Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 6 Study # 1
November 16, 2008
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he entered into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
37 And behold, a woman who was in the city, a sinner; and when she knew that he was sitting at meat in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster cruse of ointment,
38 and standing behind 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.
39 Now when the Pharisee that had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner.
- I. The Story is Focused Upon a "Pharisee".
- A. The word "Pharisee" is used four times in the four verses that provide the "setting" for Jesus' teaching.
- B. The focus upon the "Pharisees" in Luke's larger record is predominantly negative. These men were of a "type": extremely self-righteous and satisfied in their own minds of their superiority to others.
- C. The focus upon the "Pharisees" in this particular part of Luke's record was introduced in 7:30 as a profound negative: they and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God as it was set forth by John's baptism.
- D. Jesus said of these "Pharisees" that they described John as a demoniac and Him as a gluttonous drunk.
- II. There Is a Story Link Between 7:30-35.
- A. It is strange indeed that Luke would record Jesus' revelation of the attitude of the Pharisees and lawyers and then turn right around and record a Pharisee inviting Jesus to "eat with him". Who invites a "gluttonous drunk" home to eat?
- B. Perhaps this particular Pharisee was not of the "type", or had not heard Jesus' words, or was attempting to "show" that Jesus was being "too critical".
- C. As the story unfolds we see that the Pharisee was of the "type" and there is no rationale for Luke's placement of this record in this place if he wished for us to think this Pharisee did not hear what Jesus had said. That leaves only one most likely probability: the man wanted to demonstrably contradict Jesus' spoken criticism of his "class" of people.
- 1. The "problem" for the Pharisees (and for us) is the question of how one maintains a legitimate insistence upon behavior that is "godly" while not being "self-righteous".
- a. How does one insist upon a standard of behavior without, at the very minimum, claiming to be meeting that standard? It is the essence of hypocrisy to demand of others what one is not doing oneself. And if one claims to be meeting the standard, how does one not come off as "self-righteous"? And how does one insist upon a given standard of behavior when everyone transgresses the standard in some form or another? Gluttonous Christians are horrified by "same-sex unions" but are not equally horrified by their own bondage. Christians who engage in spiteful gossip on a regular basis are "condemning" of drunks and dope heads and prostitutes, etc. The alternative seems to be "live and let live", but that only leads to immoral chaos. Even when believers put bumper stickers on their cars that proclaim "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven" there is an implied "superiority" that offends the "unforgiven". And the most prevalent of all doctrines within "Christianity" -- that man has, and must use, a "free will" -- is, at its root, tied to a sense of "moral superiority" in that anyone who has used their "free will" to yield to God is superior to all who have not used their "free will" to yield to God.
- b. The Pharisees were offended by Jesus because He seemed to be breaking down the moral boundaries with His "repent and you will be forgiven" doctrine (not to mention His accusation that they were more morally polluted than those they criticized).
- 2. The greater "problem" for the Pharisees was the inherent antagonism they felt toward Jesus. They did not see that they were jealous -- even though it was not hard for others to see (Pilate saw it: Matthew 27:18). They were fundamentally unaware of their motivations, but they knew that they did not like Him.
- 3. But the desire to "demonstrably contradict" Jesus' accusation that the man's "type" childishly called Him a gluttonous drunk was rooted in "reputation" issues. This means that, even if the man did not know it of himself, he was attempting to take the sting out of Jesus' accusation by "proving" that it was not true. And that attempt was, at its root, simply a "pride of life" problem. He did not like a man with the popularity of Jesus going around making him look bad, so he wanted to prove He was wrong.
- D. But there is also Luke's larger purpose: to reveal why Jesus had not found the kind of faith exercised by the centurion in Israel (7:9).
- 1. The "bottom line" is not whether one person is morally superior to another; it is whether one is offended by Jesus or not. Typically, the tax-farmers and sinners of the day knew their moral corruption. They may have even been "proud" of it as a way to deal with it. But, Jesus was to them a way out. On the other hand, the Pharisees and lawyers had blinded themselves to their moral corruption and were "proud" of their superiority and, to them, Jesus was simply an "accuser" Who made them look bad.
- 2. The reason there was no "faith" like the centurion's was that there was no "love" like the prostitute's. The issue is not, "There but for the grace of God go I" (a rather proud statement) but "There in spite of the grace of God go I" (a recognition that though I am forgiven, I am too foolish and unbelieving to love Him as I ought).
- 3. It is a point of fact, however, that, on the individual level there is more true good that arises out of love, even when it is seriously flawed, than out of law; but, on the collective level there is more "order" when the force of "law" is applied because there are so few who actually love. People will do more when their own self-interest is involved than they will when someone else's interests are at stake.