This is the sermon I will be preaching at Hopewell today
Luke 7:36–50 (ESV)
There are several examples in the bible that just give the most beautiful picture of Jesus’ love for us. The woman at the well from John 4 is probably one of my favorites. It was actually the one I intended to preach on this morning. But as I was reading, I read this passage and the beauty of it just struck me, so that I wanted to preach on it. The visual image that this scripture, the woman at the well, and the paralytic being lowered through the roof of Simon Peter’s house, it is the image of us coming to Jesus humbled and needing Him. And through nothing but our faith, He saves us. He forgives our sin.
When you read a passage like this and stop and see the symbolism and how your very own life could be represented here; how Luke could tell this same kind of salvation story about you and your life. It just makes you stop and say, “ Wow!” God really does love me that much! It’s just amazing how God can love the unlovable.
The Woman at the Well
I’m going to go back to the woman at the well for a minute to kind of give us an opportunity to compare these two women and to look and see if we can see us in either of them. The scene in John 4 is of Jesus going to Samaria specifically to meet this woman in need. He went were no self respecting Jew would go because a woman there needed Him. Now she didn’t know she needed Him. She didn’t even realize she was looking for Him, but she was.
Anyway this woman is going to the well in the heat of the day. That tells us a few things. It was common for women to go and gather water from the well, but they did it in the morning and the evening; when it was cool.
They would also use this as a time to socialize. But this woman wouldn’t come when the other women were there, because she was looked down on. She was living with a man that was not her husband. Not only that, but she had had 5 husbands. This is the woman that allowed gossip columns to thrive. She has made mistake after mistake in life and allowed it to lead her down a road that has left her alone, looked down upon, and without hope.
But Jesus had other plans for her. He shows up in a place that has distorted who God was. A place that has mixed who God really is with whom they wanted Him to be. Keep in mind Samaria is the place that the Assyrian king had placed several different peoples and religions in, in an effort to change their culture and keep them from rebelling against him. These people then intermarried and their religions mixed. On top of that, the Jews racism built up a hatred in them for the very people of God and their ancestors. But Jesus goes to this place to meet this woman and tell her about the gift of salvation.
Before we move on I just want to make sure you are seeing the themes here.
- This person was the exact opposite of the type of person religion teaches us that God loves. (Keep in mind I’m see religion as something very separate from Christianity)
- This person was so far in sin the idea of forgiveness would seem impossible.
- This person was lonely, depressed and hopeless.
- This person is the person that Jesus specifically went to meet and save.
- This is the person He died for.
- This person is me
- This person is you
Now let’s get back to Luke. Chapter 7 verse 36.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.
As Jesus went around preaching crowds would follow Him. Now the Pharisees were skeptical of Him, but they realized that many people were following Him and listening to Him. So they would go and listen to Him often asking questions in an effort to trap or trick Him.
The Pharisees were really religious. They put forth the effort to make it appear they really loved God, but they loved the attention and power that their piousness got them. These were the rich and powerful rulers of what we would refer to as the church at that time. Men whose decisions were based on what benefited them, but they would twist the scriptures to make it appear they were humble servants of God. Remember these are the men who felt they should turn God’s temple of worship into a place to rip off his worshippers.
So this Pharisee has invited Jesus into his home for a feast. At a feast in this time period there would be a table and the people would lean with their left elbow on the table and their body stretched out.
The Woman, The Sinner
So Jesus is sitting there and in verse 37-38
a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
A woman who was a sinner heard Jesus was there and she went in with a flask of ointment stood behind him and weeping she wiped His feet with her hair. Kissing and anointing His feet.
I want us to take a minute, close our eyes and picture this. This woman who knew when she walked into this Pharisee’s house was going to be judged. She goes in and as a servant put oil on Jesus feet. Overwhelmed for her love of her saviour and burdened by her sin she weeps. The tears fall at Jesus’ feet. She takes her hair and wipes the tears. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
- She knows this is the saviour.
- She knows He brings salvation.
- She knows He is here to deliver her.
And she weeps.
Is this not a beautiful image?
Have you come and wept at Jesus feet? Have you come and overcome by your love of Jesus wept? Have you cried over your sin?
If not are you putting yourself in the place of this Pharisee?
Are you staring at sinners and saying, “If Jesus was really that great he would know who this unworthy sinner that is begging for mercy is?” Because you are one or the other. You are the judge or the judged. And no matter what you may think you are; to God; you are the judged.
