Whoever has been forgiven little loves little. The story of Righteous Simon and the Adoring Sinner is an us-and-them story in which we get to determine which camp is ours. The underlying message: Jesus is accessible to all of us and he will accept each of us…
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I love that no matter who we are and where we come from, we can come to Jesus. We can cry at his feet and spend intimate time with him. He accepts us as we are even when we know there are dark secrets of which we aren’t proud.
Dark secrets. Yup. We all have them. Even Righteous Simon has them. But Righteous Simon won’t admit it. And when you won’t admit your dark secrets, you end up being that religious zealot or bigot looking down your nose at the Adoring Sinner who receives the forgiveness that you need as much as her… Yet you are at risk of never receiving it because you can’t get out of your own way.
I am coming to realize that Religious Simon isn’t distinctly Christian or Jewish as we might label him from the story. In fact, there is a good chance that whatever faith you are embracing, you can be a Religious Simon. Religious Simon thinks he is better, he thinks he doesn’t need forgiveness or redemption or help, and he denies his darkness. He could be Atheist or Agnostic or Catholic or Islamic. Why?
Because Religious Simon is a picture of the proud human condition.
And I would rather be the Adoring Sinner. Why? Because I can let my guard down, I can be who I really am, and I can identify with the other real people who are honest and humble. I am reminded more lately that the essence of the gospel is one beggar showing another beggar where the bread is.
Jesus is the bread. And there is enough for both of us if we admit we are hungry and needy. Join the Adoring Sinner movement. Follow Jesus…