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Summary: The uninvited guest at the dinner. Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman.

Jesus, Simon and the sinful woman.

Writing between a.d. 64 to 68, Luke, “the beloved Physician” (Col. 4:14), traveling companion of Paul on his second and third missionary journeys (see ‘we’ passages: Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-16) and “fellow worker” with Paul (Phlm 24), spent time in Philippi encouraging and teaching the church there. Addressing Theophilus, most likely a fellow Gentile convert, Luke writes to give him accurate information about the life of Jesus and the Apostles (Acts) and create confidence in the truth of his former teaching (Luke 1:1-4). Maybe Theophilus was a convert from a society where sexual immorality abounded, and he would have had keen inter-est in Jesus’ attitude toward the outcast, like the sinful woman, and his forgiveness of her sin. It is not a stretch of the imagination to think of Theophilus as asking the questions: Would Jesus truly forgive my sins? Would he accept “sinful” worship or would he turn his attention to Simon? The division and conflict between Jewish and non-Jewish believers in the early church was a subject in which Theophilus needed instruction and assurance of his own acceptance and par-don.

Luke writes to Theophilus in order to present Jesus as the Savior and Liberator of all people. His gospel reflects a heart of compassion and tenderness toward all people (7:11; 19:41; 22:50). Luke alone includes the parable of the Good Samaritan, the compassionate half-Jew whose mercy puts the legalism of the Pharisees to shame (10:25-27). Also women are prominent in Luke from the birth narratives to the cross and to the resurrection accounts. He notes how Jesus receives the ministry of immoral, sick and desperate women as well as others who followed after him and how women lamented Jesus on the cross. Because of the cultural demeaning of women, Luke’s gospel is an emancipation proclamation for all women today as well as the women in the household of Theophilus.

Luke 7:44-48 is the compassionate personal conclusion of Jesus’ encounter with the sinful woman who anoints him. It also includes the powerful summary of his teaching and rebuke of Simon the Pharisee. It fits into the wider narrative of Luke 7:36-50, which includes the account of the anointing (vv. 36-39), an illustrating teaching example of two debtors (vv. 40-43), and the response of those attending the dinner (vv. 48-50). This passage comes after his proclamation at Nazareth fulfills Isaiah 61:1 concerning the Messianic delivery of the oppressed (Luke 4:18-20).

His Galilean ministry illustrates this fulfillment of his power over sickness (4:38-39), command over evil spirits (4:31-36), preaching the good news of the Kingdom (4:42-5:15), the raising of the dead (7:11-17) and healing of the servant of the Gentile centurion (7:1-10). Later, in Luke 7:18-34, Jesus reminds the delegation from John of its fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2 before their very eyes. The account of the anointing by the sinful woman illustrates further His liberation of those bound to sin and loosely parallels the account of the forgiveness of the paralytic (5:17-26). Here Luke pairs an example of a man and a woman to represent the complete salvation of all humanity Her eager, loving repentance was also an illustration of the seed which fell on fertile ground (8:15).

The passage is representative of Jesus’ mission to save all the lost, rather than simply the righteous: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (5:32). As illustrating Christ’s mission to save the oppressed, her status, as a woman, an outcast and possibly even a Gentile, highlights to Theophilus and modern readers the Lord’s universal mission. Quoting Isaiah 42:6, Simeon declared that Jesus would be “Light of revelation to the Gentiles.” Luke 2:32. Luke includes healing the servant of the Centurion (7:1-10), the healing of the Samaritan leper (17:11-19) and records the faithful acts of the widow of Zarephath (4:26), Naaman the leper (4:27), and the repentant Ninevites (11:29-32). He quotes Isaiah 40:5: “All flesh will see the salvation of God.” His gospel abounds with the accounts of the healing or conversion of society's outcasts: the woman with the issue of blood (8:40-48), the tax collector Zacchaeus (19:1-10), the ten lepers (17:11-21), women (7:11-17, 36-50; 13:10-17) and the hopeless demoniac (8:26-39).

Christ’s forgiveness and various penitents’ sincere repentance are emphasized in Luke. Having authority on earth to forgive sins (5:24), Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic (5:17-26). He forgives those who crucify him from the cross (23:34), and, as the resurrected Christ, he com-mands the disciples to preach “repentance for the forgiveness of sins….to all the nations” (24:47). The proper human response to the forgiveness of God is sincere repentance. Sent to call repentant sinners (5:2), Jesus declares: “Unless you repent you will likewise perish” (13:3, 5). Thus, the passage illustrates the nature of repentance through the loving anointing of the sinful woman. Its emotional tone is the same as the joyful willingness of Zacchaeus to make restitution for the wrongs he had done. (19:8).

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