Luke 7:36
Then one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.
Sermons
And LoveFriedrich Schleiermacher Luke 7:36
A Bruised ReedH. W. Beecher.Luke 7:36-50
A Great Sinner and a Great SaviourJ. Irons.Luke 7:36-50
An Unfeeling ReligionistTrench.Luke 7:36-50
At His FeetC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 7:36-50
Faith and ForgivenessPhillips Brooks, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
Influence of Christ's LoveLuke 7:36-50
Jesus and the WomanW. M. Taylor, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
Jesus Anointed by a Weeping Penitent in the House of Simon the PhariseeJ. Grierson.Luke 7:36-50
Jesus Attracting SinnersAmerican Sunday School TimesLuke 7:36-50
Jesus in Simon's HouseD. Longwill.Luke 7:36-50
Jesus in the House of the PhariseeM. G. Pearse.Luke 7:36-50
LessonsW. M. Taylor, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
Love Produces RepentanceJ. Hamilton, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
Love the Proof of PardonR.M. Edgar Luke 7:36-50
Loving and ForgivingW. Clarkson Luke 7:36-50
Much Forgiveness, Much LoveA. Bruce, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
Oriental FeastsW. M. Taylor, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
Representative CharactersPreacher's Lantern.Luke 7:36-50
Self-Righteous MurmuringAmerican Sunday School TimesLuke 7:36-50
She is a SinnerArchbishop Thomson.Luke 7:36-50
The Nun and the PenitentS. C. Hall.Luke 7:36-50
The PenitentB. Beddome, M. A.Luke 7:36-50
The Penitent CitizenN. Rogers.Luke 7:36-50
The Pharisee's MistakeJ. Ker, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
The Secret of DevotionC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
The Weeping PenitentJ. Dobie, D. D.Luke 7:36-50
The Woman that was a SinnerC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 7:36-50
The Woman that was a SinnerJ. Burns D. D.Luke 7:36-50


The peculiarity of Oriental customs, together with the earnestness and eagerness of this penitent, will account for her effecting an entrance into the house of this Pharisee, and gaining access to the feet of our Lord. The lessons we gain from this most touching incident are -

I. THAT THERE IS FREE AND FULL FORGIVENESS FOR THE WORST. It is somewhat striking that, although Old Testament Scripture abounds in passages which attest the greatness of God's mercy to the repentant, the Jews of our Lord's time had no place for such in their system or their practice. This could not be from unfamiliarity with the sacred record; it rather arose from ignorance of themselves. They did not acknowledge any sin in their own souls, any shortcoming in their own lives. Simon probably thought that Jesus was putting the debt which represented his obligation (fifty pence) at a high figure. And, thus mistaking themselves, it is not to be wondered at that they took a false view of their neighbours; that they looked upon those who were outwardly bad as hopelessly irrecoverable. But not so the Saviour. By action as much as by language he made it clear that the guiltiest of men and the worst of women might come in penitence and be restored. That is the valuable and lasting significance of his attitude on this occasion. His treatment of this woman, together with his gracious words to her (ver. 48), are to us, as they ever will be, the strong assurance that those whom we most unsparingly condemn and most scrupulously exclude may find mercy at his feet.

II. THAT NOT HER LOVE BUT HER PENITENCE WAS THE GROUND OF HER FORGIVENESS. When Christ said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much," he did not, could not, mean that her love was the ground, but that it was the consequence of her forgiveness. He meant to say, "You can see that she has been forgiven, for you see how she loves, and it is only they who have been forgiven what she has been forgiven that love as she loves. The fulness of her love is therefore the proof (not the ground) of her forgiveness." What led to her forgiveness was her penitence. Those bitter tears she shed (ver. 38) were the tears of a true contrition; they meant a holy hatred of her past sin, and a sincere determination to lead another life; and not being repelled, but accepted, by this Holy and Merciful One, deep and strong gratitude arose in her; and penitence, love, and a new and blessed hope surged and strove together in uncontrollable emotion within her heart. When God shows us our fault, we go at once to the merciful Saviour; trusting in him, we are received and restored; then a pure, deep, lasting love arises in our souls; it is the simple, natural, beautiful outgrowth of penitence and faith.

III. THAT THE SENSE OF GOD'S GRACE TO US WILL DETERMINE THE FULNESS OF OUR AFFECTION TOWARD HIM. "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." If we have a very imperfect sense of our guilt, and therefore of God's mercy to us, our response in gratitude and love will be far below what it should be. It is, therefore, of the gravest importance that we should know and feel our own faultiness in the sight of God. For clearly it is not the magnitude of our past sin, but the fulness of our sense of guilt, which determines the measure of our feeling in the matter of gratitude and love.

1. It is for this that we must look. We shall find it as we dwell on the greatness of God's goodness toward us in his providence and his grace; in the poverty and feebleness of our filial return to him for all his love and care and kindness toward us; in the fact that he has been requiring purity of thought and rectitude of soul and sincerity of motive, as well as propriety of word and integrity of deed.

2. For this also we must pray; asking for that enlightening Spirit who will show us our true selves, and fill us with a due sense of our great unworthiness and our manifold transgressions. - C.









