VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 7:36-50 (KJV, Public Domain)
Forgiveness is something none will make it to heaven without. It doesn’t matter who you are or what one has done in life, from the highest to the lowest, without accepting the life Christ offers through His salvation and forgiveness, we will not make it in. The Bible records, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared,” (Psalm 130:3-4).
Who could stand? Absolutely no one! (See Romans 3:10). Without His covering and remission of sins, the pathway to heaven will be blocked. It doesn’t matter if one’s walk of life is a Pharisee or a prostitute (as some suppose the woman in this lesson was). There is not an individual who is worthy enough to enter the gates of glory without Jesus’ forgiveness.
Question: What would happen if today God sat down and took account of all the wrongs we have done? What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe? We were there! Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in. He knew that man could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so through Him we obtain that freedom along with grace, mercy and compassion as a people who don’t deserve it.
The Bible reminds us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8). I guarantee if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ. But thank God, He acted in love to save to us! No just us – but everyone who comes to Him in faith regardless of the background of sin.
The verses of study in this lesson will tell of one woman’s enormous expression of love for Jesus at having her sins forgiven and the criticism it brought.
A Sinner’s Precious Gift
Luke 7:36-38 “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he could eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And 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.”
It wasn’t unusual then nor is it today for a respected teacher/preacher of God’s word to be invited to dine with officials. Jesus opened Himself to people from all walks of life (even the Pharisees who were often seen at odds with Him), and without reservation “he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.”
We are not told exactly how long He was there but during the process of the meal came a disturbance at dinnertime. “A woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment.” At this point of the lesson it is not immediately known her plans but just the fact that this woman of ill repute, who many suppose her to be a prostitute, dared entered a Pharisee’s house and draw near to a respected Rabbi drew eyes of speculation at her coming.
Some reading her story today may think how bold of her to come near to Jesus in her dejected state. Rest assured, those at dinner didn’t think her bold. They probably thought her even more rude and full of sin to think to defile the atmosphere with her presence. Honestly, what Pharisee would normally let the likes of her come into his very home? It was unheard of. Since the crowds often gathered to hear Jesus speak wherever He went, she came in amongst some of the others until who she is caught the attention of the religious elite.
Nonetheless, she was there with all that she had in her facing the shame of her wrongs she saw etched in the faces of the onlookers. Yet, they were not the audience whose attention she was seeking. Her heart drew her to the feet of Jesus. This is where she stood humbly holding her precious gift, an “alabaster box of ointment,” (an expensive gift to say the least which spoke volumes of her sacrifice). With the feelings of all that she was as opposed to all that He would do for her – it was overwhelming. This is what happens when sin meets with Savior. The tears would not be bidden to stop. The heart and spirit within spoke through the flow from her eyes.
Living in sin for so long she recognized her unworthiness before the Sovereign. It doesn’t take a genius for us to see that she saw herself and Jesus in a different light than everyone else present. Did no one else there see their sin for what it was? Did any present even believe they had sin to repent of? Or, was it just the nature of her sin drew extra scowls as opposed to the hidden things in other’s hearts?
Regardless, her heart response came through “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.” Her actions there may have seemed inappropriate to those eyeballing her, but she received no correction from Jesus. Sorrowfulness over one’s sins is always a most appropriate response and she expressed that sorrow in the humblest way she knew how.
The feet were particularly dirty, especially in the day where sandals and dirt roads met daily. From a previous article titled Wash Me Jesus, I wrote (speaking of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet):
“In case you didn’t know, this was a very gross job reserved for the lowest of servants in the house. The roads were not paved but rather dusty and muddy and littered with all types of animal material left behind (if you catch my meaning). Open sandals were the norm of fashion which really didn’t do anything to keep the elements of all that had been stepped on out. Feet stank and were blistered, sore and probably repulsive to us today. No such thing as a pedicure back then.” (Word For Life Says)
Yet, this is where this sinful woman positioned herself and performed the task that others didn’t want. She did it without complaint, rather she cried over her pitiful state compared to His holiness. Her tears become the water basin and her hair became the towel. Anointing his feet with the costly gift of love, somehow, she knew despite its extravagance, it would never be enough to repay what He would do in taking away her sins. Therefore, with love and sorrow meeting together in her heart, she kissed His feet unashamedly.
Christ’s Precious Gift
Luke 7:39-43 “Now 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. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”
As if her actions weren’t appalling enough, Simon the Pharisee thought Jesus’ were more so. The self-righteous have a way of silently judging the actions and suppositions of others while maintaining a high regard for their own interest and view of self.
This Pharisee was taken aback more by Jesus, I think, then this woman. She was a noted sinner, and nobody expected better of her. But, Jesus… He had his mind made up about Him. Whatever reason pressed on him to invite Jesus to dinner in the first place, the fact is at this point he thinks of Jesus in a low fashion to the point of questioning in himself whether or not He is truly a man of God at all or not: “If he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”
The word “if” tells the story of where he believes Jesus is coming from. A prophet is a holy man of God. Throughout history they have been special vessels set aside to be God’s spokesmen. One who claims connections with God as tight as Jesus claims should know or at least sense sin when they see it. Therefore, why would He let the likes of her even come near Him, let alone touch Him as she has done? One conclusion comes to mind as far as the Pharisee sees. To him, Jesus is not a real prophet.
