How would you handle it if a LGBQ person walked into your church on Sunday morning? What thoughts would go through your mind? How does God want to use His Church to reach a sinful world?
The Passage: Luke 7:36-50
- Scripture doesn’t reveal any previous conversations between this woman and Jesus, but what could possibly have motivated this sinful woman (prostitute) to come and seek out Jesus? What does her actions reveal about what had happened in her heart? (Luke 7:36-38; 44-46)
- What does Jesus highlight concerning Simon’s heart from the story, and his review of this sinful woman’s behaviour? (Luke 7:41-47)
- What was Jesus method of helping Simon? (Luke 7:40-42, 44-47)
- What was Jesus’ condition for forgiving this sinful woman? (Luke 7:47-50)
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?
Seeing this woman’s incredible display of affection toward Jesus, something must have happened previous to cause her to recognize her sin and to embrace Jesus offer of unconditional love, by faith. It doesn’ appear that he condemned her sin or her lifestyle. It appears He offered love and forgiveness just as she was! When she received His forgiveness, it so overwhelmed her with gratitude, that she had to go find Him and thank Him.
Simon on the other hand, never seems to have accepted what Jesus was offering. None the less, Jesus lovingly sought to help Him to see His own wrong thinking, as graciously as possible, without condemning Him.
As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
- What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
Jesus forgiveness of this woman was “while she was still a sinner!” (Rom 5:8) Jesus accepted her, loved her and forgave her as she was!
Jesus dealt with both Simon and the sinful woman graciously in a way that helped them make their own discovery.
- What do I need become more aware of?
What is my default method of “helping” people with sin in their lives? Gracious non judgmental, questions and illustrations to help them self-discover, or more directly telling them the sin I see?
God is gracious in how he deals with me. He helps me and waits for me to self-discover. This is how I need to engage with others.
- How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
Be quick to forgive.
Graciously help others to self-discover, by the power of the Spirit.
The Power; Implement and Integrate
The power to change is in the implementation and integration. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, and develop habits that integrate those truths, we will never change. What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?
- Seek to be present with people first! (Accept, Attune, Validate, Identify with, Comfort – John Townsend People Fuel)
- Graciously help others to self-discover, by the power of the Spirit.
Luke 7:36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table
Jesus cared for everyone and desired for everyone to see and know the Father. He was willing to follow His Father where ever the Father asked him to go. Whether that meant reclining at table to tax collectors and sinners, or taking a 3 day journey to interrupt the funeral of a gentile so he could raise a widow’s only son from the dead, Jesus was instantly obedient and constantly available to be God’s instrument. Even now, He was available to go and recline at table in the house of a Pharisee.
Luke 7:37-38 37And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
Often when a woman is referred to as “a sinner,” it means she is a prostitute. This was the case with this woman. So, why was a prostitute following Jesus? What brought her to Simon’s house that day? How did she get into the house? Scripture doesn’t really say, but I really like how Ken Gire imagines this scene in his book, “Moments with the Savior.”
She goes out to her customary corner, where she takes the vial of perfume and dabs a little on her neck. She has met all manner of men on that corner, from shopkeepers to those who tax them to those who receive their tithes.
They want to stay with her at night, but by morning they are gone. Men. They’re all alike.
Or so she thinks until she meets Jesus.
She meets him on his way to a dinner engagement. As he approaches her corner, she counts on her perfume to lure him. In case it doesn’t, she brushes a hand against her earrings to catch his eye.
But his eyes do not follow the contours of her body. Instead, they look beneath the spangles and the scarves to see what it is that brings her to this street corner night after night.
She feels his eyes pressed hard against the hollow contours of her soul, and in uncharacteristic modesty, she pulls a scarf over her face.
He speaks to her, and in a moment she realizes he must be a prophet. How else could he discern her silent shame? How else could he know her secret longings?
He tells her that the love she longs for is not on that street corner. He tells her about a love so pure it can wash away all her sin, no matter how unsightly the stain or how permanent it may seem on the surface. It is the love of God. And it is hers for the asking.
She listens in veiled silence. After a few more words Jesus leaves for his appointment. In his absence she drops her veil. A spade of conscience digs at her heart. She gropes for her chest, but all she feels is the cold alabaster jar nestled in her bosom.
The thought that anyone could love her like that—let alone God—overpowers her. She falls to her knees, pleading for this forgiveness, begging to know this love.
