A family who moved into a new neighborhood had a late start one morning. As a result their six-year-old missed her school bus. Though it would make him late for work her father agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. After 20 minutes of going in circles they finally arrived at the school, which turned out to be only a few blocks away from where they lived. Angrily, her dad asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home? "We went the way the school bus does," she said. "That’s the only way I know."
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every one us followed the way of Jesus Christ simply because it was the only way we knew? Wouldn’t it be marvelous if when we should take a long look at life for what life is, all we could see is Jesus Christ? Here in the text, a luxurious banquet given by Simon, a leader among the Pharisees in Galilee. He had invited Jesus to dinner because important people invite important people to dinner. When an important man like Jesus shows up at the synagogue, it was expected that an important person in the synagogue would invite Him to dinner. Jesus was the guest of honor; during these times dining was done very differently than what we today are used to.
The attendees would recline on one of the couches placed around a U-shaped table. And being that it was a public dinner, people from off the street would simply wander in and sat on one of the benches that circled the room so that they could hear the conversation and debate concerning the important issues of the day that would occur during the meal. Most of the people there came in order to see Jesus, most of the people were curious about Him because they heard stories about things He said and done. Perhaps the most curious was the host of the banquet, Simon the Pharisee, in fact Simon was extremely curious about Jesus and so this was the primary reason for the banquet—it was given to appease Simon’s deep curiosity. Simon wanted to see what he could see. Allow me to ask a question, it’s kind of personal but I’ll ask it anyhow—when you come into the house of God what do you come to see?
Some people come strictly to hear the choir sing and to see who will lead this song or that song. Some come to see what others are wearing, some come to see if they can walk away with some juicy gossip. Sometimes you can clearly identify who they are because just when the pastor takes to the pulpit in order to preach the Word that is when they put up what we just to call that old Baptist finger as a sign they are quietly tipping out because they saw all they wanted to see. What do you come to see in Church on Sunday? Well it ought to be no one but Jesus Christ. However, this was not the case with Simon the Pharisee. Yes he did want to Jesus but not for the right reasons. He was hoping to expose violations of Hebrew law regarding the washing of hands before meals? He believed Jesus might be a prophet, but he was hoping to learn more during the meal? His early condemnation of the Savior revealed a need of understanding and concern. He was a typical Pharisee whose life was dominated by tradition. And so, let us first look into what Simon the Pharisee saw that day.
1. WHAT SIMON THE PHARISEE SAW
He couldn’t stand for anyone to come around and try to break the tradition of the elders—and he wanted to see for himself if Jesus would do so. And so he invited Jesus, without welcoming Jesus if he actually welcomed Jesus it would be from the heart and not out of curiosity or deceit. Simon the Pharisee was not a good person at all; he was filled to the brim with righteous indignation. He was a narcissist and a bigot. Simon was very judgmental and extremely rude to of all people the actual Son of God!
As we continue to read this portion of Scripture it is quite clear that Simon was very skeptical of Jesus Christ. He was not even sure if Jesus was a prophet, much less the Messiah (v.39). Regardless of his skepticism and his desire to disprove Jesus. Simon appears to be a man who loves being in the company of celebrities, and his mind Jesus was a celebrity. He heard so much about Him, and wanted to see what all the excitement over Him was all about. He wanted to meet Jesus on an informal and somewhat friendly basis. If Simon were alive today it is quite possible that he would be featured on the TV series, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” because the house of Simon was a house of the rich. The house of rich during this time always included an open courtyard, which was usually situated in the center of the house. Better yet, the house itself was built around an open courtyard. Such as the case in this text, it was completely normal sometimes for the host to allow the public to stand around and listen to the discussions and debates. It was sort of like the Oprah show or the View, especially when a rabbi or celebrity is the guest of honor.
Initially, everything was working quite well for ol’ Simon—he had a well-known guest to come visit. He had the community standing around watching him speak with Jesus, which must have really stroke his ego quite a bit. Nothing can go wrong now, he must have thought. But in verse 37 something did go wrong as far as Simon was concerned, you see he didn’t hire any security to keep the “riff-raff” out and all of the sudden a prostitute comes by to crash Simon’s party. Simon’s eyes could have been and should been on Jesus, but he was distracted by an unwanted guest who just ruined his otherwise great and wonderful day.
It was perfectly all right for this woman to be among the crowd in the courtyard. But she got a little too close for Simon’s comfort, since women weren’t invited to these banquets; Simon thought at first that she was a beggar. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that in the eyes of the world this woman was even worst than a beggar. This what Simon saw, at first he saw a beggar—but then it got worst and he saw a sinful woman, and one of the worst kinds, a prostitute, a hooker, a call girl; a woman of the night. She lived a very sinful life and as far as Simon was concerned she had absolutely no business bringing her old dirty self in the midst of men of honor such as himself. Simon saw this street woman approaching Jesus and for the moment that was all he saw and that was enough for him to see.
She sat next to the feet of Jesus with her head uncovered like sinful women do. The perfumed ointment that she poured out on the feet of Jesus –obviously a tool of her trade – there was a lot of it and probably cost her two years wages. Simon saw Jesus allowing her to touch His feet, and his righteous indignation went into overdrive. He spoke within himself here’s a good question, why is it that these Pharisees love to speak within themselves so much? He spoke within himself, “…This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is sinner.” This is Simon the Pharisee saw, actually Simon saw only what he wanted to see. Simon the Pharisee saw what he hoped he would see—something to discredit whom Jesus was. And this is why was never focused on Jesus; they were focused around Jesus. However this woman of the night had an entirely different viewpoint of Jesus Christ.
