This whole chapter deals with national deficiencies and in particular Galilean deficiencies.
Verses 1-10 Not as great faith throughout Israel as found in a Gentile
Verses 11-17 The Saviours fame went throughout Judea; the miracle was performed in Nain
Verses 18-30 No recognition
Verses 31-35 No respect
Verses 36-50 No love
Verses 1-10 A centurion blessed
7 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: 5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. 6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
A few general comments were made at the start of the meeting as the speakers wife had recently had an operation and others of our own number were poorly. It was explained that Christians are not immune from sickness. This discussion led on to the subject of the Lord Jesus performing the miracle in the early part of this chapter. Many miracles are like parables in this respect that, apart from the physical blessing, they speak of a greater spiritual blessing. The section before us is to be considered in three sections
1. The town where the miracle took place
2. The elders
3. The centurion
1. Capernaum was the name of the town where the miracle took place and we considered its privileges and judgments. It had witnessed Peter and the draught of fishes, the curing of the demon possessed man in the synagogue, Peter mother in law being raised back to health and strength, crowds healed (Luke 4.38) and the paralysed man restored in Luke 5. The people of the town were privileged in that they saw many miracles. What about our privileges? We can hear the word of God? We can buy the word of God? Do we take advantage of these privileges? A little later on, as recorded for us in Matthew 11.23, we learn that Capernaum was upbraided (told off) by the Lord Jesus. The town had been exalted into heaven by having heaven present in its midst in the form of the Lord Jesus. Despite that privilege it was to be brought down to hell because, as Matthew 11 verse 20 reveals, they didnt repent on seeing the mighty works. The damnation was so great that the Saviour said that if such works had been performed in Sodom then it would have remained to this day. It was going to be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than it was for this town. Have we repented of our sins? Time and time again the Saviours message was repent. Have we ever said that it was me and my sins that put the Saviour on the cross? Without repentance there can be no blessing.
2. The elders. They said of the Roman centurion that he deserved to have his servant healed for he had built the local population a synagogue. It was rare for a foreign soldier from an invading force to be a popular figure but these people considered him to be worthy. It was the elders of the Jews who were sent by the centurion and on his behalf. He must have been held in high esteem. The elders had high regard for this man. The word used for worthy is the same as that found in John 1.27, He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose. Do we consider ourselves to be worthy of heaven? Do we consider ourselves fit for that place? Perhaps it is that we think that respect for Christians guarantees a ticket to heaven. Perhaps we think that being a philanthropist (the centurion was a philanthropist) makes us guaranteed a place in Gods heaven. Giving to worthy causes doe not secure a home in heaven. Ephesians 2 is unequivocal, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. In one sense the centurion did not deserve to be blessed. He was a sinner like the rest of us and like us he needed to have faith to receive the blessing. The centurion recognised this fact. The elders thought that he was deserving of blessing and that the Saviour was obliged to heal but the centurion himself did not say anything of the sort.
3. Centurion. He was a man of authority. He did not claim that, due to his authority, he deserved to be blessed. It was his faith and not his authority that brought about the blessing. He fell at the Saviours feet. This was an authoritative man. He had formed the clear judgment that the Lord Jesus was unique. Have we? What a delightful man the centurion was. This was no ordinary centurion. It says of his slave that he was dear unto him. Further on in the passage we read that the centurion said, Trouble not thyself for I am not worthy that shouldest enter under my roof. This man was marked by humility. Humility is required for salvation. He had sent the elders to the Lord Jesus but he had not, as far as we read, instructed them to say what they said. He never proclaimed his own worth and may well have been sad that the elders did so. In fact when the Saviour neared the house and friends were sent on the centurions behalf this time they were given the message to say that the centurion did not consider himself worthy or sufficient (the word used in verse 4 means worthy). He knew that this one was the worthy one. Do we believe that the Lord Jesus has the authority to forgive sins? Have we the assurance of sins forgiven?
Verses 11-17 Arise
11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came 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. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
A presentation was made to help in the understanding of the section. The title slide bore the words Funeral, fear and fame an extraordinary day in Nain. It was explained that the story is sensitive as there are hard things to talk about. Recently we had considered a centurions servant who was healed from a distance and the Saviours joy in finding a man of faith. The centurion did not believe in himself but had tremendous faith in the Lord Jesus who He was and what He was able to do. Now the Lord Jesus has travelled the 25 miles from Capernaum to Nain. We were to consider two groups and two words.