And, behold, a woman in the city which was a sinner.
I. IT IS TO THIS INDIVIDUAL THAT OUR ATTENTION IS, IN THE FIRST PLACE, TO BE DIRECTED. Her name is not given, but only her character. This poor sinner had very different reasons from those of the Pharisee for wishing to see Jesus. The recent miracle of restoring to life the widow of Nain's son, had produced, in regard to its author, a deep and general impression. "There came," we are told, "a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, that a great prophet is risen up among us, and that God hath visited His people. And this rumour of Him went forth throughout all Judaea." Simon, among others, wished to know something more perfectly concerning Him. The motives of the poor sinner were of a far higher and more interesting nature. She also had heard the fame of Him who had raised the dead, and, instead of merely musing whether He was a prophet, she seems to have been fully persuaded that this was the case; nay, that He was the Great Prophet — the promised Messiah — the Saviour of sinners. Yet all that she had heard of Him only made her wish to hear more. She had already tasted of the fountain of living waters; and the language of her soul was, "Let me drink again — let me drink abundantly."

1. She evinced her humility and her godly sorrow. Nor did her humility proceed only from the profound sense which she had of His surpassing excellence and dignity. It proceeded partly from the feeling of her own past guilt and exceeding unworthiness. Her humility, in other words, was closely associated with her deep and godly sorrow.

2. But, by her conduct in the guest-chamber, the penitent also evinced her gratitude and affection. Great as were her modesty and humility, she did not permit these feelings to keep her back, even in the presence of uncharitable observers, from expressing her unspeakable obligations and ardent attachment to Jesus. They were tears of affection not less than of sorrow. They were what she could neither repress nor conceal.

3. The penitent here evinced her profound sense of the veneration and homage that were due to Christ. She came for the express purpose of anointing Him — not only of acknowledging her personal obligations and attachment to Him, but of owning and honouring Him as the Messiah or Anointed One. lie was the object of her faith not less than of her love.

II. The next subject, then, which now solicits our attention, IS THE WAY IN WHICH OUR LORD MET THE INWARD SURMISES AND COMPLAINTS OF THE "PHARISEE, AND IN WHICH HE NOT ONLY VINDICATED THE CONDUCT OF THE WEEPING PENITENT, BUT SET IT FORTH AS AN HONOURABLE CONTRAST TO THE CONDUCT OF THE PHARISEE HIMSELF.

(J. Grierson.)

In the conduct of this penitent we may observe the following particulars:

1. Her deep humility — "She stood at the feet of Jesus." Mary, the sister of Martha, sat at His feet, which might signify the calm, settled, and composed state of her mind. But this woman stood; a posture which denotes humility, reverence, and fear. She stood like a servant in waiting, ready to put in practice what she had designed for His honour.

2. Observe the holy shame of this penitent — "She stood at Jesus' feet behind Him." Such was the beauty of His holiness that she was ashamed, and such the glory of His majesty that she was afraid to look Him in the face.

3. Her unfeigned sorrow "She stood behind Him weeping." Those eyes, which had been the inlets of temptation and sin, now become the outlets of godly sorrow.

4. Her sorrow was not only sincere, but abundant — "She stood weeping, and washed His feet with tears." It was not a sudden gust, but a continual flow.

5. Witness the ardour of her love to Christ — "She kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment." A pardoned sinner will think no expense too great whereby he may honour Christ or testify his love to Him.

6. Her contempt of the world. She did not mind the things of the world any more than the men of the world. The box of precious ointment was of little value to one who had found the pearl of great price.

7. Her gratitude and joy. All her grief was mingled with love and thankfulness; her tears were tears of joy for sin pardoned, as well as of sorrow for sin committed. Her ointment became a thank-offering to her Saviour. From this instructive history we may learn that the displays of Divine mercy have always a practical tendency.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

1. First, THE CHARACTER OF THE WOMAN. Everything in Scripture is addressed to character. Oh, how true is that statement of the Apostle Paul, when he declared that "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Witness the record given in the Word of God of a variety of prominent characters who have been the recipients of the grace of God. Go back to old father Abraham; an idolator amongst the Chaldeans, yet the grace of God found him, add brought him out, and distinguished him. Mark the character of Jacob. I cannot admire it, except in that which grace did for him. He was a deceitful, supplanting young man; and who would not censure him for the conduct he pursued in obtaining the blessing? Beloved, I wish you to be brought to a deep consciousness that sinnership belongs to us, as well as to the woman of the city, and that our sinnership is such that nothing but the blood of Christ can meet our condition before God. Mark yet further. This poor woman was evidently overwhelmed with the consciousness of her sinnership. It is not simply a cold admission of the fact, but compunction is felt, distress of soul realized, a broken and a contrite heart bestowed, an overwhelming consciousness that you deserve nothing but eternal wrath.

II. Now let us glance at THE OPPORTUNITY WHICH THE POOR WOMAN HAD OF COMING TO JESUS. There is something interesting in the fact that it should have been in a Pharisee's house. Think for a moment, here, of the display of discriminating grace. Simon might look upon her to hate, but Jesus looked upon her to manifest that the distinguishing grace which He is accustomed to exercise in the most sovereign manner had reached her heart; and thus, in Simon's own house, the discriminating grace of God was exhibited to take the sinner and to leave the Pharisee. Moreover, this poor woman must have been informed where Jesus was, and what He was as the sinner's Friend; and this is the very pith of the message of the gospel of Christ. Our great business, from Sabbath to Sabbath, and from week to week, is to publish the name and the fame of the sinner's Friend. There must have been after all, an influence put forth upon this poor woman s soul to bring her to the feet of Jesus, or she would never have come there.

