At this week’s FCA gathering, David Sons from Lexington, SC shared with us an essential truth of who Jesus is to us by leading us through a parable of a Pharisee and a sinful woman, who worshipped and wept at the feet of Jesus. Luke, along with the other gospels, plays a key role is helping us understand more about the character of Jesus and provides key evidence that Jesus truly is the son of God.
An important part of understanding this story is being able to comprehend that how we perceive something determines how we receive it because who we perceive Jesus to be affects how we receive his forgiveness and love for us.
Luke 7:36-50 tells the story of a woman with a bad reputation who went to a Pharisee’s house where Jesus was eating, presented Him with valuable perfume, and wept at his feet. The Pharisee is quick to judge and doubts who Jesus is because he says that if Jesus were a prophet, He would know who the woman was. However, Jesus exclaims that the woman showed Him love because she knew that her sins were forgiven.
David explored four questions to help us better understand the meaning behind this story:
Question 1: Who is this woman?
An uninvited guest (verses 36-37)
“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When 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.”
The woman is most likely a prostitute, which is why the Pharisee perceives her as having such a low status. She pours out an act of worship for Jesus, and the Pharisee is surprised to find that Jesus accepts her for who she is.
Question 2: How was she recieved?
An unbelieving host (verse 39)
“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.’”
The Pharisee has a low view of Jesus because he does not acknowledge this woman’s sinfulness. He defines the woman solely by her sins and failures and is ignorant of his own sin.
Question 3: What does Jesus teach?
An unexpected twist (verse 44)
“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.’”
The question that he asks Simon the Pharisee is profound because he can’t see past her failures, but Jesus sees HER: a broken woman made in the image of God. This applies to us because we are all tempted to define one another by things we aren’t called to define one another by. Jesus really sees us, and the great part is…he STILL doesn’t turn away from us, he turns TOWARD us.
We may read verse 47 and think that the woman’s forgiveness was based on her works and worship, but this isn’t the case. The word “for” can be used to show cause or to show evidence. Here it is being used to convey that the love she showed was a result and proof of the forgiveness she was shown by Jesus. Our love for Jesus is the result, not the cause, of our forgiveness.
Question 4: Why is this woman forgiven?
An undeserved forgiveness (verse 48)
“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”
The woman is assured that her sins are ALREADY forgiven through Jesus, which is why she worships as a result. This aspect of the story is used to show how amazing Jesus is: God in the flesh, having the capacity to say to this sinful woman that she is forgiven despite her sins because of her faith in Jesus. Who we perceive Jesus to be matters because the only way to receive salvation is to put our faith in Jesus alone. The way to express our love for Him is to receive His love for us because that means we perceive Him as our Lord and Savior and we want to fully put our trust in Him alone.
To summarize the message in one short sentence: Our faith in Jesus leads to forgiveness of Jesus which results in love for Jesus. It all starts with faith.