WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30
SCRIPTURE: Luke 7:36-8:3
By: Jeremy Witt
As you read this passage of Scripture, there are similar incidents in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-11 but they are not all referring to the same events. The John account is close to Jesus’ arrest and is at Lazarus, Mary, and Martha’s home while the other accounts are at Simon the Pharisee’s home. We see Simon mentioned in verse 40 in this account. Mark’s account even tells us that Simon had once had leprosy.
Depending on your translation, the woman in the story is not named specifically but is called out based upon her immoral or sinful behavior. This is tied to her unchastity or sexual behavior outside of marriage. Some say she was a prostitute like Pope Gregory and even names her as Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned in Luke 8:2 as being cured of evil spirits and demons. Gregory goes so far as to say that she is this woman in chapter 7. I have heard this throughout my life and even heard it preached this way. I researched this a bit, and I should point out that I found no Scriptural evidence that this is her outside of Gregory’s opinion. Several websites follow in Gregory’s opinion, but going back to the earth church fathers I found no support. Origen, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine reject or highly doubt this theory. The John account names Mary, the sister of Lazarus as the one who anoints Jesus’ head with perfume. They are clearly not the same person in my opinion.
Ultimately, who this woman happens to be a major debate in scholarly circles. But that is not Luke’s point. Luke contrasts the Pharisee with a sinner. He consistently reminds us that Jesus came for all and went against the norms of Jewish society which would be to focus upon the Pharisee or religious. Luke’s focus is to show Jesus’ heart for all people as we have discussed throughout. This woman had a reputation. She was talked about was judged. She had a past and people knew it. The host of the gathering was appalled at her, but not Jesus! He spoke to her. He allowed her to get close to Him. This is what Jesus does for us. Despite our past, our stupidity, our sinful behaviors, the Holy God allows us to come near to Him through Jesus. Jesus bore the penalty of what I (we) deserve. He stands in the gap for us regardless of our past. We are all equal at the foot of the Cross.
Luke also points out the contrast between what the woman did for Jesus what Simon the Pharisee failed to do, which was to care for his guest. We see this in verses 44-46. She was thoughtful while Simon was neglectful. She was remorseful while Simon was arrogant. She was the hero of this event rather than Simon, which was shocking to the people of that day.
The parable or story that Jesus used in verses 40-50 stands out to show this contrast. The woman’s heart was repentant while Simon and the others at the table were hard and arrogant. They missed the point. She was forgiven.
Yet it just might be that their pride was the greater sin. It might be that they were the ones who needed forgiveness but were so caught up in themselves that they completely missed. Pride causes us to miss what God is striving to do in us because I (we) think that I know better than God, which is essentially idolatry. Isn’t it true that the sins that we are innocent of are the sins that we judge others more harshly with? But the sins that I am guilty of are the sins that I tend to show more grace to others. I have to be careful not to be arrogant and hard-hearted, or I am no different than Simon and these at the table (verse 49).
The first verses of chapter 8 (verses 1-3) point us to more women who followed Jesus and helped to support him financially. Luke contrasts Mary Magdalene (healed of demons) and Susanna (a wealthy woman) along with many others who supported Jesus and the 12. Why is this important? Jesus cares for all regardless of gender. These verses show us people who were behind the scenes that made it possible for Jesus to impact others. You may not be out front speaking, but they are critical in order for people to hear the Gospel. You may not be on stage or well-known but your faithfulness to the LORD matters. Your financial support enables the church to do its ministry. It may not be broadcast to everyone what you are doing, but the LORD notices!
These verses show that you matter. No matter your past, no matter how well known or behind the scenes you are, you matter. Your faithfulness matters. It also reminds us that those who are rejected matter, and those whose reputations which are not the most favorable matter. We need to remember what we have been forgiven of and to offer that same forgiveness to anyone because they matter.