III. WE NOW COME TO THE MANIFESTATION OF FEELING IN THIS POOR WOMAN. What are the feelings that she must have been the subject of? The first I shall mention is the feeling of necessity, and the second is that of a new nature's affection for what she had discovered. She loved much. This feeling of necessity not only brings the sinner to Jesus under Divine power and might, but constrains the sinner to put forth the emotion which is described of this woman — weeping. I do act so much regard the literal effusion of water from the bodily eyes as I do the weeping of the soul — the compunction of the spirit; though, with persons who are naturally sensitive, this very compunction will flow forth in external tears, but in other constitutions not so visibly. I am very much afraid that many who pass for Christians have glided into their Christianity in a very smooth and easy manner; and I as strongly fear that they will glide out of it as easily, and perish for ever. The best repentance which is known on earth is that which flows from Calvary, from atoning blood, from pardoning love in the contrite soul. What knowest thou, my hearers, of these feelings? Many persons are greatly frightened about going to hell, and sometimes, perhaps, grieve lest they should do so.

IV. Let us now pass on to say A FEW WORDS CONCERNING THIS POOR WOMAN'S EXPECTATIONS. No doubt they were great. They are not recorded, but I should think we might sum them up in two particulars. She expected to eye the glories of His person, and gaze upon Him with delight; and she expected, also, to receive absolution from Him, and she got both. Now, if you are brought to the feet of Jesus, I would have you encourage this two-fold expectation. The first is, to eye the personal and official glories of Christ. Think, for a moment, of the privilege of gazing by faith upon Him, who is declared to be "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person." "Behold Me," is His cry. Look off from everything else to gaze upon the precious Christ of God, and know more and more of Him; yea, till ye "know even as ye are known." This poor woman expected, also, to receive absolution from the Saviour, and she obtained it. A word relative to the difference between the declaration of the doctrine of absolution, and the reception of it from Christ by the poor sinner. They are two different things. Unto Simon the Lord Jesus Christ said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven." But that would not have satisfied her if she had stopped there.

(J. Irons.)

Probably when Simon invited our Saviour to dine there were a great many that wondered why. Simon was, I suppose, a very good-natured fellow, evidently shallow, but easily excited and easily forgetting it. He was a slate, on which you could write that which you could easily rub out. Everybody was running after the Saviour, and Simon was one of those men that liked to catch lions and parade them in his house. He was, therefore, patronizing Christ. Still he did it cautiously. He professed simply to be His gracious entertainer. Christ went. It is of more importance perhaps to ask, "Why did He go there? " Well, He went, because He was neither an ascetic nor a rigorous moralist, after the modern sense of the term. He never was afraid of soiling Himself. He carried in Him the light that dispels darkness. Nor do I suppose He ever once thought, " What will folks say? Is it best for Me to go?" While they were reclining there was an uninvited guest that came in, "And behold!" — an exclamation, to arrest attention — "a woman which was a sinner." Her outward life had been bad. But there was a woman within the woman, a soul hidden within the body. How knew she of Christ? She had heard Him doubtless. She had beheld His face and His eye of mercy, and the gentleness with which He treated children and the poor, and she had said within herself, "If there is a good man living, that man is good." So, hearing that He was gone to dine with the Pharisee, she determined to go and see Him. What kind of a teacher must that man have been who could inspire in a harlot's bosom those conceptions of human and Divine greatness as manifested in Christ, and who could also draw towards Him from out all the lines of wickedness a creature like unto this woman? Christ was a prophet, and more than a prophet. He saw not only the woman, but also the man; her depth and power, his shallowness and feebleness. He then preaches a short sermon to Simon. No words had passed, but He answers Simon's thought. Let us believe, with all true charity, that from the hour of her resurrection she followed the footsteps of her new-found Master, and that she dwells with Him in the purity and the bliss of immortality. Now translate from the wonderful scene some lessons.

1. Your own duty. Separate not yourselves from those that have gone wrong.

2. Have faith to believe that under bad appearances there yet lurks and there yet sighs a soul, a moral conscience.

3. Never forget that when a man has gone wrong he can go right. God is on the side of every man that, having stumbled and fallen, gathers himself together and gets up; and, though his garments may for a long time be soiled, he is on his feet again, and prepared to resist again. Do not forget the all-loving heart of God.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE FORBEARANCE AND CONDESCENSION OF CHRIST.

II. LOVE IS IN PROPORTION TO THE GREATNESS OF THE BENEFITS FELT TO BE RECEIVED.

III. From Simon's mistake learn THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL PRIDE.

1. Spiritual pride blinded his eyes as to himself.

2. It misled him in estimating the character of this woman.

3. It prevented him understanding Christ.

(D. Longwill.)

The woman had a definite purpose in coming to the house of Simon. She came, not to be a mere spectator, but to anoint her benefactor with a box of precious ointment. Her benefactor we must assume Jesus to have been, though we know nothing of the previous relations. Conduct so unusual could not fail to create a general sensation in the guest-chamber, and especially to arrest the astonished attention of the host. Happily for the object of his harsh judgment, there was One present who could divine the real situation. One brief, simple parable serves at once to apologize for the accused, and to bring a counter-charge against the accuser. The parable was spoken with a threefold aim.

