Luke 7:36-39 A Sinner Worships the Lord

On this occasion, Simon the Pharisee had invited the upstart Rabbi into his house for dinner. He did not really want to invite Him, but common courtesy and religious decorum required that one teacher invite another teacher into their house, and Simon was not one to be rude to an up and coming religious peer. So he invited this Jesus to come to his house to dine.

As dinner progressed, Simon was probably bored and fairly indifferent toward his guest. “He doesn’t seem very impressive to me,” he probably thought to himself. “I don’t see what the big deal is about Him. He’s perfectly ordinary as far as I can tell and His teaching is good, but unremarkable. In fact, He doesn’t even seem to know much about the latest rabbinic ideas at all. Yes, very ordinary, indeed.” Simon has made up his mind about this Jesus, and he sees Him as over-rated and forgettable, and certainly the farthest thing from the Messiah.

As Simon is thinking these thoughts and making up his own judgment about this Rabbi, suddenly the proper and reserved atmosphere of the dinner is disturbed, for a “sinner” has somehow entered the house. Certainly uninvited, this immoral woman has discovered that Jesus is nearby and she has grabbed an alabaster vial of perfume, the most expensive thing that she owns, and pushed her way past the dignified guests to take her place at the dusty feet of the Lord of the universe. It is there at Jesus’ feet that this woman will worship Him. For she, like Simon, has made her own judgment about Jesus, but her conclusion is very different from Simon’s. She has concluded that He is the promised Messiah and that He is the sovereign Lord and that He can forgive her sin. And so this woman, this “sinner” worships the Lord Jesus with reckless abandon. In pure humility and adoration she showers affection on Him, utterly unconcerned about herself or her reputation or what other people may think of her. Her only desire is to worship this holy man, Jesus, with her whole being and with everything in her, kissing His feet and wetting His feet with her tears and wiping His feet with her hair. All the while she is pouring expensive perfume out on His dusty feet. Her worship of Jesus is extravagant and unrestrained, and because of her evident love for Jesus and because of her demonstrated faith in Him, Jesus forgives her sins. Yes, by her faith she is washed clean from all her sins and walks away a forgiven woman.

Luke often contrasts the Pharisees and the “sinners” (5:31-32; 7:36-50; 15:1-32; 18:9-14; etc.), showing that the stoic and strict religion of the Pharisees bears no resemblance to the robust, vigorous new life of the true disciple, while also showing that “sinners” often demonstrated saving faith and were more willing to repent than their religious counterparts. Religious people believe they are good enough to deserve entrance into heaven on their own merits, while sinners are eager to hear of a God who is merciful and gracious and who will forgive the sins of everyone who places his faith in Jesus.

And here Luke also shows that where there is a difference in faith toward Jesus, there is also a difference in worship. So here he contrasts the sort of bored and indifferent treatment that Simon the Pharisee gives Jesus with the unrestrained and reckless adoration given to Him by the “sinner.”

Every one of us must reach his or her own conclusion about who Jesus is, and what we conclude will manifest itself in how we relate to Jesus. In other words, my opinion of Jesus will manifest itself in my worship of Jesus. Do I relate to Jesus with unselfconscious joy and heartfelt worship or do I relate to Him with bored indifference, staying detached and distant and cold? If someone looks at how I worship Him, would they conclude that I love Him with all my heart?

O, that I would worship as this woman worshiped, and not remain trapped in my safe and sedate and refined expressions of love for Him! O, that we would worship the Lord Jesus with the reckless abandon of a sinner who has been forgiven of many sins and adore the One who has told us, “Your sins have been forgiven.”   SDG   rmb  4/25/2016

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