My pastor preached on Luke 7:36-50 yesterday at Grace Fellowship. I wanted to focus on the first three verses as you see what is, in my opinion, one of the more beautiful acts of worship mentioned in the Bible.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, 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. 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,” (Luke 7:36-39, ESV).
Here we have an interesting contrast. The Pharisee, Simon, could not look past the woman who was doing these things to Jesus. He was focused on the external. That she was, as most Bible commentators would assert, was a prostitute or sexually immoral. A morally “loose” woman, someone that a Pharisee would not even want to be seen in company with, let alone have any type of physical contact with.
Pastor Shawn made the following points about her worship yesterday that I wanted to highlight:
- It was costly.
- It was visible and without shame.
- It was personal.
- It was out of gratitude.
- It was deeply emotional.
The perfume likely cost a days wages. She openly worshipped Jesus regardless of who was around and in spite of what they thought. Even though she was in public she was engaging with Christ on a personal level. She was grateful for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus made the following point later with Simon when he said, “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 one will love him more?” (Luke 7:41, ESV). Simon answered that the one who had the larger debt canceled, and he was right, (Luke 7:42).
The point is that Simon was all hung up on judging her and she was worshipping at the feet of the who is the true Judge. Jesus saw past that. He knew what she had done. She was exactly the person who He had come for. Jesus said that “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost,” (Luke 19:10, NIV).
And she was lost. She knew it too, and that is why she was grateful.
Because of this she was overcome emotionally. I’m not one who wears his emotions on his sleeve, but I can remember several times when I was just overwhelmed by the wonderful grace of God in the midst of my unworthiness. Another difference between the Pharisee and the “sinful” woman. She knew she was unworthy. Simon didn’t. She in faith came to the One who could do something about her condition. Jesus later tells her that her sins are forgiven, (Luke 7:48). Not because of her worship, but because of her faith.
Her condition was the same condition that Simon had, but he didn’t realize it. It is the same condition that we all have – sin, (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus provides the remedy.
And He did it even though we are utterly sinful and dead in our sin. He didn’t wait for us to get cleaned up and “get right” so we could follow a set of external standards. He died on the cross for us “while we still sinners,” (Romans 5:8).
If that doesn’t prompt us to extend to Christ costly worship based on gratitude and love and not duty I don’t know what will.