Today we see Moses reminding the people of the sabbatical year, when every debt among the people would be rendered void and forgiven. But they are warned not to look at the calendar on the sixth year if a poor person asks for help, because you know it will be forgiven the next year. You are supposed to give anyway and not stop lending and helping a year before the release. That warning had to be given preemptively because that’s just human nature and even though they hadn’t done that yet, it was almost definitely going to happen.
Chapter 16 is a reminder of how and when to celebrate the major feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Sukkoth. These are the three pilgrimage festivals where they were required to travel to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and observe the festivals.
Moses also tells the people some restrictions that God has for when they inevitably request a king to rule them. They’re not to have a standing army and make alliances with Egypt, they’re not to have multiple wives and they’re not to horde riches. All three will be broken by almost every king in Israel’s existence. In facts, in the united kingdom phase, only David was truly a good king. Solomon was good but ended badly. But when the kingdom split after the death of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel never had another good and righteous king, while the southern kingdom had them but they were outnumbered by the wicked and evil kings.
Jesus goes to eat in a Pharisee’s house, and while there a woman, who apparently had a bad reputation in town, comes and washes his feet with her hair and tears. The Pharisee has some objections, so Jesus asks Peter to answer him a question. He asks if two people are forgiven a debt, one for a couple months wages, and one for a couple years wages, which of the two would be more grateful? He then says that the woman has been forgiven a great debt and so loves Jesus more than the Pharisee who has probably never strayed very far from the law.
It’s worth noting that Jesus never says the Pharisee is unforgiven, or that he wasn’t grateful, just that the woman is understandably more grateful because of how deep into the mire of sin she had fallen. He then closes it out by saying she’s forgiven of her sins. In previous encounters in Luke, Jesus had said that only God could forgive sins, and now he point blank says this woman has been forgiven.
This parable that we close out with today is explained by Jesus after he tells it, so it doesn’t take much commentary to understand it. But it should be noticed that we can only share the good news, we can’t tend the soil of someone else’s heart, they need to take care that the seeds they receive germinate into what they’re meant to be. And likewise, we need to water and till the soil of our own hearts so that thorns don’t creep up and choke out the seeds of faith that have been planted in us.