The Book of Luke, Jesusí Encounter With the Woman at the House of the Pharisee, Part I Ė Lesson 93
Luke 7:36-50, And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Phariseeís house, and sat down to meat. 37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Phariseeís house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
We see in this account another example of the contrast between a Pharisee and a sinner.
Was the Pharisee a sinner?
Is there really any contrast between sinners?
Of course this Pharisee was a sinner but he attempted to make a contrast so great between himself and the woman that his sinfulness was not worth mentioning.
This is not too farfetched to believe is it?
Remember the: Two men who went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
The Gospels are abounding with contrasts where Pharisees compare themselves with others in order to justify themselves.
This appears to be a characteristic of Pharisaical thinking.
Do you ever say to yourself, Iím not doing so badly, look at so and soí life compared to mine.
I think Iíve got it together. Well that is Pharisaical.
That is comparing yourselves among yourselves which the scriptures tell us is not wise.
The scriptures declare that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, there is none righteous no not one.
But the Gospel accounts are full of examples of contrasts between Pharisees and sinners and God must have given us these examples for good reasons.
For it seems to me that God is providing us with the clear differences between the Pharisees and sinners to open our own eyes to our dire condition of sinfulness.
How easy it is for religious people to be self righteous looking down their noses at whom they call sinners.
How easy it is to think of ourselves as worthy of Godís grace and others as unworthy.
How easy it is for us to think that God saw in us something worthy to save and how easy it is for us to think that others should not be saved.
The self righteous think that Godís grace comes to those who are most worthy and think that surely a woman of ill repute such as is pictured in our Bible passage cannot receive Godís grace.
This account of this woman who was kissing the feet of our Lord can be quite distressing when we count ourselves as righteous and separated from sinners as did this Pharisee.
How could Jesus allow a woman of this reputation, a woman whom this Pharisee could not even see himself touched by, to shower his feet with her tears, wiping them dry with her hair and anointing them with her perfume.
You can tell by Lukeís introduction to this woman that what took place was an unheard of happening, a shocking event which shook up the guests at this house.
For Luke introduces this woman with the words ďAnd, behold.Ē
Look at this, a woman coming in here! They recognized her at once, for she was from the town itself.
They knew about her, that she was one known as a sinner.
A surprise it was indeed, to see this person come in!
Simonís heart reaction was clear in this and Jesus knew it.
The problem though does not lie with Jesus but it lies with the Pharisee for the Pharisee refuses to accept the premise that all of us are of ill repute in one way or another for we give ourselves for money instead of giving ourselves in love.
We usually think of a prostitute as a person who engages in sexual activity for money but the broader definition is of a person will willingly uses his or her talent or ability in a base or unworthy way usually for money.
It is the prostituting of oneself to the world and refusing to do the will of the one who gave him life.
Whatís in it for me? What will doing for you bring to me?
Things are not done in love but for profit.
The Bible does not come out and tell us of this womanís profession but it does tell us that this woman is a sinner such that Simon was repulsed by her and thought within himself:
This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
I think we can infer from this that she certainly was a woman of ill reputation in the city, not necessarily a harlot, but perhaps one who had scandal in her life and was well known from it.
(As an aside and somewhat related to this subject and worth reading, I read this statement in a commentary and I think it wise. It is most transgressed by good Christians:
It is a moral rule that we in love think no worse of a person than we are compelled to do by the evidence.)
But the comparing by the Pharisee of himself to this woman is another validation of the scripture that tells us that our heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked and God shows us clearly what the heart of a self-righteous Pharisee is like.
God showing us clearly is light and if we want light it is there to reveal our own heart.
You can reject light and stay in darkness rejecting the grace of God or you can welcome light and call upon the grace of God to conform you to the image of Godís son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Pharisee, who was of high repute, chose to reject light and stay in darkness but the woman, who was of ill repute chose light and was forgiven.
This account appears to follow the incident prompted by the question of John the Baptist but we are not told specifically nor are we told in what city this marvelous event occurred.
The principle characters are Jesus, the Pharisee named Simon, and the woman with a reputation that was defined as a sinner, one whose touch would a righteous man abhor.
Luke is careful to give us the name of the dinner host but he does not give us the name of the woman.
Perhaps this is a gracious act on the part of Luke and purposely done but I think she is nameless for she is to represent all sinners. Can you let this happen in your life?
All sinners are to connect with this woman and not place themselves above her by some self righteous thought process.
So Sinner is the name we are to remember her by.
By doing this we can picture ourselves in her place and know that we can receive forgiveness regardless of our sin or our standing in the community.
It is a wonderful thing to come to the knowledge that you are a sinner for only sinners will be forgiven, only sinners will be saved.
It was a wonderful thing for this woman to come to that understanding for it led her to the feet of the one who forgave her.
Simon avoided the feet of Jesus and received no forgiveness for in his self righteous state he needed none.
Many, like Simon never admit their condition and without that admittance they cannot be saved.
Luke provides in his account of this event an interesting contrast between two people who were zealous to see Jesus.
Simon the Pharisee found it easy to see Jesus and converse with him in the comfort of his home around a meal, but it was not so easy for a woman whose reputation preceded her.
Simon the Pharisee was socially acceptable, however a woman like this was to be avoided at all costs in the mindset of the Pharisee for they believed that holiness was arrived at by being physically separated from sinners like this woman.
With this kind of mindset you can easily see why Simon was repulsed by the act of this woman and Jesusí reception of her.
So for a woman such as this, getting close to Jesus was no easy matter.
Her sinful life, most likely known to all who lived in her town, made it difficult for her, a woman, to seek out the man, Jesus.
We were told in previous verses of Luke 7 that the fame of Jesus as a prophet had spread throughout the region and we can conclude that this woman had heard about this man and his wonderful works and his love for the people.
Perhaps she had been on the streets of the city when she came upon this man Jesus as he preached to the multitudes.
From her reaction at Simonís house something had occurred prior to this dinner which caused such weeping on her part.