Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he is love. That love is who God is. Praise God that he has manifested his love among us by sending his only Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:7-12.
Confess the sin of not understanding and comprehending the magnitude of God's wondrous love for you. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you to see that God loves you. Pray that God would help you to respond by lovingly giving yourself to him.
Let's read Luke 7:36-50 – How much do you love Jesus?
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
V36. Accepting an invitation.
A Pharisee called Simon invites Jesus to his home to eat with him and his colleagues. Jesus accepts the offer, which shows his willingness to dine with whoever asks him, regardless of their attitude towards him. If a door was opened for him to sit and talk with people, even if those people despised him, he took it.
Sometimes we can be too quick to cut ourselves off from someone if they have done us harm. It's easier to say 'no, you have hurt me, and I'm not going to have anything more to do with you.' Now, of course, a time does come when we not only have a biblical warrant to stop interacting with someone, but the biblical command not to do so. But that command relates specifically to a professing Christian, who is manifestly denying their profession by their openly ungodly lifestyle. 1 Corinthians 5:11.
V37. Lo, a woman!
Something astonishing happens as the men at this function were reclining at the table eating – a woman appears. The staggering nature of this is revealed in Luke's use of the word 'lo', which we have translated 'behold'. Why is this astonishing? Two reasons: first, these meals were typically for men; and second, because of who this woman is. Luke says that she is a 'woman of the city'. It's a phrase that indicates that Luke is kind in his introduction of her. The term 'prostitution' was commonly used in the Old Testament; in fact, there are almost 40 references to prostitution or harlotry, the first in Genesis 38. It's not that the New Testament writers were above using the word 'prostitute', the Lord does so in Luke 15:30, as does Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:16. In all, there are eight references to 'prostitution' in the New Testament. So, Luke's avoidance of the word is not through prudishness, rather his gentle approach when identifying this unnamed woman is because he wants to guard her newfound reputation in Christ. We should be careful when speaking specifically about individuals. It is always good to speak no worse of a person than we are compelled to do by the evidence of their lives.
How is Luke aware of the change in this woman's lifestyle? He sees it in what she does. First, she comes to Simon the Pharisee's home. Think about the courage that must have taken. The idea of her going to a gathering in someone's home, let alone to a function in the house of a prominent Pharisee – well, that took some doing. It wasn't that such functions were always private; people could sit along the walls of the room and listen as men informally discussed and debated the finer points of rabbinical law. But a woman like this had no place in a gathering like this. The reaction of those present to her presence clearly shows that. So, what motivated her to do so? Did anger drive her? Angry people lose a measure of perspective and will act beyond the usual constraints of life. That is why the believer is not to get angry but rather remain self-controlled. James 1:19-20. Anger was not behind this woman's coming to Simon's home; she was motivated by love, love for the Lord Jesus. Real love is a powerful motivator. It is more powerful than anger because it is pure and sustainable. But how can we tell that she loved Jesus? We can tell by what she does. As with everything in life, it is not what a person says that speaks the truth of their lives; it is what they do. And this woman certainly does something which speaks loud and clear about her love for Jesus.
Around the room, jaws drop wide open as they watch this woman. First, as she stands and then quietly and slowly bends down over Jesus' feet. Remember, he is lying on his left side, probably on a large cushion or a couch, reclining at the table which is not far off the ground. Then she begins to cry, and her tears are falling on his dusty feet. The common footwear was sandals, and with the paths being dry and dusty, a host would provide a servant to wash their guests’ feet, before inviting them to the table. Simon had chosen not to do this. The woman then takes her long hair, and she begins to wipe the now wet feet of Jesus with it. Such a woman would normally use her hair to tell men that she was 'available'. Decent women did not go out in public with long flowing hair; to do so was considered disgraceful. She then kisses his feet; literally, she covers his feet with kisses. She has an alabaster flask of ointment; 'alabaster' because that was the name of the town in Egypt where the raw material was found. But why was she carrying around a container of perfume? Formerly it would have been to perfume herself for her 'trade'. Now she breaks the slender neck of the phial and pours the contents over Jesus' feet.
What is this woman doing? She is taking the accoutrements of her former life, and she is using them to tell Jesus that she loves him deeply and is devoted to him. Her hair, her kisses, her perfume; they were all integral to her life, but now she is giving them up to Jesus. She kneels in love at his feet and worships him. She kneels at his feet and tells everyone that her former life is over, and that she is going to be a follower of this man. This is humble, submissive service. Service that is oblivious to what others may think, say or do. Service that is born out of, and carried along by, a deep-rooted genuine love.
How does Jesus respond? He allows her to do what she is doing. He doesn't say a word to discourage her. He doesn't draw away his feet as she beings to cry on and wipe them with her hair. He is approving of her actions. From the moment she stood hesitantly at his feet, to her pouring of the perfume on them, Jesus is compliant in his receiving of this woman's loving affection.
Had they met before? I think they may have. I believe Jesus may have spoken with this woman before this and cleansed her heart. I think this outpouring of love was because Jesus had both loved and set her free, in a way that no other man ever could have done. If they hadn't met and spoken, then the woman must certainly have heard Jesus preach the good news of the gospel and been born again. This is new-life behaviour. This is true repentance, turning away from sin and turning in love with all your heart, soul strength, and mind to God.
Many books are written today about the Christian life. How to live for God, how to become a better believer, how to be an effective evangelist. The bottom line is simple – it is about love. The people I've met who are living God-honouring lives, who delight in the worship of God, all share one thing in common – a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. They have experienced a real work of grace in their lives, and it has changed them. The way they view their lives, what is important, who is important; and they are compelled to respond in love to the one who has effected that change. The person who loves Jesus shows they love Jesus by what they say and do. Their lives and use of their God-given resources cannot do anything other than speak of their love for God. Love cannot be hidden; it will shine through and wonderfully so.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 84B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ,"
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 50 - What are the duties required in the second commandment?
Answer - The second commandment requires us to receive, observe, and keep pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in his Word.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that he has loved us, and that he has given us a new nature so that we can love him and one another.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley