My quiet time passage just now was from Luke 7:36-50. I have a lot of minor questions/observations.
- In verse 37, it says “there was a woman in the city who was a sinner”. This is odd. Isn’t everyone a sinner? Apparently Luke used the word to mean someone with a particularly shameful lifestyle, someone seen by the general Jewish public as “a sinner”. Interesting that he uses the word that way. We never would.
- In verse 39, the Pharisee says, “If this man were a prophet, he would know … who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” He just assumed that if Jesus knew she was a sinner He would send her away. I get really annoyed when people make judgmental assumptions like that. It’s hard to get them to listen to your response because they’ve already closed their mind to it. Jesus responded by telling him a parable, which is one good way around that, I guess.
- In imagining this scene, it’s hard to make sense of it if the woman was intruding in a private gathering, so I’m assuming the Pharisee had let a lot of townspeople in. That’s why he didn’t say, “what is she doing here?”, but rather “he must not realize who she is”. So I envision that Simon was sort of showing off his piety and wealth by inviting the rest of the town to come and see him act as host to the famous Jesus. Then when she showed up, he couldn’t really keep her out, he could only rely on the good sense of his guests to ostracize her somewhat.
- The whole passage is strange in that it keeps changing the order between forgiveness and love. The parable puts the forgiveness first, with the love a result of it. Verse 48-50 seem to be about love (as an expression of faith) leading to forgiveness. Verse 47a seems to put the love first and 47b the forgiveness first.
- Verse 50 is interesting, and it’s where I sense there is something meaty for me to think through. How were her actions an expression of faith in his forgiveness? The weeping might have been remorse for her sin, but it is interpreted by Jesus as an expression of love, not a cry of despair. I am sure she realized her deep need for forgiveness — she’d probably realized that her whole life — but I think the point here is that she’d became convinced of something no Pharisee had ever shown her before, that forgiveness was really available for her from this man. Were the tears even tears of gratefulness and joy, perhaps? I was looking at Psalm 32 the other day, and thinking about how hard it is sometimes to be really open with God about the things I’ve done wrong during the day. Not that I can keep anything from God, but that usually I don’t want to admit them to myself. This passage in Luke is interesting, because instead of focusing on the depth of our remorse, it focuses on our confidence that real forgiveness has been granted us in Jesus. It meshes well with Ps 32.