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Biblical People

Biblical People: Simon (5) the Pharisee

In Luke’s account of the woman who pours her perfume on Jesus, Luke says it happens at the house of Simon, a Pharisee. Luke also records the interesting exchange between Simon and Jesus that isn’t in the other three biographies of Jesus.

In this account, Luke writes that it’s Simon who levies the criticism, but it’s not directed at the woman who pours her perfume on Jesus, it’s against Jesus. Simon doesn’t denounce Jesus out loud. He merely thinks it. He feels Jesus should have known the woman is a sinner and stopped her from touching him.

Perceiving Simon’s thoughts, Jesus turns to him. “Suppose two people owe money to a moneylender. One owes a couple hundred bucks and the other only twenty. Neither one can pay him back, so the lender writes off both loans. Which of the two people will be more appreciative?”

“The one with the larger debt,” Simon says.

“You’re right.” Then Jesus turns to the woman. “See her,” Jesus says. “When I came into your home you didn’t wash my feet as is the custom, greet me with a kiss, or anoint my head with oil, but this woman has washed my feet with her tears, not stopped kissing my feet, and anointed them with perfume. Though she has done many wrong things in her life, she’s most grateful for having been forgiven.”

As the people murmur about Jesus forgiving her sins, he has one more thing to say to her, “By your faith, you’re saved. Now go in peace.”

How grateful are we to Jesus? Should we be more grateful than we are?

[Discover more about Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:36–47.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.