Faithlife Sermons

HG059 Luke 7:36-50

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:57
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Luke 7:36–50 ESV
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
What a great passage of Scripture this is! And some basic things to grasp as we see a woman come along and by faith is forgiven and saved.
Why did Simon invite Jesus to his house? Was he curious to know Him? Was he interested in what He was? Was it a pure motive or a negative one? Did he invite Him to dishonour Him?
Despite inviting Jesus there was a real lack of hospitality which, for these times, was just plain rude. The lack of kindness shown to Him would have been evident to the other guests. There had been no kiss of greeting when he arrived, no water for his feet to get rid of the grit and dirt, there was no bathroom facilities to freshen up, no anointing with olive oil which was customary. He was not made to feel at home. The invitation seems to me to be totally disingenuous. Mind you, us men, generally, don’t really have a grasp on hospitality. Women normally, on the other hand, seem to pull out all the stops and know just how to make someone welcome and we men should learn from them. As a bachelor I did not realise how lacking I was!
Living in Macedonia hospitality is central to life. You can drop in anytime to people’s homes and you would be made welcome. f they did not have snacks or pop they would send the kids to the shop, they’d make some coffee, give you a drop of home-made brandy, and maybe even cook some meat. I really miss this about living there; not the eating, but the hospitality. I find hospitality in the UK missing some important ingredients even among Christians.
I don’t know how things were in the past but most people don’t like you inviting yourself to their homes for you need an appointment arranged 2 week’s in advance and there is the feeling that you are imposing on their, what those across the bridge say, an Englishman’s home is his castle. Or you have an open house and say to people you can always come round but nobody does for they feel awkward. Should hospitality feel like this? I think that having experienced the culture of another nation where I initially found it to be a bit disconcerting and feeling like I was putting people out but quickly, I discovered, it was not like this at all for there was a genuine, glad welcome. I hope that you will always find this in our home - but this can only happen if you knock on our door!
Jesus, though, was not shy, He accepted the invitation to go along to Simon’s house and would have known the reasons why He had been called to be a guest but went along anyway even if there were misgivings about it. The things that Jesus does has purpose as we shall see.
Barely had they reclined to eat that a notorious woman turned up and she was definitely not specially invited.
Out English translation loses a bit here, what it actually says is: “Look, a woman!” It was shocking she was there.
She stood behind Him at His feet. How do you stand at someone’s feet? The word ‘stood’ here is a metaphor that simply means that she was present at His feet and therefore was not standing but kneeling.
And then she does, as we are told, all the hospitable things that Simon should have done in her own kind of way. Maybe she had seen how mistreated Jesus was but she, she was so thankful for Him. And there at His feet she started crying overwhelmed by her emotions and possibly embarrassed she had no towel to wipe his feet so used her hair instead. She didn’t care what a mess she was anointing his feet with the perfume and kissing his feet. It was all very shocking for everyone present! As indeed it would be to us if something like that happened here.
Well, Simon was incensed. What is THAT woman doing in my house?! He didn’t say that but He certainly thought it. And how disgusting what she is up to and how surprising it is that Jesus is allowing it. She is touching Him and He should repel her. The only thing that was right about his thoughts was that Jesus should know what kind of woman she is.
What kind of woman was she? She was a sinner. My, O my! What kind of sinner? Well, many have speculated from her actions, especially the loosened hair, that she was a prostitute. She could have been, of course, like some say that this is Mary Magdalene in this story but who she was and what she had done is speculation only for Scripture is not explicit about the details. However, she had done some things that made her recognisable.
Let me ask a question: was she more of a sinner than me or you? Maybe the kind of sin she committed had greater consequences in life but
Romans 3:23 NKJV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And so the consequences of death is the same (Rom 6:23). But she came to Jesus. There had been a realisation in her of her need of Him to help her. She knew that she was a sinner and came with tears of repentance to the feet of Jesus. Oh how we should realise the depth of our depravity and realise the depth of our need of forgiveness. Too easily we gloss over sin as if it has no consequences. But death is the consequence.
So, Jesus tells a parable to deal with the prejudice of Simon, the Pharisee.
There were two debtors, one owed some, about 50 days worth of wages, and the other owed a lot, about 500 days worth of wages. But both were in debt and unable to pay for even if you work you still need to pay your daily bills. Outwardly the woman had the greater debt - but both were bankrupt.

The great supporter of the eighteenth-century ministries of John Wesley and George Whitefield, the Countess of Huntingdon, once invited a duchess to hear Whitefield preach and received this amazing written reply:

It is monstrous to be told, that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting; and I cannot but wonder that your Ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding.