She gets up, disoriented, and runs down the street. She accosts people to ask if they have seen Jesus, if they know where he went. She scours the streets, the alleyways, but the night seems to have enveloped him. After an anxious half hour of searching, she finds someone who thinks he saw Jesus go into Simon’s house.
She arrives at the Pharisee’s house, breathless, her heart beating against her ribs like a suddenly caged bird.
From the open doorway she sees soft mats bordering a low table where guests are reclining, propped on their elbows. The servants are busy filling goblets and replenishing trays of food, so she’s able to slip into the room unnoticed.
She approaches the table reverently and stops at the feet of him who is now her Savior.
Suddenly, everybody’s attention turns to her: “Look what the cat dragged in” . . . “A sinner in Simon’s house?” . . . “This ought to be interesting.”
Self-consciously she clutches the small alabaster jar dangling from her neck, then collapses, sobbing in a heap of scarves. She buries her face in the Savior’s feet, showering them with the love that spills from her eyes.
Simon sits up. The moment is awkward for the host. He knows the woman’s reputation. If Jesus were a prophet, he reasons, he would know too. And if Jesus were a righteous man, he would certainly send her away with a good scolding.
But Jesus neither scolds her nor sends her away.
Wiping her eyes, the woman sees the mess her tears have made as they’ve mixed with the dust on his feet. She untresses her hair to clean them and to dry them. As she does, she kisses them.
Hair that was once used to seduce is now used to serve. Kisses that were once for sale are now freely given away.
Then, as if to cleanse Jesus of her unworthy kisses, she opens her vial of perfume and pours the sweet fragrance over his feet.
Wow! Can you picture the scene as Ken describes? This woman, so overwhelmed with gratitude over the weight of her sin, the burden of her shame, completely eradicated by the kind and loving words of Jesus! Is that your experience of God’s love? When is the last time that you were overwhelmed and wept over your sin? When was the last time that you shed tears over the fact that, “While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you!”
Personal application: When Jesus passed this woman on the street, He did not feel the need to confront her sin, nor “evaluate” how she measured up to the “Jewish code of conduct.” He didn’t even address her sin. In Ken Gire’s words, He simply said, ‘You will never find the love you are looking for on this corner.” Although we don’t know exactly what Jesus said to cause this woman to embrace His loving offer of forgiveness, I think the point is clear. Jesus spoke to the need of her heart instead of condemning her for her sin!
Luke 7:39-43 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Luke reveals a glimpse into the heart of Simon. Jesus’ responses revealed that He knew what Simon was thinking, without Simon even saying a word. And, in the same way He dealt with the prostitute, not condemning his behavior or putting him down for his lack of empathy, Jesus simply told a story to draw Simon out and help him to see his own error.
After telling the story, and asking Simon which person in the story would respond with more gratitude and love, Jesus turns the light on to reveal Simon’s heart.
Luke 7:44-47 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. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Ken Gire highlights that the debt Jesus was calling into account in the story was not the prostitute’s; it’s the Pharisee’s. “The forgiveness that has been lavished on this woman is evidenced by the love she has lavished on Jesus. Tears, hair, kisses, perfume. Tokens of her love. Testimonies of her forgiveness. This woman of the night found in the Savior what she could never find on that street corner. Forgiveness for her sins. Salvation for her soul. Peace for her heart. And the love she so desperately longed for. Love that would be with her not just for the night . . . but forever.”
Jesus shows in clear contrast that Simon was not grateful nor thankful for the forgiveness he had received!
Luke 7:48-50 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This woman had already experienced the joy of God’s forgiveness. That’s the whole reason she had come. But, Jesus says it, in front of the Pharisee and his friends. “Your sins are forgiven.” Making the clear statement, once again, that He is the Messiah and showing what He has come to offer. But, instead of embracing Him, the religious ones, the ones who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders, continue to question. “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”
In contrast, this sinful woman, this known prostitute, this one condemned and rejected by the spiritual leaders, found forgiveness. Not because of what she has done, nor because she measured up to the Jewish code of conduct. She found forgiveness because of her faith! She heard Jesus loving words, believed what He said, and found, by faith, forgiveness for her sins. Salvation for her soul. Peace for her heart. And the love she so desperately longed for. Love that would be with her not just for the night . . . but forever.