I. TO DEPEND THE CONDUCT OF THE WOMAN BY SUGGESTING THE POINTS OF VIEW UNDER WHICH IT OUGHT TO BE REGARDED.

II. TO IMPUGN THE CONDUCT OF THE PHARISEE.

III. To DEFEND THE CONDUCT OF JESUS HIMSELF IN ACCEPTING THE HOMAGE RENDERED.

(A. Bruce, D. D.)

1. Let sinners of every name and degree be encouraged by this narrative to go at once to Christ.

2. If we would be successful in raising the fallen, and reclaiming the abandoned, we must be willing to touch them, and to be touched by them.

3. If we wish to love God much, we must think much of what we owe to Him.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

1. Does it not seem as if the Pharisee, if he had had a larger heart, would have gained something of the experience of the woman's sin without entrance into the sin in the midst of which she had lived, and so would have known the richness of love with which she came to the Saviour?

2. The Pharisee has precisely the same reason for thanking God for having been saved from falling into sin that any vilest sinner has for thanking God when he has been dragged out of sin after falling into it.

3. Remember(1) that you have the right and the power to rescue your brother-man, and share in the enthusiastic and ecstatic gratitude of the rescued soul;(2) that every soul has sin enough in it to warrant a consecration of the whole life to the God who has rescued the soul, even from that degree of sin in which it has lived;(3) that the sense of preservation may lay as deep a hold upon our affections as the sense of rescue.

(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

I. Love for the Saviour brought her into His PRESENCES.

II. HUMILITY for her sin brought her to His FEET.

III. Sorrow for her sin made her WEEP AT HIS FEET.

IV. GRATITUDE for sin forgiven led her to WASH AND ANOINT HIS FEET.

(J. Dobie, D. D.)

The guests are in their places, not sitting cross-legged on the floor, like modern Orientals, nor seated on chairs, as with ourselves; but reclining, after the old Roman fashion, on couches, the head being towards the table, and the feet, unsandalled, stretched out behind, while the body rested on the left side and elbow. Around the walls of the room sit some of the inhabitants of the place who have heard of the feast, and who have come in to see the banquet, and to listen to the conversation. In one of the earliest, and still one of the best, of the books of Eastern travel, being the report of the party of which Andrew Bonar and Robert McCheyne were members, we find the following statement: — "At dinner, at the Consul's house at Damietta, we were much interested in observing a custom of the country. In the room where we were received, besides the divan on which we sat, there were seats all round the walls. Many came in and took their places on these side seats uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them."

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

There was an unrecorded history behind this manifestation. The two must have met before. This was not the first time she had seen the Lord. On some previous occasion virtue had gone out of Him to her, and had awakened new hope within her. She saw the possibility of being forgiven, even for her life of sin. She felt uprising within her the determination to become a pure and noble woman. Nay, she had the persuasion that she was already pardoned and accepted by God; and so, unmoved by all surrounding discouragements, conscious of nothing but that He was there to whom she owed her new-born blessedness, she eagerly threw herself upon His feet, and took this method of telling Him "all that was in her heart." She came to Him, not as a penitent seeking pardon, but as a sinner already forgiven; and so that which looked like extravagance to others was perfectly natural in her, and thoroughly acceptable to Him. It was but the "return and repercussion" of that love which He had already shown to her. Her tears were, as Luther calls them, ', heart-water"; they were the distillation of her gratitude. She had not come indeed to weep; she had come designing to use the ointment only. But her tears had, as it were, stolen a march upon her; they had come unbidden and unexpected, and had rather interfered with the fulfilment of her purpose. But, in order that her original intention might be thoroughly carried out, she wiped them from His feet with her flowing tresses, and then poured over Him the precious ointment, whose odour filled the house.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. IT IS A BECOMING POSTURE.

1. As He is Divine, let us pay Him lowliest reverence.

2. As we are sinful, let us make humble confession.

3. As He is Lord, let us make full submission:

4. As He is All in All, let us manifest immovable dependence.

5. As He is infinitely wise, let us wait His appointed time. The best are at His feet, joyfully bowing before Him. The worst must come there whether they will or no.

II. IT IS A HELPFUL POSTURE —

1. For a weeping penitent (Luke 7:38).

2. For a resting convert (Luke 8:35).

3. For a pleading intercessor (Luke 8:41).

4. For a willing learner (Luke 10:39).

5. For a grateful worshipper (Luke 17:16).

6. For a saint beholding his Lord's glory (Revelation 1:17).

III. IT IS A SAFE POSTURE.

1. Jesus will not refuse us that position, for it is one which we ought to occupy.

2. Jesus will not spurn the humbly submissive, who in self-despair cast themselves before Him.

3. Jesus will not suffer any to harm those who seek refuge at His feet.

4. Jesus will not deny us the eternal privilege of abiding there. Let this be our continual posture — sorrowing or rejoicing, hoping or fearing, suffering or working, teaching or learning, in secret or in public, in life and in death.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. AS IT REGARDED CHRIST.

1. He could not read Christ's nature, and undervalued it.

2. In regard to Christ, he mistook also His way of rescuing from sin.

II. AS IT REGARDED THE WOMAN.

1. The Pharisee thought that as a sinner she was to be despised.

2. He did not see that into her heart a new life had entered.

III. As IT REGARDED HIMSELF.

1. The Pharisee showed that he did not know his own heart.

2. He did not see that in condemning this woman he was rejecting the salvation of Christ.

IV. SOME TRUTHS WHICH WE MAY LEARN FROM THE PHARISEE'S MISTAKE.

1. Those who profess religion should be careful how they give a false view of it by uncharitable judgments and assumptions of superiority.

