Lesson 131—September 25, 2016
Audio Commentary by David Daniel
The ‘Ever Revealing Under the Breath’ Whisper Scripture: Luke 7:36-39
Lesson Goal: To learn and to have an honest understanding of which we truly identify with—the Pharisee or the sinful woman.
Introduction: At first glance, or with casual reading, we may try to identify the woman in Luke 7:36-50 as the same woman of Matthew 26:1-13; Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8. As we compare these passages of Scripture, we find that today’s passage is separate and unique. The events described by Matthew, Mark and John occurred in the house of a leper, while the events of today’s passage took place in the house of a Pharisee. The woman is nameless, and no evidence exists to identify her as Mary Magdalene or Mary of Bethany who also anointed Jesus feet.
(v. 36) Today’s passage opens with Jesus responding to a Pharisee’s invitation to share a meal. Jesus enters the Pharisee’s home and takes the position of a guest at mealtime. We must remember that in Jesus’ day and culture, individuals did not sit in chairs around the table as we do today. Rather, they reclined around the table sitting on the floor or on pillows. Unlike the western world’s “no elbows on the table” etiquette, those of Jesus’ day would have used one elbow to lean or prop themselves on. They would also position themselves so their feet would extend away from the table. When a meal was shared with a religious leader, the table was usually positioned in the center of the room so that others could sit on the floor along the walls and still enjoy the conversation of the hour.
(v. 36) “And He [Jesus] went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down to eat.”
We can only speculate why the Pharisee [Simon—a common name in biblical days] invited Jesus into his home. Simon’s motivation was ultimately known by only Simon and by God. Was it just curiosity concerning Jesus? Was it a genuine inquiry? Or was he setting a trap to collect incriminating evidence against Jesus that could be used at a later time as the Pharisees built their case against Him? Regardless of his motivation, he got more than he anticipated or bargained for.
(v. 37) A woman upon learning that Jesus was inside dares to enter the house of a Pharisee. She enters on a mission of worship and ministry, and she understands the scorn that will come her way just for entering the Pharisee’s house.
Have you ever thought yourself to be better than someone else?
Have you ever given the perception that you were better than someone else?
In your haste to sit with your socially acceptable friends, do you walk by the solitary person sitting by themselves during the Sunday morning doughnut time?
In our minds, how do we justify our failure to include others in our conversation or “welcome circle”?
Is it possible for someone to be lonely on Sunday morning among 700-800 people?
How can our attitudes and actions resemble those of the scribes and Pharisees? Please answer prayerfully.
Have you ever been guilty of being a gossip or thinking too highly of yourself at church?
As stated earlier, this woman is nameless in the Scripture. And we know this is not Mary Magdalene or Mary of Bethany (Luke 8:2; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8). It would be somewhat unusual for a woman to become an active participant in such a scene. But for a woman identified as “a sinner” to enter the house of a Pharisee would be unheard of and very unlikely. The woman’s sin is not identified for us, but it seems that her reputation has indeed preceded her. Simon certainly knew of her reputation (v. 39), and a woman such as this would absolutely not be welcomed in his house or at his table. Simon, no doubt, is shocked by her presence, but he is even more shocked by Jesus’ response to her.
As we study today’s passage, we find that it occurs chronologically after Jesus had spoken the words: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Could it have been that this woman had responded to Jesus’ imperative and invitation “come”?
(v. 37b) “[She brought] an alabaster flask of fragrant oil.” Flasks of that day were usually made of soft stone so they could both contain and preserve the contents placed inside. The word Luke uses to describe the contents is translated “perfume.”
(v. 38) “stood at His feet behind Him weeping” This “sinner” approaches Jesus with respect, reverence and honor. She has come to worship Him and to express her love and gratitude. She begins to weep. The Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament states that the word “weep” means “the outward act of weeping as the result and expression of the inward state of grief.” Literally, Jesus’ feet became wet from her tears. She then used her hair to wipe and dry them of her tears as she “kissed His feet.” Luke writes of her kissing Jesus’ feet with loving affection. This was an action of deepest and most honorable respect and reverence. We find the same word “kiss” in Luke 15:20. Please read Luke 15:20.
The woman’s actions literally caused a shocking effect over those who witnessed them. This woman of the world (a sinner) had dared enter into the house of a Pharisee, and now she literally weeps (as rain) tears that flow down onto Jesus’ feet.
(v. 39) Simon the Pharisee is disgusted and outraged by the woman’s actions, but even more than this, under his breath he voices his contempt for Jesus. Once again, in his pharisaical mind, seeing evidence that this Jesus was no religious man, for what self-respecting religious man, holy man, prophet would dare allow this to continue?
In the midst of the hour, a marked contrast is observed; in one heart we see gratitude, reverence and honor; in the other we see and under-the-breath whisper revealing a spiritual blindness.
What does your under-the-breath whisper reveal about your true character?
Are you truly more like the sinful woman or the Pharisee whisperer?
What does your “just loud enough to be heard by my social circle” whisper say about your true character?
What is a true “pharisaical spirit”? Please describe in detail.
What was the spirit of the sinful woman of today’s Scripture? Please describe in detail.
When God looks at your life, who does He see more of—the woman or the Pharisee?