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Generously Canceled, Generously Treated

Do you feel generously treated?

"Once upon a time, there were two men in debt to the same money-lender. One owed him fifty pounds and the other five. And since they were unable to pay, he generously canceledboth of their debts. Now, which one of them do you suppose will love him more?" "Well," returned Simon, "I suppose it will be the one who has been more generously treated."

This once upon a timestory is a response to a man named Simon that asked a much different question of Jesus. The scene from Luke 7 features a dinner at Simon's house, Jesus as a guest, and other men at the table. A "bad woman" who is most likely a prostitute walks into the house, massages Jesus's dirty feet, uses her tears to wash them, kisses them, anoints them with perfume, and then dries them with her hair. What?! Yeah, that was Simon's response too. This can't be happening! He's gotta be thinking that on a lot of levels, this cannot be allowed. To use Simon's own words, "If this man (Jesus) were really a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of person is touching him. He would have realized that she is a bad woman."

Jesus's kind, but accurate, response to Simon, "I came into your house but you provided no waterto wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There wasno warmthin your greeting, but she, from the moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave meno oilfor my head, but she has put perfume on my feet."

I read this story, and to be completely honest, a lot of me identifies with Simon. It's a lot easier and less risky to be Simon--to appear to have it all together, to follow the Law, to "host" Jesus. However, a closer look at Simon reveals that he offered Jesus (and I'm assuming the other guests that came to dinner) no water, no warmth, no oil. In contrast, the woman who had no business being in the room is the one that Jesus singled our. And what is it the one thing that he said to her? "It is your faith that has saved you. Go in Peace." Faith is simply belief, so what did she believe? What did she believe about herself and Jesus that caused her to walk into a room full of men, single out Jesus, and begin to do all those things to his feet?

It appears to be her belief that saved her. This "bad woman" responded to the love of Jesus with "so much love" because she believed (had faith) that she was loved by Jesus. Simon, the Pharisee, must not have believed he was loved and forgiven. Otherwise, he would have instinctively provided water, warmth, and oil. A person who believes they are loved by Jesus responds with "so much love."

I want to become more like the "bad woman" who has had her debts generously canceled, the one who has been more generously treated. We have all been generously treated, whether we believe it or not. God has so much love for us, and we get to respond with so much love toward God and others we encounter today.


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