How does God treat sinners? The truth sometimes shocks our sensibilities! To our surprise, and sometimes chagrin, He doesn’t treat them the way we want Him to! Consider our primary question of how God treats sinners as we investigate our focus text.
“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, ‘This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.’” (Luke 7.36-39).
There are some parallels in this story that we need to see along with the implied applications. As we observed before, I don’t always like these parallels or applications; I like to act as though they are not true; however, my preferences in the matter do not change the facts. Think about this event and how it relates to our general theme. Jesus went to a Pharisee's house for a meal. To this point, all was as it should have been; the Pharisees deemed themselves the strictest and therefore the closest of the Jewish sects to God. Jesus correctly chose one of their houses as a place to dine. As we analyze this text, we can almost see the head of the master of house swell with self-righteous pride! However, this aura of superiority is not to last long; it is founded on a false sense of pride rooted in a false perception of how God treats sinners. Simon the Pharisee (not Simon Peter or any other Simon of which we have specific knowledge) soon found himself engaged in a battle of spiritual wits with God incarnate, a battle which he was sure to lose.
In Simon’s mind, the story took a sour turn when a woman of the city followed Jesus into his house. To that point, nothing could have been more perfect! But now with the popularity of Jesus and the crowds that usually went wherever He went, this woman - this vilest of sinners - invited herself into Simon’s house and had the audacity to press into the very presence of the master of the house and his guests! With these events, it became apparent that Jesus’ reaction to the woman horribly violated Simon’s perception of how God treats sinners. He even reasoned within himself saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
Simon thought he knew God and how He treats sinners. These thoughts were behind his mistaken concepts of how this man ought to have treated this sinner. If Simon’s perceptions were true, this man could not even be a prophet, say nothing of being God! But, oh how wrong Simon was! He thought he knew – but he didn’t! Kind reader, please grasp the parallel. Simon’s false notion of how God treats sinners forced him to deny the reality of God in his very presence! Don’t allow your perceptions of how God treats sinners to force you fail to see God as He is!
1. How could the woman have gained entrance into Simon’s house?
2. What were Simon’s thoughts about the woman and Jesus as He allowed her to wash His feet?
3. Why was the woman crying? (The text does not explicitly say, but we can know if we read the entire story and draw the correct inferences.)
4. How and why were Simon’s perceptions of how God treats sinners wrong? What further personal disaster could Simon’s misconceptions have caused?
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