We continue our analysis of our focus text, and for that reason it is repeated today: “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).

Simon reached a conclusion, i.e. Jesus is not a prophet, based on an assumption. That assumption was fundamentally flawed and his error was essentially based in how he thought that sinners ought to be treated. For some reason Simon thought that sinners should be avoided at almost any cost and regardless of the potential good that might be done by contact with them. Perhaps this woman was a Gentile, maybe she was a prostitute; fact is, no one knows her specific plight. However, one thing is certain, Simon deemed her unfit for social or religious contact. One would think that a man such as Simon, a Pharisee of apparent repute, would act in what he thought was a godly manner, and that good intentions were behind the way he treated sinners. But, note the conclusion he reached: “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 “…spoke to himself…” this flawed conclusion At least he didn’t blurt out his thoughts, but how surprised he must have been to find out that the man whom he deemed not to be a prophet actually knew what he was thinking! We will explore that avenue later in this miniseries, but for now, just note that it appears that Simon never spoke his doubts; he just thought them to himself.

There is a high price we pay for being self-righteous, namely, we miss knowing God. God was actually in Simon’s presence and he totally dismissed Him as not even qualifying as a prophet, say nothing of being Messiah and God incarnate! Somehow his thinking had become so biased and his mind so closed that he did not have the capacity to consider his own error! That is the ultimate price we pay by being self-righteous. Only when we humble ourselves and rethink our positions again and again are we equipped to avoid the snare into which Simon plunged!

Paul gave good advice when he said, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ——unless indeed you are disqualified [reprobate; KJV].” (2 Corinthians 13.5). When we think we know God, we err! When we think we know that we are in the faith and that no further self-examination is needed, we err. Had Simon entertained the possibility that he might be wrong about how God treats sinners, perhaps he would have avoided the trap into which he fell. (Continued)

Questions:

1. Did Simon think he was treating sinners as God would have him treat them?

2. What conclusion did Simon reach about Jesus based on how He treated sinners?

3. Do we ever completely know God? Why or why not? When we think we know Him, what errors are we likely to commit?

4. Why did Paul advise the Corinthians to examine themselves? Is that advice appropriate for today? Who needs that advice?