It may have appeared to be the one mass of people on the road but the Lord Jesus was travelling to Nain with two groups in attendance many of His own disciples and much people. These were full of excitement and interest as they witnessed wonderful things. In contrast there was a crowd that met them. They encounter a funeral procession which was, no doubt, quite chaotic and coming out of the village as the Lord Jesus and His entourage were entering Nain. There was a widow and her dead son and a group of people with them. In Bible times professional mourners came to funerals but the woman who is the subject of the narrative was a widow. These had to be paid and now this woman was without a husband and her only son. There was no future for her. No doubt there was the sound of abundant crying. It was the done thing to join the procession. It was expected for these that were entering the village (excited and full of interest in what the Saviour had to say next and to do next) to join the procession of those who were forlorn and without hope but this did not happen. The crowd could not offer hope. They may have been able to offer practical support but the saviour was able to offer more than this.
What can we learn? Whatever others may see or think we must realise that the Lord knows them that are His. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. II Timothy 2.19. God knows who are His. Are we His? There are many who can say that they are His as there was a day in their lifes experience when they trusted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. They confessed their sins and believed on Him. Have we done the same? The disciples were those who followed the Lord Jesus. If we have trusted Him then we are to depart from iniquity. It has been well said, If I was accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict me?
The widow was helpless and without Christ so are we. That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: Ephesians 2.12. We can turn to many things for comfort and help but only the Lord Jesus brings hope.
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
For anyone else to have uttered the phrase weep not would have been unkind and unrealistic. His words were based on care and the fact that He could change her life. The Saviour was moved with compassion which is all one word in the Greek NT and is a verb. There was action involved. Immediately upon the utterance of the two words the Saviour moved forward and touched the bier (a carrying device for bodies). He said simply, Young man, I say unto the, arise. The young man sat up and began to speak. The scripture records beautifully that the Saviour returned him to his mother. He had demonstrated love in action. It was not that He merely had compassion but that He was able to do something about the situation. So often we can sympathise and be moved with compassion but are unable to reverse the situation. He was able to turn the situation on its head and did so in a quiet and undemonstrative way. He had compassion and ability. But God commendeth (shows) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8. This was the proof of Gods love in our case.
It would have been unthinkable of the Lord Jesus to touch a coffin had he not been able to banish death. Touching the dead was considered an unholy thing according to OT law. All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. Numbers 6.6 He did not touch death to be contaminated by it but to destroy its very power and hold over men.
How did that day end? There came a fear upon all. There was terror. They glorified God. The day started with hopelessness and ended with glory. Are we true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ? Without Him there is no real hope. Have you ever realised that God demonstrated His love in your case? Glory came Gods way that day due to what the Lord Jesus accomplished. Glory can be brought to God this very day due to a life being changed.
One question that could be asked is why it was that His fame went forth throughout all Judea when the miracle had been performed in Galilee.
Verses 18-35 Of John the Baptist
18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. 19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. 24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. 26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. 29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. 31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
The main two characters in the passage are The Lord Jesus and John the Baptist. John the Baptist has been informed of the miracles that Jesus had done in the preceding verses. It is worth looking at these miracles - the healing of the centurions servant, and the raising of the widows son.
Firstly, let's look at the relationships.The servant of the centurion; there was a relationship between the two that bonded them together - the master / servant. He was a much valued member of the household. The other relationship was much stronger naturally speaking, between a mother and a son. What relationship do you have with Christ? Do you have any relationship with Christ? Are you saved by the blood of Christ?
Secondly let's see the physical state of the two. The servant was sick, and the son was dead! Let us consider the question of our sin. The Bible says we are dead to God and sick with sin without Christ. The state of the two people is no problem for God; He deals most effectively with both of them. There is nothing to stop you coming to Christ.
Thirdly let's look at the reaction of the two: the centurion was humble in his attitude with Christ, and the mother very sad with tears at the loss of her only son.
Fourthly let's look at Christ response: Christ commended the centurion for his great faith. Christ had compassion for the widow.
God loves you! There is no greater theme in the entire Bible, than the love of God to you, expressed in the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary. If we act in faith God will commend us for our faith. Show God your faith in Christ's work on the cross, by accepting Christ sacrifice for your sins.
