If He Were a Prophet...
The gospel accounts paint a picture of the character of Jesus unrivaled by any other personality in human history. On one memorable occasion, Jesus was invited to eat with a Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7:36-50). During his stay, a woman who was known in the area for her sinful lifestyle approached Jesus. She proceeded to wash His feet with her tears, dry them with her hair, and anoint Jesus with fragrant oil.
Simon, seeing the sinful woman’s behavior, said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). Notice two important aspects of Simon’s response. First, he spoke to himself. There is no indication that his thoughts were verbalized or in any way audible to those around him. Second, the criterion he set to determine whether Christ was a prophet was knowledge of the woman’s sinful lifestyle.
Jesus’ response to Simon proved that He was far more than a prophet. He answered the Pharisee by explaining that those who have sinned much and been forgiven of their sins will love God more than those who feel they have few sins to forgive. Jesus then forgave the woman’s sins. His response exhibited a knowledge, not only of the spiritual condition of the woman, but also of Simon’s inner conversation with himself. Not only did Jesus know the woman was a sinner, but He knew the conversation Simon had with himself about Jesus’ reaction to the woman. What did Jesus’ reaction prove? It should have proved to Simon that Jesus was far more than a prophet. When Jesus forgave the woman’s sins, He proved that He was God in the flesh.
The modern application of this story is profound. Jesus has exhibited far more evidence validating His deity than any reasonable person could demand. His life was prophesied in minute detail hundreds of years before He was born, He accomplished miracles that supported the prophesies, He foretold His own death and resurrection, He showed Himself alive to many witnesses after His resurrection, and ascended to Heaven in the sight of many witnesses as the culmination of His earthly ministry. The honest, reasonable response to Jesus’ personality and power is perfectly summarized in Nathanael’s reaction to Jesus’ miraculous knowledge. After Jesus explained to Nathanael that He had miraculously seen Nathanael under the fig tree, Nathanael exclaimed: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God” (John 1:49)!