LUKE 7:36-50

Jesus took a lot of dinner invitations. We saw just a few verses earlier that He was accused by His critics of being a gluttonous man and a drunkard (Luke 7:34). At times he accepted dinner invitations to the homes of sinners and tax collectors. But He also accepted invitations to dine at the homes of those who were respected in the community. This was one of those times.



Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. (Luke 7:36).

Simon was a Pharisee. Named after one of the sons of Jacob, he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, holding to all of the Jewish traditions of the rabbis. He prayed twice a day. He owned a regular seat in the synagogue. He read the words of the prophets. He kept himself pure from the defilements of the Gentiles, guarding himself from all contact with pagans.

If he noticed the woman at all, it was only with the utmost disdain. After all, she wasn’t his social equal. And with the reputation that she had, it was a shame that stoning of sinners was no longer fashionable.

And then one day, Simon heard that Jesus had come to town. This strange young rabbi from Nazareth had been growing in popularity as the fame of His teaching and His miracles spread throughout the land. It was the perfect opportunity. Jesus would make the perfect dinner guest. He would certainly he impressed by the kind of table that Simon could set. Perhaps they could sit and compare notes on how righteous they are. Maybe they could even have a theological discussion on various rabbinical views of the Law.



And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. (Luke 7:37-38).

It seems to be no mistake that this event is related immediately following the words of Jesus about John the Baptist (Luke 7:24-35). The Pharisees rejected both the baptism of John and the words of Jesus (7:30). We will now see an example of that rejection.

Jesus had been accused of being a glutton, a drunk, and a friend of sinners (7:34). As He sits at dinner in the house of this Pharisee, we shall see Him befriending one who is a sinner.

Some scholars have suggested that this event is the same as that which is described in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8. There are several similarities between those accounts and this one in Luke.

And yet, in spite of these similarities, I do not think that these are the same events. This takes place near the center of the ministry of Jesus, while the event described in the other three Gospels takes place at the close of the ministry of Jesus on the week before His death.

The fact that it takes place in the house of Simon is not significant because it was a very common name. Indeed, there were three different people in that same house who were named Simon (Simon the Pharisee, Simon Peter, and Simon the Zealot).

Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8

Luke 7:36-50

Simon is referred to as a leper whom Jesus had healed

Simon is described as a Pharisee

There is no indication that the woman suffers from a poor reputation. Her purpose in coming is to anoint Jesus for His death.

This woman came because she was a sinner in need of forgiveness. She came weeping over her sin.

John’s account identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus

There is nothing to indicate that Jesus had prior contact with this woman

The woman anoints the head of Jesus

This woman anoints the feet of Jesus

The actions of the woman are questioned by the disciples of Jesus

The presence of this woman is questioned by Simon

Imagine the scene. The table would have been much lower than we are used to. Instead of sitting in chairs to eat, the guests would recline on soft divans which were arranged so that they could dine in comfort. The dinner is going very nicely when there is an interruption.

The fact that this woman had a reputation for being a "sinner" indicates that she lived an immoral lifestyle. Other women in the town would not speak to her. She was barred from the synagogue. She was excluded from all social activity.

And then one day, something happened in her life. Perhaps she heard some of the preaching of Jesus. She became aware of her own sinfulness. She began to mourn over her lost condition. And when she hears that Jesus is in town, she is compelled to go see Him.

She comes to the feet of Jesus. He is reclining upon the divan with His feet directed away from the table. She does not presume to approach the table. She does not try to approach Jesus as an equal. Instead, she will take the role of a servant. She comes to the feet of Jesus.

She has been weeping. Her tears splash upon His feet. Loosening her hair, she uses it as a towel to wipe the moisture from His feet.

She has brought with her a vial of perfume. The vial is made of alabaster. The precious container holds an expensive perfume. Perhaps she has used it in the past to try to seduce men. But now she uses it in an act of worship of the Son of God.

She has no towel, so she uses her own hair. It was considered socially unacceptable among the Jews for a woman to let down her hair in public. But she will make no pretense as she kneels before the feet of Jesus.



Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." (Luke 7:39).

The Pharisee is indignant when he sees what is happening. Righteous men of God do not associate with women of this caliber. To even have her touch him would render him ceremonially unclean. He immediately jumps to some conclusions:

The Pharisee reasons that the fact that Jesus had made no remonstrance against her must indicate that He is not aware of what kind of person she is. Perhaps He has been overrated as a prophet. But it is not Jesus who has been overrated. It is this Pharisee who has overrated his own righteousness.



And Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher."

"A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?"

Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly." (Luke 7:40-43).

Jesus now proceeds to tell a story. It is a story about two people who were in debt. They did not have banks in those days. When you needed to borrow money, you would go to a moneylender. Perhaps today we would call him a loan shark. These two men had borrowed money. They had each incurred a debt.

One owed five hundred denarii. The other owed fifty denarii A denarii was a small coin, about the size of a dime, but a lot more valuable. It was considered to be a day’s wages for a common laborer (Matthew 20:2). Both of these amounts were quite a bit of money. But one was ten times that of the other. One was high. The other was astronomical.