2. On the other side, we must remind those who profess to be seeking religion that they are bound to form their judgment of it from its Author.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

This is the Pharisee's compendious trial and verdict and sentence of one in whose soul, it seems, the sore but wholesome struggle of repentance was actively going on. "She is a sinner"; accursed from God she is, and must continue. There is abomination in her touch, and falsehood in her tears. All that a prophet can do for her is to pass her by on the other side. Thus reasoned a sincere, respectable man among the Jews; not a monster of intolerance; Dot a brutal scorner of the suffering; but a respectable Jew of the most exact sect among the Jews, speaking in the interests of society, and echoing an acknowledged social principle. And thus reason many sincere and worthy men amongst ourselves almost two thousand years after the Lord has taught lessons of another spirit and a more loving wisdom. "She is a sinner." One word suffices to classify all that have gone astray; the Pharisee makes no inquiries, draws no distinctions, indulges no hopes. It is all one to him whether a depraved will or a giddy vanity made her a willing victim, or the sheer presence of starvation drove her to ruin. It is all one whether, every day when she rises and every night when she lies down she hates herself, and in bitter anguish compares the thing she is with what she was; or acquiesces in her own destruction, and does all she can to hasten the darkness that is settling down upon her moral nature, and to welcome the perfect night. We pass our hasty sentence upon thousands and tens of thousands of erring beings, not considering for a moment how many among them are devoured by an unspeakable remorse; how many are capable of sorrow, though they stave it off; hew few, comparatively, are the hopeless children of perdition, lost in this world and the world to come. Now there are two facts which may well make us pause ere we adopt the hard and thoughtless rule of society in dealing with guilt; and they are facts, not surmises.

1. Society is, in a large measure, responsible for the very sins which it so readily condemns and casts out.

2. That there is hardly any escape for those who have once entered the path of sin. "She is a sinner"; no one will take her into a blameless home to employ her; no one will visit her and give her counsel. Thus does one step in sin utterly destroy one whom God created to serve and praise Him. God bids the sinner turn from evil ways, and we will give her no chance of turning.

(Archbishop Thomson.)

The woman represents humanity, or the soul of human nature; Simon, the world, or worldly wisdom; Christ, Divinity, or the Divine purposes of good to usward. Simon is an incarnation of what St. Paul calls the beggarly elements; Christ of spirituality; the woman of sin.

(Preacher's Lantern.)

I. We find here an illustration of THE RECOGNIZED VALUE OF ALL ACTS OF SIMPLE-HEARTED DEVOTION TO CHRIST. In the act of justification God is entirely sovereign, and man is entirely passive; but in the work of sanctification which succeeds it we are permitted to co-operate with the Holy Spirit. And all along in our career, as the forgiven children of the Highest, we are welcomed in the ministries of affection which evidence our appreciation of Divine grace. The early reformers had no confusion in regard to this point. Their notion as to the proper blending of faith and works may be seen in the two seals which Martin Luther used indiscriminately in his correspondence. On one was cut his family coat-of-arms — two hammers laid crosswise, with a blunt head and a sharp head, his father's tools at the time when he was a miner; and Martin used often, in connection with this, to quote the saying of Achilles: "Let others have wealth who will; my portion is work." Upon the second seal was cut the device of a heart, with wings on each side of it spread out as if soaring, and underneath this was the Latin motto: "Petimus astra."

II. Our second lesson is concerning THE ACTIVE PRINCIPLE ON WHICH ZEAL PROCEEDS, AND FROM WHICH COMES ITS VALUE.

1. Many men feel the superior power and dignity of a Christian life, and so seek something like conformity to its maxims. They move on in a correct living of outward morality, because it brings a reputation with others and satisfaction in their own minds: they are wont to speak pleasantly of themselves as " outsiders, with a great respect for religion, you know I " No value whatever in this. The instincts of an honest heart make us claim, as the very first characteristic of friendship, its disinterestedness. We "will not suffer ourselves to be used or patronized; can we suppose God will endure it?

2. Another motive, which gives to many a life a sort of religious cast, is found in conscientiousness. We are all by nature devout; something draws us, and keeps drawing, to God; we grow uneasy under its tension. We seek a kind of temporary relief by yielding a little, without at all intending to yield the whole; just as the foolish fish is said to run up towards the fisherman for a moment, to ease off the stress of the hook, and yet without purposing ever to leave the water. Such a service of God we call "duty." Now there is no value either in the surrender we make, or in the acceptance we profess. When we give up sin from mere pressure of pain, we are apt to choose those which will be missed the least, and have grown the weariest in indulgence. Nor is our obedience any better; we go on with a round of duty-doing as senseless as the whirling of a Japanese praying-machine in the market-place. Our motive is the refinement of selfishness, for we work like a galley-slave who is afraid of the lash. Because we mean to cheat on the "principal" by and by, we scrupulously keep paying the regular "interest" now. And all this is mere hypocrisy.

3. The true motive for all Christian zeal is found in love — simple, honest affection for Christ as the Lord of grace and glory. A good deed is measured by the temper and feeling which underlies it.

