“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.” (Luke 7:41-43)
Pete Friesen, a minister in the Apostolic Faith work, was not reticent about publically expressing his gratitude to God. He loved to get to his feet in our church services and enthusiastically give praise to God for the marvelous deliverance God gave him from a life of sin. He would testify, “As a child, I was taught about God, but for a long time the Gospel just did not appeal to me. When I was about thirteen I went to the altar to pray for salvation, and the Lord showed me some marbles I had stolen. He asked me to make restitution, and I refused. I went out of there and did not pray again to get saved until I was over forty-three years old.
“When I got out of school, I went to work in the logging camps. There I lived just like the rest of the loggers. I came to town and drank, fought, and got into all kinds of trouble. I never thought about serving the Lord. One day, though, God got hold of my heart in a definite way. I was sitting in a bar on a Saturday afternoon, watching a football game on television, when I heard a Voice say, ‘Where will you spend eternity?’ I turned toward the stool next to me but nobody was there. I turned back to watch the game and I heard that Voice again. This time it said, ‘What difference is it going to make in eternity who wins that ball game?’ Right then I knew Who was talking to me. I got up and went out of that place.
“Although I was never one to be afraid, that afternoon I was terrified. I was afraid I was going to die before I could get to church. The next Sunday morning I went to church and started to pray, and I didn’t quit praying until God came down and saved my soul. He made a wonderful change in my life! The habits and appetites of a lifetime were gone in a moment, and I had a brand new outlook on life.”
When we grasp the lost and hopeless condition we were in before we came to Christ, we will appreciate and give thanks to Him for what He did by forgiving our sins. Brother Pete had a deep gratitude for God’s mercy that reached out to him. In today’s text, the tears and precious ointment lavished upon Jesus by the uninvited woman at Simon’s house likely were prompted by the remembrance of her past sinful life, and were an expression of her deep appreciation for God’s mercy.
When Brother Pete became a minister, the importance of praising God was often a part of his sermons. In one message, he asked, “Do we praise God enough? Consider the wonderful salvation that Christ offers and all the benefits which go with it — the peace, joy, and happiness we have. Above all, think about the hope of Heaven that is ours. How can we put a value on the knowledge that we will spend eternity with Jesus? Every moment of the day our hearts should be filled with thanksgiving and praise. It ought to be like a spring bubbling up and flowing out of us all the time.”
Let us purpose to follow the example of the woman in today’s text, and like Brother Pete, freely and unashamedly express our deep gratitude to God for His abundant grace toward us.
Two events are recorded in this portion of Luke chapter 7: Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s questions (verses 18-35), and the account of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee (verses 36-50).
John the Baptist was cast into prison not long after he introduced Christ to the Jewish people. Perhaps the reports reaching him after his incarceration were incomplete, but what he heard did not match his expectations of how the Messiah would destroy the Roman oppressors and assume the throne. This caused the prophet to become disheartened, and he sent two of his followers to Jesus to ask if He truly was the One for whom Israel had been waiting. Instead of giving the messengers a categorical answer, Jesus told them to tell John the observable deeds which He had done. He knew that these physical proofs would reassure the prophet in his time of suffering.
In verse 28, Jesus gave the highest commendation to the prophet, saying that “among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” However, he followed that supreme compliment with the words, “. . . but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Bible scholars suggest that the meaning of this somewhat enigmatic statement is that the “least” Christian is greater in privilege than John the Baptist, who in reality was the last of the Old Testament prophets because the New Testament dispensation of grace began after Calvary.
The event at Simon the Pharisee’s house in verses 36-50 is recorded only in Luke’s Gospel. While similar in some respects to accounts in Matthew, Mark, and John of Jesus eating at the house of Simon the leper, Bible historians generally agree that the differences between the two situations are too numerous to view them as the same occasion.
Parties or banquets in Jesus’ day were public events. Homes had open courtyards where uninvited people could stand and observe the festivities. It was customary for guests at a banquet to recline on one elbow while eating, with their feet stretched out behind them. Thus, it would have been quite easy for a woman to move out of the crowd of spectators and weep over Jesus’ feet, then dry them with her hair and pour ointment over them.
Verse 37 says the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet “was a sinner.” The wording in verse 39 could suggest that she was one who had practiced prostitution. The Pharisees used the term “sinner” in a very condemnatory sense, referring to those whom they considered the lowest of people morally and spiritually. However, Jesus’ statements about the woman in verses 44-50 seem to indicate that her actions were an expression of joyful gratitude — that her heart already had been converted when she had turned from her life of shame in an earlier encounter with the Savior.
Alabaster was a type of gypsum which was white but not as hard as marble, making it easier to carve into containers.
In verse 44, Jesus pointed out that Simon had failed to provide the common courtesy of washing guests’ feet. Foot washing was viewed simply as hospitable service to one’s guests, and was a common custom at formal Jewish banquets. It typically took place either upon the guest’s arrival or before the meal, and was done by servants in the household.
Cheek kissing, alluded to in verse 45, was a ritual or social gesture given to indicate friendship, perform a greeting, confer congratulations, comfort someone, or to show respect. It was a common form of greeting in Israel well before Jesus’ time. Failure or refusal to give or accept a kiss was taken as an indicator of antipathy. The fact that Simon did not provide Jesus with the normal social amenities may show that he had invited Jesus out of curiosity about a local celebrity rather than as a seeker of truth.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The ministry of the Son of Man
C. The climax of the ministry of the Son of Man
3. The authentication of the Son of Man
c. The explanation of John the Baptist (7:18-35)
(1) John’s inquiry (7:18-20)
(2) Jesus’ reply (7:21-23)
(3) Jesus’ message of John (7:24-28)
(4) The varied response (7:29-30)
(5) Jesus’ characterization of Israel (7:31-35)
d. The gratitude of the woman (7:36-50)
(1) The setting (7:36-38)
(2) The Pharisee’s reaction (7:39)
(3) Jesus’ explanation (7:40-48)
(4) The result (7:49-50)
The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears showed tremendous love for Him and appreciation for His forgiveness. Like her, we want to recognize what Jesus has done for us, and freely express our gratitude toward Him.