PRAYER: DEAR LORD, Today I need You. I have no strength of my own; I have no power of my own. I need Your help even in the most mundane of tasks that may come my way. I need Your wisdom in the largest challenges I face in my life. I need Your anointing and Your Holy Ghost power to energize me in You; in the Spirit. I humbly depend on You to supply everything I need to make it through this day. My hope and My peace rest on You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
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
“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV
There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.
Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.
The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).
That’s what faith sees!
With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger, (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also, (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life, (Esther 4:11).
A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.
With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14, KJV).
In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!
In the measure of mess seen in the world, uncertainty has a way of tossing one about. As waves lifting the vessel to scary heights only to crash back down again are the problems many faces daily. Circumstances that provoke fear instead of inspiring faith.
The catch-all of it is whatever side one spends the most thought in, it has the strongest hold on that life. If it is one faith, then with one foot in front of the other one will march forward into depths unknown without regard to the thrashing swells of the sea. But if it is in fear, the move forward becomes halted. Continuing to sail to the other side no longer seems a viable option, thus one cries out as the disciples did, “Master, carest thou not that we perish,” (Mark 4:38)?
Of course, He cares. He loves you. You are His and He is riding in the boat of life with you. He has never abandoned you. He has never forsaken you. People are the ones who have allowed the fear and uncertainty around to obscure their view of the Savior.
Refocus on Him. Imagine His protection covering you like the most indomitable shield. Thus He is at the helm of your life, speaking, “Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39). What comfort that brings to the tossed soul knowing He still has it all in His hands.
So, “Why are ye so fearful,” (Mark 4:40)?
Fearfulness comes from a lack of belief. The storms want us to see things through the lens of the ferocious wind-tossed seas, but Jesus wants us to see them as being subdued already under His dominion and authority. He wants His people to believe more in the promises of His word than the fearsomeness of the waves.
In Him we are safe, secured, and loved. Therefore, as the psalmist reminds us:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” (Psalm 27:1-3).
In other words, we are safe in Him!
In a baseball game, safe means one has arrived at the base untouched and unhindered. I can’t promise you that life will never touch you in an attempt to knock you out of the running. But, riding with Jesus you can still arrive safe.
“Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said,” Joshua 14:12
At the age of 85, Caleb was more than ready to take what the Lord had promised to him. You see, when Joshua and Caleb were sent as spies into the land of Canaan there was a promise left for their belief in God. “Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God,” Joshua 14:9. As of yet, Caleb had not gotten his promise. But, now he was ready to take what the Lord had promised.
Only there was this one thing, the Anakim were there. The Anakim were giants, nonetheless, their stature brought no fear in the heart of Caleb. He was ready to “drive them out,” (Joshua 14:12). In fact, when the rest of Israel was ready to run scared when God first brought them to the Promised Land, he and Joshua were ready then to take care of business. Years later, this aged gentleman, as some would consider him, was still just as ready to take what God had promised to him.
A lot of times God gives us promises but in our eyes, it may look insurmountable. Obstacles are in the midst of the promise that makes it appear as though one can never possess it. I like that Caleb was 85 years old. I like that it was over 40 years before he had the opportunity to go for his promise. I like that there were giants in the land that made it look impossible. I like these three points because they are some of the most popular reasons people give up on waiting for the promises of God.
1. Caleb was 85 years old, this implies limitations. Instead of looking to God for their source too many people focus on their own limitations, their own inabilities to get the job done. Not Caleb! He didn’t care about his age, God promised it and he was ready for it. It is as the British Evangelist John Flavel stated, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” The Bible says that God is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20. Take the limits off of yourself, and more importantly, take the limits off of God.
2. Over 40 years implies waiting. This is something that is very hard for most people. Many times over in the Bible people waited quite a bit of time before they laid hold of what God said He would do in their lives. If God said it then He will do it, but our job is to wait. Here are some encouraging reminders about waiting on God:
- “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,” (Isaiah 40:31).
- “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him,” (Lamentations 3:25).
- “Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me,” (Micah 7:7).
3. There being giants in the land implies obstacles. Many people look at their dreams, their hopes and the promises of God and can believe them for everyone else except themselves. To them, it looks as if they can never possess it. This is a hopelessness that God does not desire to see in His people. The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith.” This is a key verse in Scripture and God made sure it was put in there four times (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11 and Heb. 10:38). We are to have more faith in the God we serve as Caleb did when he said, “It may be that the Lord will be with me,” (Joshua 14:12), then in the obstacles before us.
Don’t be afraid to take your mountain today! Don’t be afraid to go after what God has already promised you. Don’t look at your limitations, the waiting or the obstacles. God can and will overcome it all to fulfill what He promised to you! God bless.
Ok, so let’s start this week off right. You may not be perfect in some people’s eyes, but God loves you just like you are. He should know, He’s the one who designed you to be you. So what if your hair (like mine) is a little frizzy and curly (before I attack it with a straightening iron ). So what if people don’t like the way your voice may sound. So what to what people think period. God has a purpose for your life and He designed you to be you to carry out that purpose. So, go ahead, strut what God gave you today and BE YOU!
No matter who you are in life there will be a
time when you need help outside of yourself.
When all your inner capacities are drained and
strained and we feel like we can’t press
through anymore, we need Him to refill and
strengthen us in this journey.
The good news is God is here for His people
to give them what they need to make it
through even the hardest times of life. Where
we lack, He will supply. Where we come up
short, He can meet us there and provide the
means to keep us, deliver us, and set us free.
Turn to Him today. “The LORD will give strength
unto his people; the LORD will bless his
people with peace.” Psalm 29:11.
Only planted people grow!
If you want to thrive and grow and be all that God called you to be, you have to have deep roots planted in His house, in His service, and in His worship that your soul may be fully nourished in Him.
“Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God,” Psalm 92:13.