III. THE RECOLLECTION BY WHICH TRUE ZEAL IS STIMULATED. "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." The one great matter of notice here is that alabaster box. It becomes the symbol of a heart full of experience, which no possible language could describe. It would have been more properly named a phial or a jar. It was one of those small vessels, wont to be cherished in that day by vain and silly women, containing rare and curiously-perfumed cosmetics, used by the fastidious Orientals for a meretricious and luxurious toilet. Two things, therefore, were exhibited in the act of this woman — penitence and faith.

1. Her penitence appears in the surrender of the unguent; it was one of the tools of her trade. By this act she avowed her definite and final relinquishment of that old, gay life she had been living.

2. Observe, also, the faith in this action. She ventured much when she came to that feast unbidden. If Jesus should rebuke her, she would be excluded with contumely and contempt. But she trusted Him with all her heart; she believed in her forgiveness in the very moment of asking for it. So she offered her Saviour the highest of all she had. She gave Jesus her last glory; He gave her His full pardon of her sins as His reward and benediction in return.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Then one of the Pharisees desired that Jesus would eat bread with them; and as the crowd falls back they go on their way together to this Pharisee's house. And now He lies reclining on the couch. LET US TURN TO LOOK AT THE HOST. He has given Christ a very heartless welcome, and a very scanty entertainment. The commonest courtesies of life were wanting. There was no hint of enthusiasm, no whisper of affection; no token of any loving regard. Not even was it a stately formality — all was as empty as it was cold. Yet do not put down this man as a hypocrite or a knave. Not at all. We overdo the character of the Pharisee, and so we destroy it altogether. This man is just a fair type of a great many religious people to-day — people who are quite willing to extend a kind of patronage to the claims of Jesus Christ, but who never put themselves much out of the way for Him. They give their heart and energy to their business — for that no care, no toil, nothing is grudged. They give their enthusiasm to politics, if they live in the city; if they live in the country they share it with their horses and guns. They keep their money for themselves. For religion they are willing to expend an occasional hour on Sunday, and a .vet more occasional subscription. Alas! that our Blessed Redeemer, the King of Heaven, should find still so cold a welcome and so scanty an entertainment in many a house to-day! With such people there may be a degree of orthodoxy on which they pride them. selves, but what is much more rigid and essential is a certain refinement of taste, which is really the only religion of many; there is, too, a certain standard of morality, less important, however, than the standard of taste; and for everybody who does not come up to their standard either of manners or morals, there is a stoning to death with hard judgments — and an equal condemnation for those who venture to go beyond their standard. Look at it. It is religion without any love to God and without any love to man. It is religion without any deep sense of indebtedness, and without any glad devotion. There it is: religion without any deep sense of sin, and so without any glad sense of forgiveness; religion without any need, and so without riches; religion without a Saviour, and so without any love. This man knew of a law which demanded a certain degree of goodness: that was exactly the goodness which he himself lived up to. And good people like himself, of course, should go to heaven for ever and ever. And bad people like this woman should go — elsewhere; and he went on his way quite comfortable and contented with an arrangement altogether so advantageous to himself. Look at this man carefully; and see in him a peril that besets all of us who are brought up in religious forms and observances. It is religion without the Holy Spirit of God, who is come to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come; to make these the great and awful realities, by which the world is tested and all things are esteemed, for without that Holy Spirit who is come to shed the love of God abroad in the heart, God is but a name; religion is but a form; sin is but a notion. Now LET US TURN TO THE UNINVITED VISITOR, The Eastern custom of hospitality meant very literally "open house." The curiosity with which the people followed Jesus everywhere would be sure to follow Him here, and though He has entered into the house He cannot be hid. And yet of all heresies the most persistent and most deadly is that of which the Church makes but little ado. It is this — that Jesus Christ is come into the world to save good people who don't think they need any saving; and if real sinners come to Him — dreadful sinners: black sinners — it is a presumption and an intrusion which good people cannot tolerate. SEE HERE THE RIGHT CHARACTER, IN THE RIGHT PLACE, SEEKING THE RIGHT THING, IN THE RIGHT WAY. A sinner at the feet of Jesus — here is a sight that all heaven shall come forth to rejoice over; and they shall go back to celebrate it in the sweetest music that even angels ever sang. "She is a sinner" — it is the only certificate of character that Jesus wanted. The only thing for which He came, the only work for which He had qualified Himself, had to do with sinners. "She is ignorant," said Simon, within himself. "The people that knoweth not the law is accursed. What does this wretched woman understand of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven? What appreciation can she have of its lofty promises and high glory?" She knew that she was a sinner and in that she knew more than Simon knew; and knew all that she needed to know. A sinner at His feet. Oh, blessed hiding-place! A refuge sure and safe, in His shadow, within reach of that Hand, there, where all the heart may pour forth its sorrow and the story of its sin, where all His love may look its benediction, and may touch with healing power. Coming in the right way. She just cast herself upon His love and help. Having no hope but in Him, feeling that the torrents swept and surged about her, but that Hand held her and was lifting her up, and should set her feet upon the rock. She came unto Him and found the rest that she sought. The hold of the past was loosed and broken; its record was blotted out and forgotten. The touch of that gracious Hand healed the broken heart. His words fell like the very music of heaven upon her soul. "Thy sins are forgiven thee." And there came a new life, fresh, sweet, pure, beautiful, like the life of a little child. This is Jesus, our Saviour, who speaks to us this day. "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.'" But the story is not finished yet. There with the sobbing woman down at His feet, with that graciousHand laid on the bent head — that Hand whose touch healed the broken heart — Jesus became her Advocate and Defender. The silence was broken as Jesus looked up and said, "Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee." With what rich blessing must every word have fallen upon her — what gentle courtesy and tender grace was His!

