Luke 7:36-50 A Walk With God Series
At special meals the door was left open, so uninvited guests could enter, sit by the walls, and hear the conversation
Interestingly, in the entire pericope, this woman says nothing. Her actions speak a thousand words.
The weeping is obviously significant, because the term used to describe it, βρέχω (brechō, to wet), is also used to describe rain showers (BAGD 147; BAA 294; Matt. 5:45; James 5:17 [twice]; Rev. 11:6; cf. Luke 17:29). This is more than light whimpering. She undoes her hair and wipes the tears away, an action that some might think immodest.10
A denarius (δηνάριον, dēnarion) was a soldier’s or laborer’s daily wage (Matt. 20:2; Tacitus, Annals 1.17; Plummer 1896: 212; Heutger 1983: 98). To put these numbers in perspective, note that Cicero made 150,000 denarii per year; officeholders under Augustus, 2,500–10,000 denarii per year; and procurators like Pilate, 15,000–75,000 denarii per year (Nolland 1989: 355). So the wages in Luke are middle-class at best. Given the fluctuating values of money across time, it is better to figure the debt in relative terms of basic wages than to figure its current monetary equivalent: about two months’ wages versus one-and-three-quarter years’ wages (assuming a six-day workweek). The graphic picture will show how great God’s forgiveness is. The parable is basic to the story and is not a later addition; it is fundamental to the issue raised in 7:39 (Nolland 1989: 356; Wilckens 1973: 400–404).
It is Jesus’ awareness of how God can transform people that makes him, rather than dwell on their past, look forward to what God can make of them.