And yet, there was a similarity in these two debts. The similarity is that the men who had incurred the debts were unable to pay therm

We are like that. Some of us had to be forgiven for a lot. And others have had to be forgiven for a whole lot more. But we are all the same, because we are all unable to satisfy the debt which is against us.

This means that we are all equal before God. I cannot take pride that I am less of a sinner than some one else because my sin is just as infinitely removed from God’s righteous ness as the worst sinner that ever lived. At the same time, I cannot think of myself as unable to approach the grace of God because the sin of the holiest saint is just as infinitely removed from God s righteousness as my own.

  1. A Forgiven Debt: "When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both" (7:42).
  2. The moneylender was under no obligation to forgive either of these debts. The fact that he did was a matter of GRACE. It was completely undeserved. Also notice that the moneylender forgave the entire debt. He did not say, "I will forgive 90% of your debt if you pay the other 10%." His forgiveness of the debt was unconditional. He did it with no strings attached.

  3. A Question of Gratitude: "Which of them therefore will love him more?" (7: 42)

Now we cone to the point of the parable. It deals with the gratitude of the forgiven. The man who is convinced of the greatness of his own debt is going to be more grateful over his forgiveness than the one who feels his debt is not that bad.

Simon the Pharisee was not aware of the great debt that he owed. After all, he is far above this sinful woman. He is a Pharisee. He is doctrinally correct. His lifestyle reflects a devotion to the Lord. He prays twice a day. He fasts twice a week. He gives money to the Temple. He attends the synagogue on a regular basis.

On the other hand, this woman has lived a sinful lifestyle. She has been barred from the synagogue and from the Temple. Respectable people will not even speak to her.

She has no illusions over her standing before God. She knows that she is undeserving. She is spiritually bankrupt. She has come mourning over her sin. She hungers and thirsts for the righteousness that she does not possess. And in doing so, she has demonstrated that she is ready to become a citizen of the kingdom.

Here is the principle: He who is forgiven the most will also love the most. Are you having problems in your spiritual love life? Go back to the cross and see how much you have been forgiven.



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 she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:44-47).

Now Jesus brings Simon to the point of the parable. The story that he told spoke of two people. There are two people that Jesus is comparing. Jesus is comparing Simon and this sinful woman. He is a Pharisee - a very religious man. She is an immoral woman.

He has been trying to attain a righteousness of his own by keeping the Law. She knows that she is a law-breaker. He thinks that he has very little need for forgiveness. She is aware that she is in desperate need of forgiveness. In each case, the attitude of the heart has been demonstrated by the outward actions.


The Sinful Woman

I entered your house upon your invitation

The woman is under no obligation to treat Jesus as a houseguest

You have me no water for My feet

She wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair

You gave me no kiss

She has not ceased to kiss My feet

You did not anoint My head with oil

She anointed My feet with perfume

Simon had not even treated Jesus with common courtesy. There were certain customs of courtesy that he had neglected in having Jesus come to be his guest.

Simon had done none of these things. He had not even demonstrated the ordinary manners given to a guest.

On the other hand, instead of using a washbasin to clean the feet of Jesus, this woman had used her own tears — that which Luther called "the water of her heart." Instead of a kiss upon the cheek, this women had kissed His feet. Instead of cheap olive oil for His head, she brought an expensive perfume for His feet (the Greek word here is "myrrh")

"Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much" (7:47).

Notice what Jesus is saying. There is a correlation: between the measure of your love and the measure of your forgiveness.

Do you love the Lord? Does your life reflect the gratitude of your heart for the forgiveness of your sins? If it does not, then it is because you have not been forgiven.



Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven."

Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?"

And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:48-50).

Now Jesus turns and, for the first time, addresses himself to the woman. He makes a simple statement of fact. He does not say that her sins were not that bad. He doesn’t say that God isn’t concerned about her sins. He says that her sins are forgiven.

There is only one problem with this. Only God can forgive sin. Men cannot. do this. Not even the pope can do this.

We are not told who were the other guests. Apparently, they were people who fit the mold of respectability which Simon thought would befit his table. There were no tax-collectors there. There were no people of ill repute.

Notice also that these guests were theologically sophisticated. They knew that only God is able to forgive sins. And they wonder to themselves at the words of Jesus.

Jesus is in the forgiving business. It is true that only God can forgive sin, but it is also true that Jesus and the Father are one. If you want your sins to be forgiven, you will have to come to Jesus.

This is the first mention that Jesus has made of faith in this passage. Up to this point, He has only spoken of love. We would have expected Him to say to the woman, "Your love has saved you."

Why this change? I want to suggest that it is because there will always be a correlation between your faith and your love. You cannot trust in the Lord without loving Him. And you cannot love the Lord without also believing in Him.

This woman left that house with her perfume vial empty. But with her heart full of joy and peace. Her sins had been forgiven. At the same time, there were others who sat in that same house, secure in their own reputations, who remained in their sins. They had been with Jesus, but they had never knelt at His feet.

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