(M. G. Pearse.)

Here are two silver bells, let us ring them; their notes are heavenly — O for ears to hear their rich, clear melody! The first note is " grace," and the second tone is "love."

I. GRACE, the most costly of spikenard: this story literally drips with it, like those Oriental trees which bleed perfume.

1. First, grace is here glorified in its object. She was "a sinner" — a sinner not in the flippant, unmeaning, every-day sense of the term, but a sinner in the blacker, filthier, and more obnoxious sense. Grace has pitched upon the most unlikely cases in order to show itself to be grace; it has found a dwelling-place for itself in the most unworthy heart, that its freeness might be the better seen.

2. Grace is greatly magnified in its fruits. Who would have thought that a woman who had yielded her members to be servants of unrighteousness, to her shame and confusion, should have now become, what if I call her a maid of honour to the King of kings? — one of Christ's most favoured servitors? This woman, apart from grace, had remained black and defiled still to her dying day, but the grace of God wrought a wondrous transformation, removing the impudence of her face, the flattery from her lips, the finery from her dress, and the lust from her heart. Eyes which were full of adultery, were now founts of repentance; lips which were doors of lascivious speech, now yield holy kisses — the profligate was a penitent, the castaway a new creature. All the actions which are attributed to this woman illustrate the transforming power of Divine grace. Note the woman's humility. She had once possessed a brazen face, and knew no bashfulness, but now she stands behind the Saviour.

3. I would have you remark, in the third place, that grace is seen by attentive eyes in our Lord's acceptance of what this chosen vessel had to bring. Jesus knew her sin. Oh, that Jesus should ever accept anything of me, that He should be willing to accept my tears, willing to receive my prayers and my praises!

4. Further, grace is displayed in this narrative when you see our Lord Jesus Christ become the defender of the penitent. Everywhere grace is the object of human cavil: men snap at it like evening wolves. Some object to grace in its perpetuity, they struggle against persevering grace; but others, like this Simon, struggle against the bounty of grace.

5. Once more, my brethren, the grace of God is seen in this narrative in the bestowal of yet richer favours. Great grace saved her, rich grace encouraged her, unbounded grace gave her a Divine assurance of forgiveness. "Go in peace."

II. Love.

1. Its source. There is no such thing as mere natural love to God. The only true love which can burn in the human breast towards the Lord, is that which the Holy Ghost Himself kindles.

2. Its secondary cause is faith. The fiftieth verse tells us, "Thy faith hath saved thee." Our souls do not begin with loving Christ, but the first lesson is to trust. Many penitents attempt this difficult task; they aspire to reach the stair-head without treading the steps; they would needs be at the pinnacle of the temple before they have crossed the threshold. Grace is the source of love, but faith is the agent by which love is brought to us.

3. The food of love is a sense of sin, and a grateful sense of forgiveness. The service this woman rendered to our Lord was perfectly voluntary. No one suggested it, much less pressed it upon her. Her service to Jesus was personal. She did it all herself, and all to Him. Do you notice how many times the pronoun occurs in our text? " She stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment." She served Christ Himself. Forgetfulness of the personality of Christ takes away the very vitality of our religion. How much better will you teach, this afternoon, in your Sabbath-school class, if you teach your children for Christ! The woman's service showed her love in that it was fervent. There was so much affection in it — nothing conventional; no following chilly propriety, no hesitating inquiry for precedents. Why did she kiss His feet? Was it not a superfluity? O for more of this guileless piety, which hurls decorum and regulation to the winds. This woman's love is a lesson to us in the opportunity which she seized.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PERSON DESCRIBED.

1. She was a sinner. This applies to all.

2. A notorious sinner.

3. A mourning and deeply penitent sinner.

II. THE COURSE WHICH SHE ADOPTED.

1. Strong desires after the Saviour.

2. Deep humility and lowliness of mind.

3. Deep contrition.

4. True and hearty affection to Christ.

5. Liberality and devotedness to Christ.

6. An after-life worthy of the profession she now made. She attended Christ in many of His journeys, &c.

III. THE PUBLIC TESTAMENT SHE RECEIVED. She had honoured Jesus; and He now honours her, by testifying of her.

1. He testified to her forgiveness.

2. He testified to her faith as the instrumental cause.

3. He testified to the greatness of her love.

4. He testified to His approval and acceptance of her.Application. Learn:

1. The condescension of Christ.

2. The riches of His grace.

3. His power and willingness to save the chief of sinners.

4. The true way of coming to Christ.

5. The effects of true love to Him.

(J. Burns D. D.)

1. Her humility. She takes her stand at the feet of Christ, esteeming the lowest place too good for her, so vile an abject,

2. Bashfulness and shame. She cloth not boldly face Christ, but gets behind Him; being conscious of her sins, which thus placed her deservedly.

3. Sorrow. The rock is now turned into a water-pool, and the flint into a river of waters: she weeps, and in such abundance, as that she washeth Christ's feet with those streams of penitence.

