This story concludes with a description of several other women who follow Jesus. They too live generously and gratefully in response to Jesus’ healing and forgiveness. Like the Twelve, they are faithful disciples of Jesus.
Luke portrays these women as models of discipleship, especially the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears. Her actions stand in sharp contrast to Simon’s. As the story unfolds, Simon moves from mild curiosity about Jesus to doubt and then finally to silence. Luke clearly is describing the progression of some well-connected, high-status believers who were initially attracted to Jesus but later refuse to follow him. Simon labels the woman a “sinner,” but he is the one who falls short. He does not see Jesus or the woman for who they really are. He reduces people outside his circle of acceptability and respectability to labels: sinner, prophet, teacher.
Simon is the ultimate insider. He writes the rules that turn others into social outcasts. Consequently, he can never experience the transformation that comes in response to Jesus’ offer of grace and acceptance. Trusting in his own goodness, he simply doesn’t know he needs forgiveness.
Do we sometimes see the label and not the person? Do we note the fault instead of the unhealed wound or need that lies hidden beneath it?
Do we fail to find joy in our discipleship because we believe God has already made us insiders at the heavenly banquet and that we can determine who else may have a seat at the table? How often have we forgotten that those who are forgiven little, love little as well?
Save us, Lord, from the temptation to label others rather than to call them by name, to find fault with others rather than to understand the wounds they carry within their hearts. Amen.