2. WHAT THE SINFUL WOMAN SAW
In fact, all she saw was Jesus. Everyone else already condemned her because she was seen as a lady of the night who earned a living by breaking the heart of God. I really believe that when you have lived a horrible life people in general are very, very slow to forgive you. I don’t care if it were something you’ve done 20 or 30 years ago and have since repented people in general still remember and will take their sweet time in forgiving you about it.
But somehow this woman knew that with Jesus this was not the case, all she could see was Jesus. She focused her attention on Him and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it—she fell in love with Jesus because knew that through Him just how much she’s been forgiven; just how much she is loved. She went all out for Jesus; she invested some of her money in precious ointment, which she hoped would increase her attractiveness previously. The aroma was once used to lure customers into moral degradation. But now she has found a much better use for it, "she kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment." When she purchased the expensive ointment initially she had no idea how it would ultimately be used. She hoped it would increase her attractiveness, but the meeting with Jesus of Nazareth changed her plans. This is what truly meeting Jesus for the first time will do—it will make you do an about face.
It is obvious to me at least that reasoned with herself that after meeting the Savior of all mankind she would never need
that kind of adornment again the box of perfume was given as evidence of a new commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. When we place our focus on Jesus life becomes much sweeter. When we find our self in these situations-frustrated, discouraged, and angry because of people—we need to focus our eyes once again upon the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice if you, her eyes, her mind, her body and soul were attentive to Jesus and no one else. She didn’t see Simon or the other guest, she didn’t see the people stand around the courtyard—she was beamed in on Jesus. When she came to Jesus, she came the right way. A person that comes to Jesus must come with a broken and contrite heart. This is way Simon had it all wrong, he came full of pride and with self-importance.
He came with self-righteousness, sadly there are those today who are no different than ol’ Simon the Pharisee. Many live self-righteously, even in the Church there are those who feel as if they live and act better than others—they have this sense of superiority. They have a better house, a better profession, a better education, a better income, a better job, and a better life. And because of all of this, they sense no need for forgiveness and repentance. Simon just thought that he was good enough for heaven because of what worldly things he managed to acquire—in his mind it must have meant that God favored him over a person with less. It seriously bothered Simon that Jesus openly accepted this no good sinner woman. Jesus had to set the record straight with Simon.
3. WHAT JESUS CHRIST SAW
Jesus assures Simon that he knows exactly who this woman is and then proceeds to tell him the parable of the two debtors. This parable is only found in the gospel of Luke and it can be assumed that Luke uses it within his text because he is of the wealthiest of the three synoptic authors. Many of the parables found within his book demonstrate the message through some relation to money because it is an aspect that Luke can understand and associate with. The Parable of the Two Debtors could be easily referred to as the parable of the two attitudes as well. The first thing Jesus saw was Simon’s very negative and bias attitude and so He spoke this parable: “ A man loaned money to two people--$5,000 to one and $500 to the other. But neither of them could pay him back, so he kindly forgave both, letting them keep the money! Which do you suppose loved him most after that?” (The Living Bible)
Simon answered, “I suppose who had owed him the most” Jesus responded, “Correct”—now, what just happened here? Jesus saw an opportunity. Jesus always took any opportunity he could to teach his audience something through the events surrounding them. In this incident in Luke, Jesus takes the opportunity to teach Simon, who was a knowledgeable Pharisee about not only forgiveness but also demonstrating gratitude of the forgiveness we are given. The meaning of the parable is quite clear, it illustrates the grace of God in freely forgiving sin (salvation).
When Simon gave his answer, Jesus turned to the woman and asks Simon yet another pertinent question: Do you see this woman? Jesus was trying to get Simon to see what He saw. Do you see this woman? She is a perfect example of what it looks like when someone has been forgiven much and loves much. Jesus concluded His remarks by saying, "Wherefore say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much" (Luke 7:47). Note: The host usually showed respect to his guest by providing water to wash their dusty and sandaled feet. Jesus reminded that the woman showed more hospitality than he because she kissed His feet and poured not just any kind of oil but extremely expensive oil on His feet.
She should Jesus the ultimate respect, she somehow knew unlike Simon that Jesus deserved more than just common respect but He was the Son of God and therefore deserved worshipful respect. As a result spoke her forgiveness before every one there to include Simon—Jesus was the One who had the power to forgive sins. The woman’s sin were many and Jesus by any means did not overlook her sins or the seriousness of her sins. However, it was her sins that brought her to the point of humiliation. Sin and those of us captured by sin for sure is the very reason Jesus came into this world—He came to set the captives free! Prostitution is counted among one the most awful of sins, because it means that a woman or a man is using their gift from God to make a profit instead saving this gift for a potential spouse they sell it like a loaf of bread.
However, Jesus forgave this woman’s sin despite the awfulness of it. I’ve had people come to me and say that they have sinned so much; so badly, and so long until they have come to the conclusion that God will never forgive them. As long as a person feels that God is somehow angry or upset with them, it is as if there are walls about their emotional system, protecting them from further harm, and at the same time, blocking the light (and healing power) of Christ to heal those wounds. Satan wants them to think that for some reason God is angry with them or has given up on them, and is not eager to forgive and have mercy on them, so the idea of God healing their wounds seems impossible—this is why they conclude that they will never be forgiven. It is important that the person realizes that Jesus is eager to forgive, be merciful, and heal those damaged emotions. The very fact that Jesus claimed the right and power to forgive sins shout us all to shout and praise Him forevermore.
It was Jesus Christ who saved this sinful yet repentant woman and made her able to “go in peace”—and that day all she saw was Jesus. If someone should ask her why did you kneel at Jesus’ and pour such expensive ointment over His feet to worship Him. Her answer would most likely be as that of the little six-year girl I told you about earlier—that’s the only way I know. Amen.