Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 7:36-50

36 Then one of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume 38 and stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears. She wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—she’s a sinner!”

40 Jesus replied to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

He said, “Say it, teacher.”

41 “A creditor had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one he forgave more.”

“You have judged correctly,” he told him. 44 Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she, with her tears, has washed my feet and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. 46 You didn’t anoint my head with olive oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. 47 Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 Those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

The Original Intent

1) Why would the woman give so extravagantly to Jesus? (verses 37-38)

Luke 7:37-38 describes a woman, probably a prostitute, according to Bible student Charles Ellicott, who approached Jesus to wash His feet with her tears, dry them with her hair, and anoint them with perfume. The foot washing itself was an act of service and honor, and the perfume was an extravagance that proved her love and devotion to Jesus.

Rod Mattoon explains, “Alabaster jars of perfume were so valuable in the first century they were often purchased as investments. This box may have been extremely expensive, as costly as one year’s wages.” Though the woman sought out Jesus when she heard he was at Simon’s house, we are unsure exactly how she knew about Jesus. Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer points out, “The woman through the influence of Jesus (it is unknown how; perhaps only by hearing His preaching and by observation of His entire ministry) had attained to repentance and faith, and thereby to moral renewal”.

This woman left a life of sin behind her when she came to Jesus, and she wanted to thank Him for the freedom that came with His forgiveness. (John 8:36) Her freedom from sin and oppression was worth more to her than the cost of the perfume in the alabaster box. (Romans 6:22) Humbling herself by washing and kissing Jesus’ feet was a way to show Him how much she loved her Savior. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Liz Curtis Higgs suggests “We’ve called her silent adulation worship. What she really poured all over his feet was love. Her tears, her hair, her kisses, her perfume. Love, love, love, love.” This nameless woman’s unspeakable joy of salvation poured forth in lavish gifts of worship to the One who loved her so much that He would pay for her sins. (Titus 2:14)

The Everyday Application

1) Why would the woman give so extravagantly to Jesus? (verses 37-38)

Have you seen those stories of celebrities visiting sick or underprivileged kids, or kids who have accomplished some great feat or act of service? These kids receive extravagant gifts, visits to concerts or sporting events, and videos and selfies to memorialize the moment. These sweet accounts give me all the feels! But I rarely see stories about celebrities lavishing swag on “bad” kids; the bullies, the addicts, the misfits and losers. But this is exactly what Jesus does in Luke 7:37-38.

He treats one of the “bad girls” of the Bible with love and honor, forgiving her sins and accepting her worship, even though it was offensive to their Pharisee host, Simon. The woman couldn’t keep herself from worshipping Jesus, because He had freed her from her sins and she had to express her joy!

The religious leaders still regarded Jesus with caution, doubting His claims, and treated Him with more suspicion than respect. This woman of ill-repute honored Jesus in ways his host failed, by washing His feet. She used this humble deed as an act of worship (Romans 12:1) by pouring out tears and wiping them with her hair, though unbound hair in public was not acceptable per religious laws (F.F. Bruce). Nor could she hold back from pouring out expensive perfume on his feet, indicating her Lord was worthy of all her worship.

Lawrence Richards writes, “That was an act of love; an expression of gratitude. Her ‘many sins’ had been purged, and her tears were tears of joy.” Let’s follow this woman’s example of extravagant worship to the One who has given us everything and is worthy of everything we have. (Revelation 5:12)

The Original Intent

2) Why did Jesus point out the difference between how the woman treated Him and how the Pharisee treated Him? (verses 44-46)

In verses 44-46, Jesus pointed out how differently Simon the Pharisee treated Him than a prostitute who heard Jesus was at Simon’s house and came to see Him. Jesus asked Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she, with her tears, has washed my feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with olive oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume.” (verses 44-46)

Matthew Williams explains there were certain rules about visiting someone’s home in Bible times. “In Jesus’ day, three rituals were common: a kiss of greeting, washing of feet, and anointing with oil. . . Simon has set up Jesus for social shame. No Pharisee who liked Jesus would have done this.” Simon already held Jesus in contempt, but the Pharisee was shocked when the sinful woman entered his home and Jesus allowed her to touch Him. He even made a barbed comment that if Jesus was a prophet He should know all about the kind of woman who was washing His feet. (Luke 7:39)

Jesus made it a point to show Simon that this sinner loved Him better than Simon. He wanted Simon to consider that the woman’s sins were not the most important thing about her, and that Simon’s education and traditions did not make him better than the sinful woman. Jesus wanted to emphasize that forgiving sinful people was the very reason He came to earth from Heaven. (1 Timothy 1:15) Jesus did not want to distance Himself from sinners; He wanted to befriend them and bring them into God’s family. (Luke 19:10)