So the word went out through all of Judaea and the surrounding regions concerning CHRIST. John the Baptist was being held by Herod in prison on the eastern side of the Dead Sea though there is no mention of this prison or its location within the Luke 7 text. The parallel text in Matthew 11.2-19 indicates that he was in a prison and Matthew 14.3 lets us know that Herod the tetrarch put him there. John the Baptist was imprisoned in one of the palaces of King Herod which was also used as a prison. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus states that John the Baptist was imprisoned in the palace of Macherus (Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, V, 2). The palace was built in 90 B.C. and was located about 24 km southeast of where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea. John had been in prison for about twelve to eighteen months when news about Jesus disturbed him. There are two questions asked. John the Baptist wants some verification of who this person Jesus is. So he asked two of his disciples to talk with the Lord Jesus.
Why is there any doubt in the mind of John as to who the Lord Jesus is? Well he was in prison under pressure and being treated badly. Even the best of faithful men are prone to questions. It is good to question your faith, and find the answers to your questions in the Bible with help from godly people you know and trust. So if you have questions then ask; you will not get turned away.God always has an answer. It may not come immediately, but it will come.
Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? How does this strike you? Well for me it's about PROPHECY.
Acts 13:24-25, When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
John was doing the preparatory work of God. He prepared the people for Christ's first coming.
He was saying,
There is one coming!
There is a salvation coming, the salvation foretold in the OT
We need to watch for him whose shoe laces I (John) am unworthy to untie.
So John was looking for the fulfilment of prophecy in a man who was Christ the Son of God, God Himself. (Christ is God! I and my father are one (John 10:30). Let's always give Christ the honour He deserves)
John the Baptist was seeking the fulfilment of what was written in the OT where the reader was told to look out for a Saviour. Was Christ the one they should have been expecting? Was Christ the man to save His people from their sins?
The disciples of John the Baptist went to the Lord Jesus and asked the questions directly, and you will notice a direct answer was not given. Frustrating isn't it when sometimes there is no straight answer yes or no in life? That's the way it is sometimes and we have to weigh the thing up. But what about scripture? There is always a purpose in the way God has laid out the Bible for us. To know God, we need to know the Bible, as Christians with the Holy Spirit as the one who reveals the truth.
1 Corinthians 2:12, Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
What was the answer / reaction of the Lord Jesus? V 21 In the same hour (pretty quick)He healed the sick, healed those with infirmities, plagues and evil spirits, and give sight to the blind.
So the Lord Jesus did in fact answer Johns questions indirectly, but with great visual power and authority, by performing exactly the miracles that OT prophets predicted the true Messiah would do. Isaiah 35:5-6, Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
Isaiah 61:1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
So the Lord told the two to go back to tell John that the lame were healed, the blind saw and the gospel was preached. This is your answer, the best of answers, seen by the very eyes of Johns disciples and not with words only but with mighty deeds that could only have been done since God was with the Lord Jesus.
v23: Then this statement, Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. What is this? Is it an encouragement to John not to lose his faith! John has had questions, even some doubts perhaps. That is natural. John you are in prison and I have the power to set you free, but this is not my will for you. Gods restraint was seen in the use of His power, not for our purposes, but for His. Christ could have called 12 legions of angels to rescue Him from the cross, but He died alone for you and me. (Matthew 26:53)
Why does God not act we say? Why not help the situation? Why not make things better? God acts in His own way in His own time for His own purposes, and we can be sure it is for our good too.
Doing Gods will (sometimes easier said than done); finding out Gods will (sometimes hard to do); doing Gods will (the best thing for us to do); having contentment in doing Gods will (this is the best we can do). This is the secret to a happy and fulfilled Christian life!
v24: When the two had gone back to John to report then the Lord Jesus Christ started to tell those around about John the Baptist. We must realise that the people in authority did not accept John, or what he preached. They rejected him and in doing so rejected Christ. The Lord Jesus said, What did you expect to see in this man John the Baptist, a man that is dressed in fine clothes and living well. This was not John as he was one living in the desert eating locusts and wild honey. This type of people live in the kings court, massaging the kings ego, trying to please him to get material gain for themselves, land, houses, royal favours etc. What did you expect to find - a man that is like a reed shaken by the wind whose opinions and moral standards bend to what ever way the wind is blowing?
No ! These are the kings entourage, whose only way of speaking is to agree with what ever the king says on the subject, sycophants, with no back bone. With an eye to what they could get for themselves.
What can we say about this?
As Christians FIRSLTY we MUST KNOWN THE TRUTH. This is a process learnt over many years of Bible study. There is no truth other than what the Bible teaches. No new revelations from God other than what the Bible already states. If we have understood the Bible incorrectly, then we can be better informed as to its contents. That's fine. We all go through that. That's the process of learning.