4. Revenge. That hair which she had so often gently combed, and cunningly broidered against the glass, and then spread forth as a net to catch her amorous companions withal, she now employs in the wiping those feet, which she had with her tears washed.

5. Love; manifested in kissing Christ's feet, acknowledging thereby that she tasted of the comfort that was in Him. O how gladly will one who hath escaped drowning kiss the shore!

6. Bounty. She pours a precious and costly ointment upon those feet she had thus washed and kissed. Every way she approved herself a perfect penitent. And therefore no marvel (the great prize coming) if the trumpets sound; the news of this rare convert is proclaimed with an "Ecce, Behold a woman."

(N. Rogers.)

American Sunday School Times.
Travelling along a country road in a hot summer's day, you may have noticed the people before you turn aside at a certain point, and gather around something that was yet hidden from you. You knew at once that it was a clear, cold spring that drew them all together there. Each of them wanted something which that spring could supply. Or you have seen iron filings leap up and cling to the poles of a magnet when it was brought near to them. The attraction of the magnet drew them to itself. So sinners were drawn to Jesus; they felt that in Him was all fulness, and that He could supply their need.

(American Sunday School Times.)

From this incident we see what it is that produces true repentance. If you were going out into the open air on a frosty day, and were taking a lump of ice, you might pound it with a pestle, but it would still continue ice. You might break it into ten thousand atoms, but so long as you continue in that wintry atmosphere, every fragment, however small, will still be frozen. But come within. Bring in the ice beside your own bright and blazing fire, and soon in that genial glow "the waters flow." A man may try to make himself contrite; he may search out his sins and set them before him, and dwell on all their enormity, and still feel no true repentance. Though pounded with penances in the mortar of fasts and macerations, his heart continues hard and icy still. And as long as you keep in that legal atmosphere it cannot thaw. There may be elaborate confession, a got-up sort of penitence, a voluntary humility, but there is no godly sorrow. But come to Jesus with His words of grace and truth. From the cold winter night of the ascetic, come into the summer of the Great Evangelist. Let that flinty frozen spirit bask a little in the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Listen for a little to those words which melted this sinner into a penitent — which broke her alabaster box and brimmed over in tears of ecstatic sorrow and self-condemning devotion: for, finding that you too have much forgiven, you also will love much.

(J. Hamilton, D. D.)

American Sunday School Times.
When the prodigal son returned home, that respectable elder brother of his was the only one who begrudged his welcome. So this punctilious Pharisee murmured at the woman who anointed Jesus' feet. It is told of a noted geologist that once, when travelling over a new district, he hired an ignorant countryman to carry the specimens of the different rocks which he had collected, to his inn. The countrymen afterwards, conscious of his own superior knowledge, used to tell of "the poor mad gentleman who went around gathering stones." The Pharisee, clad in his own self-righteousness, has the same difficulty regarding the mission of Jesus; he cannot see how Jesus stoops to even the outcast. He does not see the hidden jewel of the soul; he forgets that the physician must lay his hand upon the loath. some sore, if he would heal it.

(American Sunday School Times.)

There is a story in the Bustan of the famous Persian poet Saadi, which seems an echo of this evangelical history. Jesus, while on earth, was once entertained in the cell of a dervish, or monk, of eminent reputation for sanctity. In the same city dwelt a youth, sunk in every sin, "whose heart was so black that Satan himself shrank back from it in horror." This last presently appeared before the cell of the monk, and, as if smitten by the very presence of the Divine prophet, began to lament deeply the sin and misery of his life past, and, shedding abundant tears, to implore pardon and grace. The monk indignantly interrupted him, demanding how he dared to appear in his presence, and in that of God's holy prophet; assured him that for him it was in vain to seek forgiveness; and to prove how inexorably he considered his lot was fixed for hell, exclaimed: "My God, grant me but one thing — that I may stand far from this man in the judgment day!" On this Jesus spoke: "It shall be even so; the prayer of both is granted. This sinner has sought mercy and grace, and has not sought them in vain. His sins are forgiven: his place shall be in Paradise at the last day. But this monk has prayed that he may never stand near this sinner. His prayer, too, is granted: hell shall be his place; for there this sinner shall never come."

(Trench.)

One of the legends of Ballycastle preserves a touching story. It is of a holy nun whose frail sister had repented her evil ways and sought sanctuary at the convent. It was winter; the shelter she claimed was granted, but the sinless sister refused to remain under the same roof with the repentant sinner. She left the threshold, and proceeded to pray in the open air; but looking towards the convent, she was startled by perceiving a brilliant light issue from one of the cells, where she knew that neither taper nor fire could have been burning. She proceeded to her sister's bed — for it was in that room the light was shining — just in time to receive her last sigh of repentance. The light had vanished, but the recluse received it as a sign from heaven that the offender had been pardoned, and learned thenceforward to be more merciful m judging, and more Christlike in forgiving.

(S. C. Hall.)

A pious man relates the following incident: One day I passed a shed where I saw several men at work loosening a waggon whose wheels had frozen into the ice. One of the men went to work with axe and hammer, and with much labour loosened one of the wheels, not, however, without doing considerable injury to it. Suddenly, the woman of the house came near, with a pailful of hot water, and poured it on the spokes. The wheels were now quickly loosened, and the loud praises of those standing near were bestowed on the woman. I thought: I will note this! The warming influence of Christ's love loosens the icy bands around a sinful heart sooner than the axe of carnal power or dogmatic opposition.

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