Do You See What I See?
Turn to Luke 7, beginning with verse 36. In our text this morning, there are three main characters - a woman, a Pharisee named Simon and a cameo appearance by Jesus. There is a similar story in Matthew, Mark and John, but I’m under the inclination that this is a separate unrelated event, so we’re going to take this story as it is.
As we look at each character, they will ask us, “Do you see what I see?” That’s an important question -
Character 1: The Woman
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
Now it was customary to recline - tables were low to the floor, and you would lay on your right side, on a pillow, eat with your left hand - head at the table and feet extended out.
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 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.
What would drive a woman to do this? Do what? Not only was this a very intimate act of devotion, but she broke several social norms and she put herself at risk (authentic faith is risky). First, she barged into this home unwelcome and uninvited. A woman of her unclean status would not have been welcome in an elder’s home.
Worse than that, and here’s the big one, she let her hair down. Women in that culture did not unbind their hair in public. It was considered shameful and at times grounds for divorce. It communicated sensuality.
Why would she do this? Why put herself in a position where she might be rejected again? She had no idea what would happen barging into that home. She had no idea if Jesus would accept her or not - but she saw something that drove her to Jesus. If we were to ask her, “Why did you do that,” she might ask us - “Don’t you see what I see?” Well, what did she see?
1) She saw her Condition
She lived a sinful life, and somewhere along the way she came to the place where she could no longer ignore her condition. We don’t know how long she lived in sin, but it was long enough to be called a sinful life. And to live a sinful life continually, one has to ignore or suppress the reality of his or her condition.
We’re are good at that, aren’t we? We’re good at ignoring God. Good at ignoring our sin. We do our best to avoid the reality of our condition - that in sin we are dead, separated from God. We do what we can to avoid conviction, guilt, shame - we want to hide our struggles, our temptations and our weaknesses. We don’t want anyone to know we’re broken.
Somehow, she came to see the realization of her brokenness and sin. We know that she finally saw her sin for what it was - an offense to a holy and righteous God!
Until we understand the holiness of God, we will never understand the offensiveness of our sin.
There really are two dangers here - one is to ignore our sinful condition, and the other is to be fixated upon it. Some people recognize their sin and shame and guilt - but never look past it. All they see is how bad they are.
But not this woman, she saw her condition, but she also …
2) She saw the Cure
Yes, there is sin and we must acknowledge that we have all sinned. We have all broken one or more of God’s moral laws. So, she acknowledged that, but she also saw that Jesus was her cure.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
… Spiritual and physical death is the consequence of sin. We are dead in our transgressions. Listen,
Sinful people are dead people, and dead people can’t cure themselves.
There is no home remedy for sin. You can’t cure yourself. That’s why we need the rest of
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And so she went to Jesus, the only cure for her condition.
Perhaps some of you today need to see your sinful condition. Quit ignoring it; stop sugar-coating it; or perhaps stop fixating on it, stop being consumed with it - and receive the cure the sin condition - Eph. 1:7 In Jesus we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
Character 2: The Pharisee
When 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.”
Remember, Simon is a Pharisee. He practices a strict adherence to the Torah (the law). He’s righteous. Dignified. A religious leader. Pious. A man of God. He is ceremonially clean.
Simon is also asking, “Do you see what I see!” Well, what does he see?
He sees something we don’t. He knows her story, at least some of it - but the reader does not. We don’t know anything about this lady. Don’t know her age, her background, her family - did she have kids, was she married or a widow, young, old … we don’t know her story at all. We don’t even know what kind of sinful life she lived or why.
Scripture leaves out those details - and I believe for a reason. See, some people just want the scoop; the juicy details. They want to know what people are doing and why - but that’s all. And they focus on the details, and they focus on the behavior and it hinders them from seeing the person. And then we become like the Pharisee. So what did he see?
1) He saw a Category.
Look at the language he uses - “… if only Jesus knew WHAT kind of woman.” Simon classified her - he slapped a big Scarlet Letter on her chest and put her in a category! He saw everything except what he was supposed to see - a broken woman, made in the image of God, humble and repentant and weeping at Jesus’ feet!
I hate to admit this, but too often, I am the Pharisee - classifying people.
When we put people into categories, we devalue them.
When we put people into categories, they become “those people.”
They become an item, an inconvenience, a political category ….
So what do we do? We do what we’re always supposed to do - imitate Jesus (Eph. 5:1). So let’s look at
Character 3: Jesus
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
I love this about Jesus - he didn’t attack Simon, or belittle him - Jesus simply exposed the truth through a little story, a parable. Sometimes the direct approach is the least effective.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
What’s His point? It’s as if Jesus were saying, “Simon, you think you’re so righteous, but the truth is, your condition and her condition are exactly the same - you both have a debt that neither of you can pay.” See, Jesus saw something that Pharisees can’t see -
Jesus saw a Universal Condition.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
“Simon, that little lie you told in 5th grade makes you just as guilty as this woman who has lived a sinful life!”
John Bunyan wrote -
“One leak will sink a ship; and one sin will destroy a sinner.” - John Bunyan
Then 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.
Not sinful woman. Not that kind of woman - just woman.
“Simon, do you see what I see? Have you forgotten that Adoni does not look at the things people look at, but He looks at the heart? But since you’re so concerned about behavior, let’s compare your behavior with hers.
“See, Simon …
Then 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. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
If you want to talk behavior, your “self-righteous” actions are nothing compared to what she just did.
Before we judge the Pharisee too harshly, listen to one of my commentaries -
“Jesus proceeded to contrast her attitude with that of his host. It now comes out that, though Simon had invited Jesus to his home, he had not given him the treatment due to an honoured guest.”
Just a quick thought - we want Jesus to always be our honored guest on Sunday mornings. How well do you and I treat Jesus as our honored guest? Phones, drinks, causing distractions ….
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Remember, only the Sovereign, Almighty God Most High has the authority to forgive sin. That’s why they asked, “Who is this.” So, if Jesus had the authority to forgive sins … put 2 and 2 together.
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Now, her actions did not save her, nor did they pardon her. She was not forgiven or saved on the basis of her actions.
She was forgiven and saved because of her faith, and it was her faith that fueled her actions, and her actions revealed her heart.
And that is what Jesus sees.
Now, Jesus didn’t deny she lived a sinful life. He said, “Her many sins have been forgiven.” Even though He acknowledged her many sins, that is not how He categorized her.
Jesus sees real people, with real needs, who need real forgiveness from a real Savior.
So, this morning, which character are you? We all want to play, Jesus …
As we head into the holiday season, running here, going there -
What do you see?
As our political system is rocked by sexual scandals and our country is so deeply divided - What do you see?
Prayer to receive Christ
Prayer of forgiveness
Prayer of praise