Once a principle of divine truth has been grasped, then we need to stick with it, hold on to it, don't let it go no matter what the changing weather of social opinion says.
Oh surely you still don't believe that do you? Haven't we moved on from that way of thinking, hasn't science pointed us in a different direction? Don't we understand better now than then?
Certainly not! What the Bible says is what it says. Same sex marriage. Society has started now to accept these things as being OK. Many countries have legalised it, the tide is turning and soon everybody will not give it a second thought. We should not hold these things against anybody. Hate the deeds but dont hurt the people. Just tell the truth about what the Bible says in love.
NO! THE BIBLE IS CLEAR AS CAN POSSIBLY BE ON THE SUBJECT! Romans 1:26
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
When we know a Bible truth we stick with it what ever the weather of social opinion.
No! It was a prophet they went out to see, a prophet who stood on the truth of God and they saw John, who was the subject himself of prophecy, and in fact, it was The Lord Jesus that said, he is much more than a prophet.
What is a prophet?
A prophet in the Bible is one who speaks the mind of God to the people, no matter the cost or consequence to himself. So the people can know without error what's expected of them from God. How wonderful that believers today can rest in the complete Bible before us. This is all we need to understand, this is what we can rest in, this side of glory.
Jesus quoted Malachi 3:1 to show that John the Baptist was foretold in the OT
Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. But Jesus quoted it, Behold, I send My messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. The pronoun me is changed to you. Malachi was saying in his view that the I in I send my messenger, and the me in prepare the way before me is One in the same GOD. But here in Luke it is Jesus Christ speaking. He does not confuse the matter and makes a distinction. The Lord Jesus is speaking about Himself and not the Father which shows that God and Christ are one.
v28: A statement of the value placed on a believing soul saved to heaven!
John was the only one to be honoured with the prophecy of announcing the coming of the Messiah! Other prophets were of equal zeal and godliness, but none other had this particular job to do. Here we get an insight into how the Father looks on the saved.
The least inthe kingdom is greater than the forerunner ofthe kingdom.
What a valued position we hold as Christians. This must want us to praise God and live for Him day by day, despising the shame!
v29: The Lord is still speaking and talking about Johns preaching. Many ordinary folk that heard him were baptised in the river Jordan, even tax collectors! They must have been a bad bunch in those days to have special mention here. As they acted on Johns preaching they by their action found God to be righteous in demanding repentance, before God could reign (they justified God). The word to justify here is not to make righteous for certainly nobody can make God righteous, but rather to count God right in all His ways and in all His judgments!
Many say, How can you believe in God who can punish wrong! The sensible response is, How can you possibility believe in God who could let sin go unpunished. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach a universality of salvation. Universality of sin - yes but that every body is going to be saved in the end - NO! God is love YES but the other side of the coin is that God is holy. Sin must be punished, otherwise He is not holy and He certainly is holy.
v30: The Pharisees refused the baptism of John, and therefore refused Gods pattern for them. In fact the whole generation of which they were leaders were unsatisfied with whatever God had provided for them. He likened them to children playing in the market place, never happy with whatever game they were playing, always wanting what the others had. They were wayward and perverse. No matter what ministry God used, they would take exception to it. John the Baptist gave them an example of living simply and godly, but they rejected it, saying he was demon possessed.
The Lord Jesus did not wear sackcloth and ashes as OT prophets had done betimes. The Lord Jesus ate and drank with sinners and tax collectors, the type of people He came to save - all of us in other words but they rejected him too, saying that He was a glutton and a winebibber.
So what for the Christian! We cannot hope to please everyone; the world will always find fault in us no matter what we do.
So the best thing to do is to continue to walk the Christian path, whatever the comments from the unsaved! Keep to the truth! Please God.
v35 Wisdom here refers to God Himself, the only true and wise, and loving God. Those who are saved and follow this wisdom, by seeking to live a holy life, are the children of wisdom! The population at large have rejected God, this is nothing to the saved! We who know the truth cling to the truth, and the truth has made us free in Christ.
