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  • Writer's pictureR.C. VanLandingham

Being Like the Sinful Woman (Part One)

This 9 part series on the Sinful Woman from Luke 7 was originally posted in Lent 2019.

One day, a Pharisee asked Jesus to come to his house to eat with him, and presumably several other Pharisees. The Pharisees were a Jewish sect whom the Apostle Paul tells us were completely committed to keeping all of God’s laws. (Philippians 3:5). The Pharisees were considered extremely pious by the Jewish people, but were self-righteous, believing themselves better and more holy than lowly sinners. (Luke 18: 9-12). They would parade around the city wearing extra-large prayer boxes containing verses of Scripture, as well as robes with extra long fringes. They coveted the seats of honor and loved to be greeted as rabbi. (Matthew 23:5-7).

Luke does not tell us why this Pharisee, called Simon, invited Jesus to his home. But that is of little consequence. What matters more is what happened while Jesus was there. Jesus sat down to dinner, reclining at a table as was the custom. "And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment." (Luke 7:37-38).

This "sinful woman" as she has come to be known was likely a harlot, and therefore, for a pious Jew to allow her to touch him was unthinkable. This didn't go unnoticed by Simon the Pharisee who said to himself. "If [Jesus] were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is and who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Luke 7: 39) But Jesus knew what Simon was thinking and rebuked him by telling him a parable.

"'A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?' Simon answered, 'The one I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.' And [Jesus] said to him, 'You have judged rightly.'" (Luke 7:41-43).

The woman came to Jesus, because she needed Him. She was an extremely sinful woman and the "debt" she owed was her many sins. Jesus would forgive that debt. He was the only man who could. The above picture "For She Loved Much" by Simon Dewey, is one of my favorites. Look at this woman. She is broken. She is at the end of her rope. She comes to Jesus as her last hope, her last opportunity. She comes to Jesus needing a savior. And she is grateful. So very grateful. Look at the gratitude in her eyes. Look at her humility. Look how she worships Him. She knows that her place is at His feet, surrendering completely to Him. It is a beautiful picture, because it is the way I should idealize myself. Luke told the story of the sinful woman, so that sinners like her, and like me, would have an example of how we should come to the Lord. Like her I am extremely sinful and desperately need my debt to be forgiven. But how do I come to Jesus as the sinful woman did?

The sinful woman possess seven attributes that are necessary to properly come to Jesus:

1) She seeks Him.

2) She humbles herself before Him.

3) She worships Him.

4) She is grateful to Him.

5) She surrenders to Him.

6) She is willing to humiliate herself for His glory.

7) She offers Him everything she has.

Over the next several days I will break down this story of the sinful woman by going into greater detail about these seven attributes. I will also discuss how each one applies to me as I seek to come to Christ.

Today's prayer:

Lord, please help me to be always seeking You, like the sinful woman, with gratitude and humility. For I, too am sinful and desperately in need of a savior. You alone can save me Lord, because you alone can forgive my great debt of sin.

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