Luke 7:36-8:3

36Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37When 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, 38and 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.

39When 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."

40Jesus 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. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

43Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

44Then 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. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

48Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

49The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

50Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

1After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (NIV)

Main Points

1. Everyone owes a debt to God that is unpayable, no matter how great or small it is (vv. 36-42a).

It appeared as Simon didn't think of himself as a sinner because of his thoughts about the woman (v. 39). But he had not reflected those Old Testament scriptures that give God's verdict on the universal depravity of humanity (2 Ch 6:36; Ps 14:2-3; Prov 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Isa 64:6).

Also, note how Jesus - in his parable - says that even though the amount of money owed by the two men to the moneylender was very different (500 denarii was worth almost two year's wages; 50 was a month's), "neither of them had the money to pay him back" (v. 42). The Bible elsewhere describes all people, by nature, as being "slaves to sin" (Jn 8:34) and "dead in sin" (Eph 2:1-3), so it is not in our power to somehow "atone" for our own sin.

2. When sinners are forgiven by God as they see their sin, repent of it, and believe in Jesus, He gives them an ability to love Him that is not hindered by the kind of life they had led before (vv. 42b-48).

The woman's actions went far beyond the minimal expectations of hospitality that Jesus expected of Simon.

Verse 47 does not suggest that the woman's love toward Jesus "caused" His forgiveness of her, but was rather the fruit or evidence of it.

The fact that she had previously come to repentance and faith is clearly demonstrated from Jesus' statement in verse 50.

3. Those who cannot see their sin, and thus their need of a Savior in Jesus, cannot be forgiven and will not truly love God - regardless of how "religious" they are (vv. 42b-48).

Simon is a good example of the kind of Pharisee that Jesus condemns elsewhere in Matthew 23 - for example: "Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean" (v. 26).

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." (1 Jn 1:8-10).

4. The contributions of women are essential to the proclamation of Jesus and his kingdom (8:1-3).

It was amazing to anyone living at the time that a rabbi would even be talking to a woman - notice, for example, Jn 4:27.

"As Jesus ministers, he draws followers who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Mary Magdalene serves after having seven demons exorcised by Jesus; Joanna, as the wife of Herod's steward, Cuza, gives evidence that Jesus' message has reached even into the palace. When these and other women come to faith, they immediately give of their resources to enable Jesus' ministry to continue. This note is important, since the passage makes clear that those contributing to Jesus' ministry spanned both gender diversity and social scale (emphasis mine). The pattern of grace received and ministry pursued emerges in the exemplary response of these women. Their ministry comes at two levels: personal involvement and the contribution of resources. Both levels of involvement are important to effective ministry." (Bock, NIV Application Commentary - Luke: 220).

Question: In what ways does Jesus "go against the grain" of people's expectations in this entire passage? What are we reminded of about Jesus, and what He calls us to be as His people?