Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seeing as Jesus Sees (Luke 7, 36-50), January 27, 2008.doc

Seeing as Jesus Sees

Hillcrest Church, January 27, 2008


" 36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. 41 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." 48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." " (Luke 7:36-50 NIV)


Healing the centurion's son, raising the widow's daughter had been mighty miracles, the greatest miracle of all was resurrecting this woman's life…! This passage illustrates the principle Jesus just mentioned, "Wisdom is proved right by all her children," i.e., the changed lives of the ones who were following Jesus were proof of His teaching. This is not the same event as his anointing at Bethany and this is not Mary Magdalene. Matthew places it right after Jesus' invitation, "Come unto me … and I will give you rest. (Matt.11:28-30)

The Pharisee did not receive Jesus as a prophet, so he did not receive the reward the prophet brought. a prophet brings…! Imagine that! He had Jesus in the flesh in his home, yet there is no record of any mighty miracle being performed there or any evidence that his life was changed in any way. Jesus confronted his wrong attitude and tried to make Himself real to Simon, but his unbelief hindered his blessing. (Deal with reality of unbelief – existed even in Jesus' day, even in the face of His mighty miracles.) Some people, like Nicodemus, were willing to move beyond their traditions and their history, to move into the fullness of what God was trying to send to them.


Luke perhaps includes this passage here to set the stage for what follows, including the description that Jesus was accompanied by women who provided for his material needs, and that this took place in complete purity…!

This story raises many questions, some of them simple, others quite profound, all of them penetrating and important…

·         Why did this Pharisee invite Jesus to dinner? Luke's wording makes it clear that the Pharisees did not consider Jesus to be one of them and His constant contact with sinners would have rendered Him ritually impure. Perhaps deep in his heart there was a yearning to know more about this preacher from Nazareth, this miracle worker that some said was a prophet and others had begun to believe was the Messiah. Maybe his motives were actually less noble than that. It was considered a good thing to invite a rabbi into one's home for a meal after he taught at the synagogue. Simon may have done it out of a sense of obligation, without really wanting Jesus there, as witnessed by his failure to provide even the most basic of hospitality (washed feet, oil on head, kiss on cheek). Simon's invitation may well have been self-centered since it was considered virtuous to invite a godly rabbi over for dinner, especially if they had just taught in the synagogue. Jesus not only accepted hospitality from the publicans, but also from Pharisees, because all of them needed Him.

Simon was proud to be a "son of Abraham," but he was behaving in a very different way toward his guests than his father Abraham, who welcomed angels (Gen. 18)

" Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV)

Hospitality often sets the stage for ministry.

Simon was also guilty of hypocrisy. It was much easier for him to say, "She is a sinner," than for him to say, "I am a sinner." Jesus proved He was a prophet by His ability to supernaturally know Simon's thoughts…! The woman's sins were open, Simon's sins were hidden; Simon's sins involved the flesh, hers involved the heart. Cf. two sons in parable of the Prodigal. It is often easier for open sin to be confessed and renounced than for hidden sin to be confessed and renounced.

Jesus had the authority to speak of debt-cancellation because only He had the power to make provision for debt.

Simon accused Jesus of the very thing he himself was guilty of – spiritual blindness…! He was blind to his need; she saw her need. Simon saw her past, but Jesus saw her future…!

·         How did this woman know Jesus would be at the Pharisee's house? Did one of her customers tell her? Were they also there, perhaps reclining at the table while she hid in the shadows? Or did her righteous relatives tell her, hoping that an encounter with Him would change her life forever? Sexual hypocrisy is certainly nothing new. (cf. Czech pastor's friend in England who taught on sexuality across England, finding to his astonishment that the worst sexual sins came to the surface as he ministered in the strictest churches.) For special gatherings, low couches were provided for people to lean on. It was accepted practice for outsiders to hover around banquets so they could see and listen to the guests. In that day, women were not invited to banquets. Jewish rabbis did not speak to women in public, nor did they eat with them in public.

·         How could this woman afford such expensive perfume? Did she earn it with her favors? Was it the very one that she wore hung around her neck? This was such a common practice that even the rabbis said this was something a woman could "carry" on the Sabbath.

·         How did Jesus feel when this very sensual woman expressed her very pure love and appreciation for Him in a very physical way? Jewish people did not consider perfume sinful, but because this woman was sinful, its use would have been associated in their minds with her tools of the trade. Adult women covered their hair. For it to hang loose was considered sensuous and a sign of promiscuity. For Jesus to allow her to use her loose hair to wipe his feet was scandalous…! Her act involved a large financial outlay. Was it a means of redeeming her finances?

One of the most important parts of this passage is when Jesus confronts the Pharisee with his faulty "vision," as He did His disciples while in Samaria in John chapter 4 and the church at Laodicea in Revelation chapter three. In the same way, Jesus wants to help each one of us see others as He sees them!

