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Encounters With Jesus: The Sinful Woman

Have you ever come across someone famous, perhaps an athlete, musician, actor, or politician? Maybe you were on vacation, or at the airport, or in a restaurant. You were able to get an autograph or a photo together, or maybe you just froze up and missed out. How did that encounter change your life?

In what ways were people changed by encountering Jesus? Did they change at all? What was their response? In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus encounters a Pharisee named Simon and a sinful woman. Let’s see how they each respond to Jesus.

Setting the scene (Luke 7:36-40): Jesus is invited into the home of a Pharisee for a meal, and He accepts the invitation. A woman, who is a sinner, comes in, crying, washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and kissing His feet. The Pharisee, Simon, is not moved by the love this woman is showing Jesus. Rather, he expected Jesus to reject the woman. In fact, he questions, in his mind, Jesus’ credentials. Knowing what was in Simon’s heart, Jesus offers to say something. And that is one element of this story we can’t miss: Jesus knows what’s in my heart and what’s in yours.

The Parable (v. 41-43): Two men owed money: 500 denarii and 50 denarii. The debtors could not repay, yet the creditor — out of graciousness — forgave them both and canceled the debt of both men. Jesus is relaying to Simon why this woman would react with such an emotional display of gratitude. She had been forgiven. Her debt was great. The problem with Simon is that he compared himself to the woman. He believed he was better than her because she was full of sin.

Jesus’ response to Simon (v. 44-47): Jesus rebukes Simon because Simon was seeking to do the minimum. He had not washed Jesus’ feet, greeted Him with a kiss or anointed Him with oil. But had not Simon invited Jesus into his home for a meal? What more could Jesus want? Simon wanted Jesus to eat in his home, but he had no understanding that he needed Jesus.

Jesus’ response to the woman (v. 48-50): Of all the people in this story, notice the person who doesn’t speak: the woman. She does not ask for forgiveness, grace or mercy. But Jesus is moved by what the woman is doing. She demonstrates her faith by her actions. She realized she was spiritually bankrupt (Matt. 5:3). She realized she needed Jesus.

Who am I? Am I like Simon, or am I like the woman? Recognizing how much we need to be forgiven leads us to love much. Because our attitudes matter, as does our giving. How we see Jesus will determine what we give to Jesus. The sinful woman gave Jesus her time and heart, and gave up her comfort and pride. She saw herself as a sinner in need of a Savior.

Do you love Jesus much, or do you love Jesus little? Your actions reveal the answer to this question.

Steven Matthews


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