth has brought you and others healing.”
Food for thought, Simon!