On the other hand there are those who think that they have the ability to pay the debt:

Some submit the currency of integrity. “God, I work with compulsive liars. The only honest man I know is myself. Surely I’m acceptable.” Others would argue that their domestic currency ought to make it. “In this X-rated world, my life is a wholesome G. I’m faithful to my wife. I love her and my children. I am a good husband, father, and son. I reckon that’s all I’ll need!” Social currency is a favorite too. “I am truly color-blind. My money (lots of it!) goes to the needy. I volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. I really do care. The world needs more people like me, and so does heaven.” Church currency is perhaps the biggest delusion. “I live at church. My goodness will surely be accepted.”

Those who think this way do not realise the depth of their debt. Being in debt in the past is not the same as today: even in the early 1900s you would go to jail if you couldn’t pay. Today you might get a CCJ or, at worse, be made bankrupt but these things are not so hard to deal with anymore for the whole process has been made easy, you can still have a bank account and after a year you are no longer deemed bankrupt. Back in Jesus’ day it was not easy. You could end up as a slave and your wife and children would also be sold. The need for forgiveness of debt is desperate. In a different form of the prayer our Lord taught we could say: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. We are all in debt to God and without forgiveness the prison called hell is the place we go.
But our God abundantly pardons when we come to Him through Jesus Christ. There are none “so bad” that Christ cannot forgive! And just how much love we have for our Lord is in direct contrast with the amount we feel we have been forgiven. There has to be a consciousness of sin and how much we were in debt. Those who have had radical conversions having been forgiven despite their crime-ridden lives tend to be the same ones who are radical in their discipleship of Jesus. Those who are not growing in their faith are those who have forgotten they were forgiven their sins, we have forgotten how much we owed to God.
This woman who came before Jesus was very well aware and had come to realise she had the joy of forgiveness for she knew God paid it all on her behalf which is why she bought that jar of perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus which is extremely expensive. It was an extravagant gift from an extremely grateful heart. We know she realised she was forgiven for she loved much and she worshipped at the feet of Jesus. Until then she had been used to rejection but Jesus had accepted her.
Jesus accepts us if we accept His offer of forgiveness bought by Him when He shed His blood for our sin on the cross.
This parable of the debtors rebuked Simon. In contrast with the woman the lack of hospitality, his judgement of the woman and the judgement he had of Jesus reveals how little he realised his need of forgiveness. The lack of love in this man was all the evidence you need. One who has been forgiven also forgives much. For forgiveness is given freely without conditions but this man had no or extremely little experience of it. But he also knew that the one who had been forgiven the most would love the most and therefore his answer condemned himself but justified the woman.
Then Jesus speaks to the woman to confirm what she had already experienced for He knew who she was and understood what had been done: You are forgiven, your faith has saved you, go in peace. Oh what joy must have been hers verifying that her trust in Jesus did not go unjustified. Peace was now hers and no-one could take it away for the guilty conscience had been cleansed.
Today’s ‘snowflake’ generation are seeking acceptance and affirmation more than ever which means that they have a deep need but they know not that their need is of forgiveness - it is we who have the good news of hope to give to our touchy-feely contemporaries. We need to make them aware of their sinfulness and shame and show the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We, as Christians, who are alive in Christ, still have tendencies that can have their way in us if we allow them. The more we walk with Jesus the more aware we are of our failings and constant need of forgiveness, always in debt to God for, like Paul, we can express the sentiment that we were the worst of sinners because we easily succumb to unrighteous thoughts, making judgements of others and so on but we also experience daily His forgiveness and cleansing for we are in constant need of the supply of grace and mercy from God that He freely gives.
She was forgiven because she had put her faith in Jesus and she showed her gratefulness in return. She is an example of one whose love is great for she realised how big the debt was that she owed and nothing could ever repay it without a generous God forgiving it. We who love little have not yet realised how great our debt actually was for the destination of the woman and the destination of Simon and the destination of us were one and the same for all sin is abhorrent to God. Where does that leave us? We cannot continue in sin that’s for sure but perhaps we need to come to God and like Isaiah meditate on His holiness and awesomeness to get a better idea of the size of our indebtedness to realised how much we have been forgiven. This woman was grateful for she had been forgiven. The marks of the forgiven are these:
We shall desire to be near Him
We shall have deep humility
We shall want to serve Him

The Jerusalem Bible brings out the meaning of Jesus’ words: “For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven, or she would not have shown such great love.”

Let us be grateful that we have been forgiven such a great debt and have His acceptance and approval and so let us, like this woman, go home in peace.


Matthew 11:28–29 NKJV
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


Bryant, A. (1992). Sermon outlines for evangelistic services. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
Bryant, A. (1993). Sermon outlines on the life of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Pentz, C. M. (1976). Expository Outlines from Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Wood, C. R. (1998). Sermon Outlines on Gospel Passages. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
(2004). Priscilla Papers Volume 18.
(2005). Journal of Biblical Literature, 124.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 08:48 02 February 2018.
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