Two Kinds

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” — Luke 7:47 ESV

“There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.” — Robert Benchley

OK — maybe it’s convenient to divide the world by our various distinctions of temperaments, talents and even spiritual gifts… I get that — but something about it sticks in my craw. Admittedly, it could be a spoilsport reaction to the categories I keep being slotted into. My problems aside… there’s a scientific argument that explains why we tend to categorize and divide. Apparently, something deep in the fight or flight machinations of our primordial brain categorizes threats in our world into two groups — things we run away from and things we beat with a heavy stick. We do this long before our less capricious, “conscious” mind has a clue what we’re up to. (Supposedly, those folks who did this slowly were eaten by bears, or something worse, and never got the privilege of  becoming our ancestors.)

“There are two kinds of people in the world: the Givers and the Takers. The difference between the two is that the Takers eat well, and the Givers sleep well.” — Joy Mills

I say all that as background — I was reading Luke 7 this morning and came across the story of Jesus reclining at table with Simon the Pharisee. It turns out there were two kinds of people at the Pharisee’s table that day. Those were invited and those who were not invited. Jesus was among the invited. Simon’s motives for inviting Jesus aren’t clear but It could have been idle curiosity. Although Simon uses the polite title “teacher” for Jesus, he fails as a host, to provide the expected etiquette of seeing to the washing of the teacher’s feet. There are lots of opinions about what this meant culturally, but at the very least, Simon believed it to be a courtesy that was unnecessary for the likes of Jesus — a message that Jesus understood as an affront.

“There are two kinds of people in the world — those who walk into a room and say, ‘There you are!’ — and those who say, ‘Here I am!’ ” — Abigail Van Buren

Then a woman, recognized by Simon as a sinner, shows up at the dinner party – uninvited. It’s hard to picture how she got in but I suspect she was a lady who knew well how to crash a dinner party. Luke tells us that in preparation the woman has bought an alabaster flask of some perfumey ointment. It’s possible this ointment was her ticket inside but this woman seems like just the sort that Simon would have taken pains to keep outdoors. In any event, I picture the two rabbi’s reclining at a table with an audience of some sort surrounding them who could listen in on the dinner table repartee. 

“There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.” — Mark Twain

Suddenly, the woman makes an embarrassing scene. She takes her perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet. Lacking a towel, she begins to wash his feet with her hair as she weeps, literally washing Jesus feet with her tears. Simon, does nothing to stop this. In fact, Simon sees this as kind of a prophet test. Any prophet worth his salt would know enough to avoid just this kind of public display. I would say Simon viewed the woman as far more unclean than whatever she might have washed off Jesus’ feet. 

There are two types of people in the world, those who see that glass as twice as big as it needs to be and those who see the glass as undervalued by half it’s potential.

In the middle of this awkward moment, Jesus tells a story. His disciples, used to this kind of thing, would have seen a story coming. What he said, in a paraphrased way, was that there are two kinds of debtors in the world, those who owe a little, and those who owe a lot. The thing about these debtors was that regardless of what was owed, neither of them could pay. The lender, forgave both of the debts. So… “Simon,” Jesus says, “Which of the two debtors will love the lender more?” 

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who don’t. 

I think love is an interesting word to use here. Simon, not slow on the uptake, immediately gets it right. “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt”, Simon says. Jesus goes on to point out the difference between Simon and the woman. 

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.“ — Luke 7:44-46 ESV

Many of us have been in the place where the woman found herself. I’m not sure what she had in mind on her way to the dinner, but when she was confronted by her Lord she was overwhelmed by the burden of her sin. For her, there was no one else in the room. She knelt and wept, and with as much reverence as she knew, she begged forgiveness in abject sorrow. She had no words for her remorse… she only had tears. 

“The world is divided into two types of people: those who love to talk, and those who hate to listen.” — James Thorpe

The very idea of this kind of behavior was an embarrassment to Simon, to Jesus, it was faith. The woman whose touch would have been abhorrent to Simon was to Jesus, tender. Jesus responded, not as a teacher, but her Savior and pronounced her sins forgiven.

“There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; You can live as if everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Simon, I believe was no less in need of forgiveness than this woman. The size of their indebtedness was only an issue of perception. The woman was conscious of her debt in a way that Simon was not. At best, Simon was having a meal with a colleague while the woman found her Savior. The woman loved much. Simon loved little. Little love is tragic love… It falls short of finding forgiveness.

“There are two kinds of people who never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else.” — Cyrus Curtis

In the end, there are two kinds of people, and both types are sinners, those who are forgiven and those who are not.

OK — at this point I think we should all take a break and watch some movie clips…

Leave a Reply