Too bad so many focus only on what appears to be so on the outside in that day as well as our own. Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31). Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin! Please get that right! However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them. It may be harder for those such as the self-righteous Pharisees to see their need, but for this woman and others like her, she had no problem weeping at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus, knowing what he was thinking, used this as an opportunity to shed some spiritual light on the darkness of his heart and others in the room who may be inwardly scowling as well. With a parable He spoke of a “creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.” Both owed the creditor, one more than the other, significantly so; yet, neither had means to pay back accordingly. In either situation they were both subject to whatever the creditor should do to penalize their faulty stance.
In that day they couldn’t file bankruptcy and get a clean slate to start over. There were no government assisted credit remediation programs. In other areas of the Bible it tells of stories where children could be taken to work off debt (2 Kings 4:1-7); he and all his family could be sold into slavery (Matthew 18:24-25); and, so on. A debt owed would be a debt repaid one way or another. I find it no small coincidence that when teaching the disciples how to pray they Lord’s Prayer, the words rendered in midst, plead: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” (Matthew 6:12), for truly it is and was a debt owed that could never be repaid by human standards.
Nonetheless, in the telling of His parable, Jesus noted the actions of the creditor. He took it upon himself, as the one who had the power to demand payback, to remit the balance and cancel the charge against both. “He frankly forgave them both.”
Simon was probably startled a little by its telling because not too many persons would cancel a debt so easily and not demand payment. Rarely does one walk away from money, especially if it was yours to begin with. The creditor had the right to obtain what was lawfully his, but he chose, out of compassion (we are assuming), not to do so.
Drawing him out of his musings, Jesus asked, “Which of them will love him most?” Simon’s response, whether he wanted to admit it or not, was appropriate. He said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” He that stood to lose the most but gained the most grace instead – it is he that will be the most grateful and “love him most.”
When forgiveness erases debt and pardon has been enacted that a life may remain to thrive in freedom, it inspires love. “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love…” (Proverbs 17:9). If this is true for a man how much more with God? Jesus therefore said, “Thou hast rightly judged.”
Luke 7:44-47 “And 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. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore 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.”
If Simon failed to do what was according to custom for an honored guest one must question his real motives for inviting Jesus to dinner at all. Was there a genuine interest in Jesus and what He represents, or was it another worked up ploy of some of the Pharisees to trap Jesus in words or actions? At this point one can only speculate.
According to custom everything the woman did in an over the top fashion should have already been performed as normal service for a guest coming into a house, especially the house of a respected Pharisee. We have already discussed about the feet being washed (which Simon failed to provide for). But, other social codes performed were the kiss of greeting by the host (which Simon failed to do; for examples see Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12), and anointing the head with oil (which again, Simon fell short of social courtesy). These were ways to express honor and respect, and help refresh one when coming into a house, particularly to a dinner or feast. But this sinful woman offered up extravagant oil for His feet whose perfume would fragrance the whole house.
Jesus said of her, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.” Her actions spoke volumes of being remorseful and repentant. No, her works did not save her. No, her expensive gift did not make room in heaven for her. At some point she realized the great relief Jesus could bring to her messed up life. Did she hear Him through a previous teaching? Who knows? What matters now is her humility of heart before the Savior seeking forgiveness.
Jesus said, “For she loved much” because she was forgiven much. Whereas one who believes they are alright may not express the same deep regard for forgiven sin. As opposed to “whom little is forgiven,” that individual may take for granted the gift of grace, as hinted at in the story of the two debtors.
Luke 7:48-50 “And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
“Thy sins are forgiven,” were the blessed words the Savior spoke over the sinner here and in our life as well. Jesus didn’t justify what she did, but He forgave her. Let me make this very clear again, God will never, ever condone our sin or pat us on the back for it, but we can be free from them. Like that woman, we could be standing in the midst of our mess, but He is ready, holding the keys to your release. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Turn to Him in all humility of heart, confess and accept it today!
“Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” Coming to Jesus with all our wrongs and trusting Him to heal and forgive is a walk of faith; steps that begin with believing in Him as the Savior of our soul. It’s the only way to find true peace in one’s life.
No matter who you are or where you are from, Jesus can forgive any sins of those who come to Him in faith and trust in His free gift of salvation. Today, if you are not born again and you want to find release as the woman in today’s lesson did, I urge you to take care of it immediately. Above, I quoted 1 John 1:9 which was written to a church of believers who already knew Christ as their Savior. If you want your confession to work you must be born again, then like the woman we too can find release and forgiveness.
Speaking with Nicodemus one night, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5). “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:38).
Be blessed, come to Him in faith and accept His forgiveness today!
PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Saved by Faith
Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Saved by Faith
Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Saved by Faith
Alabaster Flask Lace-Up Craft: Alabaster Flask Lace-Up Craft (Cardstock is best to use. I used gold ribbon due to the expensive nature of the gift and cut a slit for “oil” to flow out of the top. Enjoy!)
Draw the Scene: Saved By Faith Draw the Scene
Memory Verse: Saved By Faith Memory Verse
How Many Words: Saved by Faith How Many Words