Understanding Is Key

Today’s Scripture: Luke 7:18-50; SOAP / Luke 7:47-50

 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:47-50 NET
The Whole Picture
The Alabaster Jar

Have you ever come in on the end of movie and wondered what in the world was going on, or what those closing words meant? It’s like starting a book at the ending paragraph and reading “… and they lived happily ever after”, which leaves you wondering who “they” were and what led up to the “happily ever after.” Today’s focus passage, like much of Scripture, is the happily ever after but the story starts in verse thirty-six, where a Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. The story isn’t so much that Jesus went – but what happened at the dinner. A woman, described only as a sinner, learns that Jesus is going to have dinner at the Pharisees house and she decides not only to go but to take with her a costly jar of “perfumed oil”, which she uses – along with her tears and hair – to anoint the feet of Jesus.

Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil. 

Luke 7:37-38
She’s a Sinner

It’s a beautiful picture and event that Jesus turns into a teachable moment for the Pharisee and for all who were listening then or reading it now. Luke writes that when the Pharisee saw what the woman did, “He said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.‘” Jesus responds to Simon’s thought with a lesson on cancelled debts between two debtors, one who owed much and one who owed little. His point being, that when both debts were freely forgiven, the one whose debt was greater would have more “love” for the creditor. This story is followed by a more pointed lesson, as Jesus uses a comparison of how they had each treated Jesus from the time He entered Simon’s house.


Simon recognized Jesus as a teacher and nothing more. Unlike, Simon Peter, who compared or saw himself in the light of Jesus’ righteousness – Simon, the Pharisee, compares himself to the sinner and sees himself as righteous and worthy of Jesus’ being in his home – but the woman as unworthy to even touch Jesus. When he does compare himself with Jesus, it is to acknowledge that he could see the woman for who she was but Jesus couldn’t.

  • He gave Jesus no water for His feet
  • He gave Jesus no kiss of greeting
  • He did not anoint Jesus’ head with oil
The woman/Sinner

She knew about Jesus but didn’t let her sin hold her back from Him. She went to where He was. She saw Jesus for who He was and she treated Him as such. Her love bearing witness to her faith and the forgiveness she had known.

  • She wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her tears
  • She did not stop kissing Jesus’ feet
  • She anointed Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil
The Meaning

Jesus, then sums up the lesson and the comparison with the revelation that even though the woman’s sins were many – she was completely forgiven; and her love, poured out in tears and oil and the use of her hair, showed her understanding of this. However, while Jesus’ illustration pointed out the Pharisee, who was a strict and religious follower of the law, had sinned less, didn’t understand the depth and debt of his few sins, and placed no value on the forgiveness of the debt or the forgiver.

As the end of our focus passage reveals, those at the table did not truly understand who Jesus was, as they questioned his authority to forgive sins. You may remember this question being asked before in Luke 5:20-21, but it is a vital question we should all ask at some time:

  • Who do I believe Jesus is?
  • AND – Do I believe He can forgive sins, be they ‘big’ or ‘little’, many or few?

Don’t miss that the woman understood exactly who Jesus was and it showed, but it wasn’t the evidence of her love that saved her, rather it was the evidence of her faith – as Jesus tells her, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

Some Applications / Turning facts into action (or knowledge into wisdom)
  • The Apostle Paul says that we are to be honest in our evaluation of ourselves, measuring ourselves by the faith that we have been given – Romans 12:3-5.
  • In other words we are to see (judge/measure) ourselves in the light of Jesus not the light of others – Romans 12:1-2.
  • Seeing our sins, seeking, and finding forgiveness should promote, provoke, and reveal evidence of our love and appreciation for Jesus and what He has done for us

Response to God’s Word

Father, how deep Your love is for us, so vast beyond all measure – that You should forgive one, let alone the multitude of our sins. YET! in love, in kindness, compassion, abundant grace, and mercies that are NEW EVERY MORNING, You have forgiven much – and I am forever grateful! Thank You Father for the reminder to not judge others by their sins and to not think I am better or more righteous than another. May my love bear witness of who You are to me and what You have done for me – and may I respond to You accordingly!

Vital and Revealing Questions
  • Who do you say Jesus is?
  • Do you believe he can forgive your sins – big or little, many or few?
  • What do you believe saved you?
    • Your Faith
    • Strict/religious keeping of the God’s Word
Know These Truths
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