Verses 36-50 Appreciating and deprecating Christ
36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And 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. 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
By now we understand that the way that this gospel account was written was to show the son of man in His care for the sons of men. In this section we come across assumption, prejudice and reality. We learn of a womans devotion, a Pharisees deprecation and the Saviours declaration. Simon was a Pharisee and thought himself a cut above the rest. What was his motivation? The Pharisees had taken exception to the Lord Jesus but perhaps here was one who broke the mould. When we invite people into our homes we welcome them. It may be an embrace. It may be the offer of a something to drink. Of the Lord Jesus it just says that He sat down to eat (better than the word meat). Into the room came a woman of the city. There is speculation that this was Mary Magdalene. Had she met the Lord Jesus before? Had she been saved? Of those in the room there would have been those in the elevated seats and around whom the conversation centred. There would have been those lesser friends who did not get the whole invite and then there was Mary and she, no doubt, did not get an invite at all. It took courage to go into this house. What was her motivation? A Pharisee would never speak publicly (on the street) to any woman let along one of the city. She was motivated for she had brought with her a box of ointment. Maybe the thought passing through her mind was, What can I do for Him? She knew what He had done for her. That did not involve ointment. What had happened in her life was something that any large amount of money could not buy. We used to sing a chorus the refrain of which went something like this:
Oh yes my friend theres something more, something more than gold
To know your sins are all forgiven is worth much more than gold.
She poured out the ointment. The guests would have reclined on their left hand side with their legs and feet away from the low table. She went away down low to administer the perfume. This took great humility. It was the task of a slave to attend to the feet (a menial task) though this attention was unusual to say the least. It took a heart of love. Her hair was used and women are very particular about their hair. It was an act of worship for in worship the worshipper gets way down low. Each gospel writer writes of a incident where ointment was used (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 7 and John12) but Lukes account is unique.
In verse 39 the Pharisee spoke within himself but the Lord Jesus knew what he was saying. He still does as far as we are concerned. If he were a prophet. He cast doubt on the credentials of the Lord Jesus. He deprecated him (notice verse 16 of this same chapter where the Lord Jesus is called a great prophet). He made assumptions about the woman. He made a judgment and He was wrong about the Lord Jesus for He had recognised His glory and wrong about the woman for he did not account for change of heart and life. Be careful in our assessment of the Lord Jesus. Be careful in our assessment of each other. Here in Luke 7 the Pharisee is guilty of judging the Saviour by his own standards and reactions. In John 12 (a different incident) a judgment was made in relation to the cost of ointment. The Lord Jesus knew the woman. He knew as He knows of us all that there is no one past redemption. He knew that it was for such that the Lord Jesus was to die. Mind he was going to die for respectable ones as well for they too needed His sacrificial death. They too were plagued by sin. There may be degrees of sin but sin is sin whatever form it takes. An unkind word spoken under the breath was brought out into the open by the skill of the Lord Jesus. We may try to do that and get the wrong idea. We cannot read the thoughts of our fellow man but He knew what was in the hearts of men. The Saviour challenged Simons prejudice and assumption. It was not that He judged Simon but showed that there was such a thing as forgiveness and that this woman knew Gods forgiveness in her life. Just as the debtors both needed to released of their debts so both the Pharisee and the woman needed to be forgiven their sins. He focussed on salvation and not on judgment. Simon may well have judged himself based on the Saviours observations but the focus was on the woman and on making sure that the steps that she had taken in following her God were continued on into the future.
By the time the question is asked in verse 42 Simons back is against the wall. This is borne out in his answer I suppose. He did not want to commit himself. He could see where this was leading as the Lord Jesus dismantled his pride. Simon hadnt taken his eyes of the woman. How dare she come into his abode? Yet she had done everything that Simon had left undone. This formerly immoral woman had come with a true love in her heart. There was nothing sensual about this act. She would have known all about that from her past. This act was spiritually motivated and done out deep love and gratitude. There was love in her heart. There was none in Simons. This event took place before the crucifixion and still this woman had this great love. Though the saviours life was a sacrificial one the blood sacrifice had not been made. We have seen the Saviours love demonstrated in His life but the Lord Jesus has displayed matchless love at Calvary. How have we responded?
In verse 47 the Lord Jesus did not play down her sins. They were many but they were forgiven. Notice the tense. She had been forgiven before she entered the house. He knew her heart. As if to make it clear He declared so that she could hear, Thy sins are forgiven. Immediately this became the talking point at the table who is this that even forgives sins? There is only one who can forgive sins and that is the Lord Jesus. This woman was saved on the grounds of faith. Each and every person that has been or is or who will be saved is granted Gods salvation on the basis of faith in Him. On that note the Lord Jesus sent the woman away saying, Go in peace or go into peace.