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Click here to read Luke 7 on BibleGateway.com

One of Jesus’ defining characteristics was his habit of responding to people’s hearts rather than to their words. When people asked him questions, he would frequently ask them a question or tell a story that apparently had nothing to do with the question, but under the surface it would cut right to the heart of the matter.

Take Luke 7 for instance. In verse 39, a “sinful” woman is anointing Jesus with perfume, and his dignified religious host mutters to himself “If Jesus were a prophet, he would know that this woman is a sinner.” Jesus responds with the famous story a of moneylender who forgave two debtors.


Notice how this story comes about. The host doesn’t even speak directly to Jesus; he “said to himself…and Jesus answered.” How did that happen? Here this guy was having a private moment of feeling superior, and Jesus calls him on the carpet. Sometimes our private thoughts aren’t as secret from God as we would like to hope.

Secondly, the host is really attacking Jesus. His problem wasn’t so much that the woman was there (after all, he let her in the house in the first place), but that Jesus clearly didn’t have prophetic gifts that people said, or he would have known the character of this woman. But Jesus doesn’t respond to Simon’s muttered accusation; he doesn’t try to defend himself or prove he’s a prophet. Instead, he gets right at the heart of the problem: Simon’s pride.


Jesus wasn’t concerned with his position, or with Simon’s position, or the woman’s social status. He was concerned with getting them both to the point of a right relationship with God, and both needed completely opposite solutions. The woman needed to know she’d been forgiven, and Simon needed to admit his need. In one story, Jesus managed to address both issues in a way that everyone could understand, and to bring both to a crisis point of reconciling with God.

That’s what Jesus does.

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