Encountering Jesus opens our eyes to many things, changes the way we see them…!

Simon, do you see this woman? God sometimes uses the obvious to speak to us about the hidden.

Literally, her tears she "rained" on me…!

You did not anoint my head, but she anointed my feet (Extremely unusual to put something so valuable on the feet…!)

You did not even wash my feet with water, but she washed my feet with costly perfume…!

You gave me nothing, she gave me everything…!

Jesus knows the answers to our questions even before we ask them…!

Jesus is far more concerned with meeting human need than with satisfying human prejudice.


Let's look together at Jesus' response to this encounter. It tells us a lot about Him and a lot about what He wants every one of us to be…

1.    Jesus looked beyond her body and saw her soul.

·         He saw her in a way no other man had.

Jesus calls her, "Daugher." His relationship with her was pure. Somehow, this woman who had so long been a mere sexual toy in so many men's eyes sensed that. Ladies, in Jesus – and in men who are truly full of Jesus – you will find a value beyond anything you have ever known. This is the heritage of Christianity. In today's world, because Bible-believing Christians teach what the Bible says about divine order in the home and in marriage, some women have come to believe that Christianity oppresses them. Don't you believe it…! You can go into any culture around the world, whether it be Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever else you may choose, and Christianity elevates the status of women…!

Her life was centered around the erotic caress, but now, her heart being changed, she responded with a pure humility.

2.    Jesus looked beyond her act and saw her intent.

·         Repentance

·         True gratitude and worship.

By failing to provide for someone to wash Jesus' feet, Simon was actually soiling his own house…! (Jesus was walking on his floors with unwashed feet…!) Some sins are like that, including bitterness. They not only affect others, but they affect us, too.

Normally, to show someone special honor, you anointed their head. Perhaps this woman felt too unworthy to do that, so she anointed his feet. Her tears are indicative of her emotion. Jesus was concerned enough about her condition to not be offended by her emotion.

3.    Jesus looked beyond her sin and saw her faith.

·         Repentance and faith bring salvation…!

It was her faith that saved her, not her love…! When it comes to Christian virtues, love is premier, the greatest sign of true conversion, but there are loving people who will spend an eternity in hell…!

"4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

"8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

"6 … in Christ Jesus … The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6 NIV)

We are not saved by works, but by a faith that leads to / results in works.

4.    Jesus looked beyond her past and saw her future.

Literally, "go into peace…"

Debts were to be forgiven every seventh year, but experts in the law had found a way around that. Priests could pronounce forgiveness at the Temple after a sin offering, but Jesus pronounced forgiveness without a sin offering. Only God could do that…!

Jesus receives sinners…!

"2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." (Luke 15:2 KJV)



Luke 7:37

A woman which was in the city, a sinner (γυνη ἡτις ἐν τῃ πολει ἁμαρτωλος [gunē hētis en tēi polei hamartōlos]). Probably in Capernaum. The use of ἡτις [hētis] means "Who was of such a character as to be" (cf. 8:3) and so more than merely the relative [], who, that is, "who was a sinner in the city," a woman of the town, in other words, and known to be such. ἁμαρτωλος [Hamartōlos], from ἁμαρτανω [hamartanō], to sin, means devoted to sin and uses the same form for feminine and masculine. It is false and unjust to Mary Magdalene, introduced as a new character in Luke 8:2, to identify this woman with her. Luke would have no motive in concealing her name here and the life of a courtesan would be incompatible with the sevenfold possession of demons. Still worse is it to identify this courtesan not only with Mary Magdalene, but also with Mary of Bethany simply because it is a Simon who gives there a feast to Jesus when Mary of Bethany does a beautiful deed somewhat like this one here (Mark 14:3–9=Matt. 26:6–13=John 12:2–8). Certainly Luke knew full well the real character of Mary of Bethany (10:38–42) so beautifully pictured by him. But a falsehood, once started, seems to have more lives than the cat's proverbial nine. The very name Magdalene has come to mean a repentant courtesan. But we can at least refuse to countenance such a slander on Mary Magdalene and on Mary of Bethany. This sinful woman had undoubtedly repented and changed her life and wished to show her gratitude to Jesus who had rescued her. Her bad reputation as a harlot clung to her and made her an unwelcome visitor in the Pharisee's house. When she knew (ἐπιγνουσα [epignousa]). Second aorist active participle from ἐπιγινωσκω [epiginōskō], to know fully, to recognize. She came in by a curious custom of the time that allowed strangers to enter a house uninvited at a feast, especially beggars seeking a gift. This woman was an intruder whereas Mary of Bethany was an invited guest. "Many came in and took their places on the side seats, uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them" (Trench in his Parables, describing a dinner at a Consul's house at Damietta). He was sitting at meat (κατακειται [1]


[1]A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol.V c1932, Vol.VI c1933 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Lk 7:37.

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