Choosing Who to Associate With: Luke 7:36-50

Focus Passage: Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Read Luke 7:36-50 in context and/or in other translations on!

All throughout the Bible, we find examples of people revealing their character through their words and actions – though rarely does it show humanity in a positive light. Sure there are moments of triumph, but many more moments of failure.

In the event we are focusing in on, a woman of questionable reputation comes and anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume. Simon, the Pharisee who was hosting this meal, says to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” (v. 39)

It is unclear in my mind if Simon invited Jesus because he was simply being hospitable, or if he wanted to invite the latest celebrity to help build his own reputation, or if there was another reason behind this meal. Perhaps Simon wanted to see for himself if Jesus was special and everything the rumors about Him claimed to be.

However, in the statement Simon says to himself, we see a glimpse into his character.

Firstly, this response shows us that status mattered to Simon. Those you touched are special to you, and those who you let touch you are even more special. It would seem in that culture that touch played a role in closeness and associating with someone, and Simon’s response tells us that he chose carefully who he associated with.

Next, this tells us that Simon knew about the woman, or at least enough rumors about her had circulated that he had a pretty safe idea the type of lifestyle that she lived. The rumors about her were not simply occasional sin, but a life that was actively lived in sin. Perhaps, Simon had a past with this woman, but there is not anything in this passage that really indicates this. We simply can see that Simon at least knew who this person was – and that he had made up his mind about her.

But most importantly, Simon’s statement tries to discredit Jesus in his mind. In Simon’s response in verse 39, he says, “If this man were a prophet…” Simon had questions about Jesus’ status as a prophet, but surely a prophet, or really anyone sent from God, would not openly associate with those who live their lives far away from God. Therefore, in Simon’s eyes, Jesus must not have been a prophet.

However, Simon – like many of us – don’t fully realize what Jesus’ mission was. Jesus came for sinners, to open a way for salvation, and His mission was to those who were looking for a Savior – and we can only truly realize our need for Jesus when we realize we cannot do life on our own. In this regard the sinful woman was not only forgiven for a greater amount of sin in her past, she was also further ahead on the path to seeing Jesus as God’s Messiah and as her personal Savior.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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