Look at what happens in verse 39
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
This scene makes me think of Luke 18. Are you praying, “God, thank you I am not like other men,” or are you praying, “God be merciful on me a sinner.” 
If you have been a Christian for long it gets easy to become a Pharisee. You start sinning less and you don’t notice your little sins, but you definitely see those enormous sins that everyone else is committing.
When we allow ourselves to become a Pharisee, God has to humble us. We forget we need Him and He has to remind us. Sometimes that isn’t pleasant. But God disciplines those that are His. But when we are the humble sinner; God exalts us. He uses us to show his glory.
As a son one of the greatest things was for my dad to recognize a strength of mine and call me to come and help him. It was an honor for him to use me. To know he was proud that I was his.
As a father I realize how often I fail at letting my children know how proud I am of them. But God is a much better father than any of us can be and He loves to use His children’s strengths. He loves to exalt them and show them off. When we are the humble servant; God will exalt us. God will let us know how proud He is to call us His.
Onto verse 40.
And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Jesus tells Simon a story. There are two men one owes a moneylender about two years wages. The other owes about two months wages. They fall behind and can’t pay. It’s time for the bill collector to come and start taking possessions and placing the debtor in Jail, but instead he comes and forgives the debt of both.
I heard a story from a woman; she said about fifty years ago her husband got injured at work. I think she said he broke a leg. Back then you didn’t have disability and FMLA. When you got hurt and couldn’t work your employer had no need for you. This person was fired for being unable to perform their job. It didn’t take long that they fell behind and now they were in default on their house payment. The woman told the story of seeing the bank president pull up and come to the door.
They knew he was there to evict them and there was nothing they could do. The bank president knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. He told the man he had heard what happened and was very sorry for him. But as he knew they were behind on their payment and it was to a point that action needed to be taken. The bank president told him that he knew they had been good customers and always paid their debt on time. He knew that the man hated that it had come to this. Then the bank president pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to the man. He told him this is the deed to your house. As of this day the debt is settled.
Can you imagine the relief the man felt. He had let his family down. This is back in the time when men had honor and if you couldn’t care for your family, you lost that honor and it bothered you. (Isn’t it amazing how quickly values can fade?) This man was about to lose everything and suddenly his debt is forgiven. Can you imagine how grateful he was?
This is the same story Jesus is telling. One man owes two years worth of salary and it is due today. The other owes two months and it is due today. They are freed from that debt. They both would be grateful but think about it in your shoes. Take your monthly salary; double it and imagine if I told you that you owed me that much and yesterday was your last day to pay. I’m here to collect. Now imagine I say; don’t worry about it I have personally taken care of it.
Now picture the same thing with your yearly salary doubled. You will be grateful either way, but I know I would be even more amazed being forgiven two years salary. What is even more amazing though is this debt is sin. It is the things we have done against God. The things we have done to hurt God. Jesus is not only saying your debt is forgiven but I have personally taken care of it for you.
Simon appears to agree with me in verse 43.
Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 
No matter who you are. No matter what you have done. You can be forgiven. Jesus loves those who are grateful and love Him. I said early it’s easy if you have been a Christian for a while to become a Pharisee, but it’s also easy to forget that Jesus meets you were you are. You don’t get over your addictions and then come to Jesus. You come to Jesus and He removes your addictions. He gives you something else to live for.
Look at this woman. She has come to Jesus and she is so grateful that she has been saved that she is wiping His feet with her hair. The woman at the well completely forgot that everyone in town thought she was a disgrace. She went to those people that looked down upon her and said I have found the savior. Come and meet Him to. Understanding what the gospel means truly changes you. You are no longer living for yourself. You are living for Jesus. Not because you have to, but because you understand who you are compared to who He is and realized that it doesn’t matter. That He saved you and wants you to be His. You are living for Him because He is wonderful.
There is nothing in this world I could ever do to make up for the sacrifice Jesus made for me. Luckily I’m not called to do anything. Look at verse 50 “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
That’s it your faith has saved you. You either look at these two women and say, “Lord have mercy on me”; or you look at them and say, “Thank you Lord I’m not like them.” If you say thank you I am not like them the question becomes, Has you faith saved you.
If your response is Lord have mercy on me then the good news is mercy is freely given. Jesus is here and He is going to meet you wherever you are at. This woman knew he was there to forgive her and she loved Him for that. He is here to forgive you are you ready to love Jesus like that.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Lk 7:36–50. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.
 Luke 18:10-13
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Lk 7:43. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.