A Sinful Woman in a Pharisee’s House

Luke 7:36-50

This passage tells the story of Jesus going to the home of a Pharisee named Simon for dinner. As they reclined at table, a very sinful woman enters and is so moved that she cries, her tears falling on Jesus’ feet. She wipes her tears from His feet with her hair, for what else did she have to wipe with? Then, she pours perfume on His feet to anoint them. As this is going on Simon the Pharisee is thinking that if Jesus were a prophet He should know this woman is sinful and thus send her away.

Jesus responds out loud to Simon’s thoughts…

You really need to read the text for this one, because it is a beautiful thing to behold, and there is no way for me to do it justice…

The upshot of the story is that a very sinful person can be forgiven just like a not so sinful person can, and in all probability that very sinful person will love God all the more because they have been forgiven so much. Naturally, those who are very upright and righteous, who have only sinned a little bit, may continue to view the forgiven one who has sinned so much more than we have, with disdain for their past actions, arguably increasing our own “sin-count” in the process.

On the other hand, God sees all forgiven souls as clean.

The lesson that Simon and his friends needed to learn here was that God’s approach to sin, forgiveness and love is not a transactional approach, but a relational one. Every single one of us, whether saint or sinner, was created in the image of God. Every single human was made to be God’s sacred child; God loves all of us, even the sinner who has not yet accepted His grace.

I know that this is a difficult concept for many of us to grab hold of… and no, I’m not saying that God doesn’t care about sin. But our sins and transgressions against God do not cause Him to stop loving us; do you know how I can say that with so much confidence?

Because while we were still in our sin, God sent His one and only Son to die for us, that whosoever might believe in Him, might have eternal life. Therefore, if God didn’t love this sinful woman, and hundreds of millions of others like her, Jesus would not have ever come to this earth.

Interesting isn’t it, that she understood this, and Simon and his associates struggled with it.

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20 thoughts on “A Sinful Woman in a Pharisee’s House”

  1. “I know that this is a difficult concept for many of us to grab hold of…”

    Sin and who sins more, who sins less, who is forgiven more, who is forgiven less, who loves more, who loves less … ? What is sin to God, does the big sin hurt Him more than the little sin … ?

    I saw this video – well known (but this one is “stylish” ‘cos its British!): the feather and ball – which drops the fastest in a vacuum. I see sin the same way. Take out our scoring and scaling and judging and faffing about – and you are left with … it is all the same to God (maybe).

  2. Thanks Don! This is one of my favorite passages. A “greater” sinner may be able to see their spiritual bankruptcy because the evidence is so overwhelming. If we can see ourselves rightly, this realization is severely humbling. The forgiveness and grace of God compels us to respond in deep gratitude, love and admiration for the Redeemer. It is beautiful, indeed!

  3. We have a classic clash of “God owes me big-time” and “I am not worthy of anything good” which is repeated many times in the Gospels. Simon had failed to provide even the most basic of customary-courtesies to Jesus, while the woman lavished her attention and love on Him. She was painfully-aware of her need, while Simon thought he had it all.

    She got her deepest-needs met, while Simon was left IN his need.

    Blessings!

  4. “The lesson that Simon and his friends needed to learn here was that God’s approach to sin, forgiveness and love is not a transactional approach, but a relational one.”

    So true! But it’s hard to understand unconditional love and forgiveness when your whole life is geared to the intricacies of sin management. Sin becomes a “thing” and we lose sight of the relational. That was Simon’s problem and the problem for all legalists. The woman wasn’t playing that game, so she just received mercy and grace. Yet, Jesus loved Simon, too, and wanted him to “get” it. That’s love!

  5. Ever wonder why no one challenged this “wonton woman” being inside the house? I’ll bet she was seen often in the house. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have let her through the front door in the first place. The hypocrites!

    1. Good point, certainly it wasn’t proper for her to be under the great man’s roof… I’ve wondered if she was there as a trap, or yes, as you say, for some other regular purpose…

  6. I can understand why God loves even the worst sinner because that is how I feel about my children and grandchildren. It doesn’t matter what they do, I love them and will always love them.

  7. The unfortunate thing is that this Biblical concept of sin and the greatest sinners was carried over into some of the OPDs as we irreverent Anglicans referred to Wesleyans and Baptists – meaning that degrees of sin were measured by degrees of wealth. There existed the ‘deserving poor’ though most were not considered ‘deserving’ because in their great poverty they must have sinned much. There was no shortage of wood in the rich man’s Palace.

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