Scripture: Luke 7:36-50
Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Spend some time in worship.

Luke’s placement of this story in his Gospel indicates that, at this time, the relationship between Jesus and the religious leaders had not yet become totally
antagonistic. Some of the Pharisees wanted to learn more about who Jesus was, and listen to His teaching. Whilst some scholars think this woman is Mary Magdalene, there is no evidence of this. The fact that Luke describes her as ‘a sinner’ indicates that she was a woman who was
notorious for her actions. Again it is presumed she was a prostitute. Her appearance at
the Pharisee’s home would have required great courage and determination.
The alabaster jar, in itself, was an expensive item. It would have had no handles. Such
small jars had long necks and were often worn by Jewish ladies, suspended on a cord
round their necks. It was such a familiar part of their outfits that they were even allowed
to wear it on the Sabbath. (A tailor with a needle through their cloak was considered
guilty of ‘work’ if he still had it there on the Sabbath). The neck of the jar would be
snapped off to release the perfume it contained.

This lady served the Lord in a purely personal way. Her gift was from herself to the
Master. Jesus would have been reclining at a low table, leaning on His left arm, with His
body stretched away from the table. It was the custom to remove the sandals before a
person reclined in such a way. The woman’s tears flowed freely with the emotion of
serving Jesus in such an intimate way. She washed his feet and kissed them as she dried
them with her hair which was hanging loose – an indication of immodesty in the woman.
The usual practice was to anoint a person’s head, but, with Jesus reclining in such a way,
the woman could probably not reach His head so she anointed His feet instead. The
men gathered there would have watched this emotional act in silence – a silence only
broken by Jesus Himself.

And when Jesus did speak, it was not to the woman but to Simon, His host, who now
doubted the fact that Jesus was a prophet (for surely a prophet would have realised
what sort of woman this was) and was watching in distaste. Jesus turned to him and
spoke to him directly and told him a parable showing that the more a person is forgiven
the greater the depth of their love for the one who forgives.

The two men in the parable owed debts to their creditor. One of them had a much
larger debt than the other. Yet the creditor forgave them both. Jesus asked Simon which
one of the two would have had the greater love for the creditor. Simon hesitated before
he answered – perhaps sensing the trap he was about to walk into. Simon had thought
Jesus was the one who did not see the woman for who she truly was. Now Jesus turns
the question on him, asking if he himself truly saw her – her love, her repentance, her
devotion to Him. Simon was blinded by her past and her reputation and could see no
further. Yet he, as Jesus’ host, had not offered Him the common courtesies of the day –
water for his feet, a kiss of greeting and an anointing of His head with oil. All these the
woman had given yet Simon criticised her for her actions.

She showed such great love to Jesus because her sins had been forgiven (probably on a
previous occasion). Now Jesus declared this forgiveness in public so even the guests
began to realise Jesus was more than just a prophet. Who was He that He was able to
forgive a person’s sins?

Jesus told her that her faith enabled her to accept the grace God had given to her as He
forgave her sins. Jesus did not want the woman to stay in her attitude of humble
repentance. He raised her up, recognised her love for Him, forgave her sin in public and
sent her away in peace.

How do you express your love for people:
✓ Acts of service
✓ Spending quality time together
✓ The giving of gifts
✓ Words of affirmation
✓ Physical touch?

How do you feel when someone expresses their love for you in the same way?
What does it do for you if they use another way to express their love? Have you
ever discussed this with your nearest and dearest? Why/why not? If you have,
did it lead to deeper understanding of each other? How?

• Who is Jesus in your life? How do you show what He means to you to the world?
• In an unscheduled situation, if someone stood up during a service and danced in
worship in the front of the church, or sang in tongues, or did anything else that is
not usually done at such a time to worship God in your church, how would you
react? How do you think the congregation would react? Would you ever do such a
thing yourself to show your love for God? Why/why not?
• How does your past limit your present and your future? Can you accept the
forgiveness God offers you for any sin you may have committed (you do not need
to share the specific sin you are thinking about). Can you forgive hurt done to you
in the past? How would it change who you are if you could divorce yourself from
the past and be the new person in Christ God plans for you to be?
• ‘Simon failed to exercise compassion’. He looked at the woman with contempt.
‘We do the same with the poor, addicts, beggars’. How would your opinion of such
people change if you were to see them with Jesus’ eyes?
• How would your opinion of yourself change if you saw yourself through His eyes?
• Would you describe yourself as self-sufficient? Or are you totally dependent on
Jesus in every aspect of your life?
• This week, how can you express the depth of your love for Jesus in a new way that
will take the same courage and determination the woman showed.
• How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this

Lord, grant us the courage we need to serve You with all we have. We want to express
our gratitude to You. Show us how we can do that, Lord, and walk with us as we do so.
May we see You in others – and may they see You in us.
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion
time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

As a follow up of how you can express the depth of your love for Jesus in a new way that
will take courage and determination, try to do this in the week ahead. How will you do
so? Share with the group what happened when you meet again.


Luke Chapter 7

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