Thesis:Consider the extravagance that forgiveness brings.
Introduction:The focus of our study this morning is upon Luke 7:37-38. It begins with the words, "And, behold...". The "and" points us backwards to the question we asked last week: Why would a man who considered Jesus a gluttonous drunk invite Him to his house to eat? The focus of that study was upon the pharisaical hypocrisy of Simon. [By the way, the definition in The Sage's English Dictionary and Thesaurus of "pharisaical" is "hypocritically pious".] The "behold" points us forward. So, it is "forward" that we go.
Luke clearly wanted his reader to ponder the relationship of the character of the woman to her behavior. He had already characterized a man in the same way as this woman and told us of his behavior back in chapter five. That man was Simon Peter and his reaction to Jesus in the light of his own self-description was to plead with Him to leave (5:8). This woman was a complete and absolute opposite. She not only did not wish for Jesus to leave, she took pains to find Him so that she could be near Him.
Why the difference? Was this merely a Mars/Venus thing?
Perhaps we will find out if we do as Luke instructed Theophilus: "Behold".
I. Some Housekeeping Stuff.
A. 2Peter 1:9 -- this text, written by the Luke 5:8 person who, at the end of his life, was crucified upside down by request, pointedly tells us that "Christians" who do not develop into mature saints do so for one reason: they are too much like Simon.
B. John 11:2 -- this text may tell us who this Luke 7:37 woman is and, thus, explain why Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived together and why Mary is consistently found "at the feet of Jesus" (Luke 10:39 and John 11:32 -- note: Martha did not fall at His feet -- and John 12:3).
C. Luke 7 -- the overall issue of this text is the relationship between the unique faith of the centurion and the extravagant love of this "sinner".
II. Luke's Characterization of This Woman.
A. The cultural significance of the word "sinner" as Luke used it.
1. It was not at all like our enormously watered down, pharisaical, concept.
a. The pharisees did not consider themselves "perfect" and were not put off by the charge that they "sinned".
b. They simply watered the notion of "sin" down so far that three things happened.
1) They conversely concentrated their notion of "right behavior" so that it was exalted to the realm of "legitimate compensation".
2) They practiced the "compensation" behaviors rigorously.
3) They separated themselves from the category of "sinners".
2. It was the "summary word" for those considered by the culture to be the most degraded.
a. Jesus used the word in this cultural sense in Luke 6:32-34.
b. The Pharisees used the word in this cultural sense in Luke 7:34.
c. This was Peter's point in Luke 5:8.
d. This was Luke's point in our current text.
B. The significance of Luke's "...who was in the city a sinner...".
1. The "city" is unnamed.
2. The phrase is most likely understood as a "reputation" thing.
III. Luke's Description of This Woman's Actions.
A. The word translated "when she learned" is a word that signals something worth "beholding".
1. Its meaning is two-fold.
a. It means that the one who "knows" does so at a profound level, not a superficial one.
b. It means that the one who "knows" got to this profound level by diligence.
2. Its meaning is absolutely contrary to Peter's Luke 5:8 attitude.
a. This contrast is rooted in two things.
1) Peter's Luke 5:8 attitude arose out of his arrogance and his lack of a clear grasp of his status as "forgiven".
2) This "sinner's" attitude was of deep humility coupled to forgiveness.
b. The contrast was that she took pains to find out where Jesus was so that she could honor Him with her ointment.
B. The alabaster vial of ointment had no Lukan explanation.
1. In the other records of alabaster vials, the ointment was said to be "very costly".
2. Luke omits that comment altogether and we are left with only conjecture, but it is clear from the woman's demeanor that it was no small thing...at least to her.
a. There is this reality: the odor was potent and pervaded the room.
b. In the Scriptures where worship is detailed, there is almost always some kind of odor-producing element in the worship.
c. Paul pulls this reality up in his "odor of acceptable sacrifice" terminology in Philippians4:18; his "a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" terminology in Ephesians 5:2, and his "savour of Christ" terminology in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.
C. Her rain of tears indicates a significant emotional upheaval.
1. The rain of tears was accompanied by the use of her hair to dry His feet.
2. The drying of His feet with her hair brought her lips so close to His feet that she began to kiss them.
a. The "kissing" is described in terms of the Luke 15:20 record of the father of the prodigal and the Acts 20:37 record of Paul's declaration that the people would never see him again.
b. In a kind of horrifying way, both Matthew and Mark use this relatively scarce word to describe the behavior of Judas at the betrayal.
D. The actual anointing came last -- after His feet were cleansed by the tears and hair.