The Everyday Application

2) Why did Jesus point out the difference between how the woman treated Him and how the Pharisee treated Him? (verses 44-46)

Everyone loves the story of an underdog who defies the odds and comes out on top. From Little Orphan Annie to Rocky Balboa, people love to cheer on those who are looked down on and misused by others. Reading about the unnamed woman who washes Jesus’ feet is reminiscent of just such a tale as the unwelcome woman defies the religious elite, Simon, when she approaches Jesus at Simon’s home. Simon thinks that Jesus’ attentiveness to the woman and her gift is inappropriate, but Jesus points out that this sinful woman has behaved better than His self-righteous host. (Luke 7:44-46)

Jared C. Wilson notes how Simon “grumbles inwardly, not just because he doubts Christ’s holiness in allowing this scandalous scene, but because he considers himself to have higher standards than Jesus has.” Jesus wanted Simon and the onlookers to recognize that He “accepted her worship, covered her with dignity, and regaled her with forgiveness.” (

Simon the Pharisee thought he was better than this woman with a sinful past and that he was more righteous than Jesus, who associated with her. Jesus wanted Simon to know that His forgiveness made scarlet sins as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) In pointing out the disparity between their treatment of Jesus, Christ emphasized that all people are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23), including the woman from the street and the sanctimonious Pharisee.

Jesus pointed out how her worship, while it made the establishment uncomfortable, was more acceptable than Simon’s pious hypocrisy. Jesus lovingly forgives everyone who comes to Him in true repentance (Ephesians 1:7), and He loves the praise and adoration of those who worship Him. (Hebrews 13:15-16)

The Original Intent

3) What does it mean that the one who is forgiven little, loves little? (verse 47)

When a promiscuous woman came to Simon the Pharisee’s house and washed Jesus’ feet, Jesus explained why He considered this an act of worship by telling Simon, “Her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” (verse 47)

Jesus declared this woman’s sins, every single one, to be forgiven. David Guzik points out, “She wasn’t forgiven because of her great love; her great love was evidence that she had been forgiven, probably privately on a prior occasion and now publicly.” Simon had not shown Jesus even the common kindness of foot washing, and Jesus was associating this “little love” with Simon’s lack of awareness of his own need for forgiveness.

Kelly Barbrey notes, “In reality, both the woman and Simon are ‘debtors’ in need of forgiveness. The biggest difference, however, is the passion and awareness with which the woman confesses and the faith she has in Jesus’ forgiveness. Simon is similar to the debtor who owed the smaller sum. (Luke 7:41-42)

In denial of his own shortcomings, he haughtily looks down his nose at the woman who seems to have accumulated a lifetime of transgressions.” Simon didn’t believe he needed to be forgiven of anything because of his perceived superiority. After all, he was a Pharisee, one who studied and taught the law and the Scriptures. He thought he could learn nothing from a prostitute and a traveling teacher.

Jesus wanted Simon to see that God’s forgiveness was the great equalizer, making everyone who called on Jesus a child of God (John 1:12), blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:22), and desirous of sharing the love that had been lavished upon them.

The Everyday Application

3) What does it mean that the one who is forgiven little, loves little? (verse 47)

My friend made some disastrous choices that alienated his family. He recognized he was on a path to ruin and sought God’s forgiveness and restoration. Since then, he has lived like a man with a new lease on life. He is joyful in serving and compassionate with others who need God’s forgiveness. Even when consequences from bad choices continue to surface, he is humbly grateful for God’s forgiveness.

He reminds me of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:47 of whom Jesus said, “her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” My friend loves much because he knows how much God has forgiven him. He appreciates what God saved him from and what God has graciously allowed him to do, despite his past mistakes. Dave Roper explains that “Sin can make us more appreciative of God’s forgiveness and can lead us to a deeper, more extravagant love for Him than we could otherwise attain.”

Those who don’t seek God’s forgiveness don’t have the same perspective and can only “love little.” Vance Havner suggests that today, “Few alabaster boxes are broken in tearful joy over forgiveness. Sin has been glossed over; men do not regard themselves sinners and consequently feel no burden of guilt and, of course, no relief in His pardon.”

When you realize your need for God’s forgiveness, the comfort and love you experience is overwhelming; this joy is yours every time you come to Him. Christ never responds to our repentance with, “You again?” He never says, “You had enough chances.” In fact, Jesus urges us to ask Him for forgiveness when we pray (Matthew 6:12).

Anytime your sins cause you to turn away from God in shame, remember He is waiting to forgive you and love you. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

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