(Say the Jesus Creed morning and evening during Lent.)
Our Friday series is special: not only are we gathered together as blog friends, but the author of our book, Stories with Intent, is a personal friend. Klyne Snodgrass is one of the highlights at North Park and I’m privileged to know him and to have gleaned wisdom from him all these years. Our parable today is from Luke 7:41-43. Here it is; read it first:
40 Jesus answered him, ?Simon [the Pharisee], I have something to tell you.? ?Tell me, teacher,? he said. 41 ?Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?? 43 Simon replied, ?I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.? ?You have judged correctly,? Jesus said.
Talk about obvious. But wait …
This double indirect parable — the hearer is addressed by not speaking directly and the subject is parabolically expressed.
Klyne provides the helpful primary material — like Lev 25:8-55 (Jubilee) and Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness (Matt 6:12-13; 18:21-35). He sorts through some Greco-Roman festive meals. Forgiveness of the other is not a common theme in Jewish literature. (The best I’ve seen on this by Jewish scholarship is Solomon Schimmel, Wounds Not Healed by Time.)
Klyne thinks this event is not the same event as the one in John 12 and Mark 14/Matt 26.
“The Pharisee was not obligated to wash Jesus’ feet, anoint him with oil, and greet him with a kiss, but he should have provided water so that Jesus could wash his own feet” (82). Kissing another’s feet is the ultimate sign of gratitude … and deep humility. Anointing feet with oil was extravagant. A woman who lets her hang down in public is acting shamelessly. Women did not normally eat with men at banquets but the woman’s presence here is not “completely out of the ordinary” (83).
Meaning: clear and rather straightforward. Forgiveness.
“The kingdom comes with limitless grace … but grace that does not bring forth a response is grace unknown” (90). The presence of emotion is also notable. She acts as did Jesus when he washed his disciples feet.
I like this: The Pharisee is sure the woman is a sinner; Jesus is sure she is a forgiven sinner. Take that one with you.