Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 7:44-47 Forgiven

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, March 5, 2018

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. For my feet you gave me no water, but she showered my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  45 To me you gave no kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  46 For my head, you gave no oil, but she has poured perfume on my feet.

The Pharisee Simon had judged the woman as a sinner, but he had lost sight of the fact that all people are sinners; all people need the forgiveness of God. Jesus illustrates his point by calling attention to everything this woman was doing compared with the Pharisee’s failures. She had done so much, but he had done nothing at all. The Pharisee’s invitation to the meal isn’t mentioned because the invitation was a trap, but Jesus sidesteps this detail to focus on the other things that should have been done.

Almost everything the woman does is in the plural, and this is held up against Simon’s “nothings.” No water. No kiss of greeting. No oil. In Greek, Jesus places his feet, his face (for kissing), and his head, first in each phrase. He does this to emphasize that he is feet, etc., weren’t attended to by him at all but were lavished upon by her. The woman’s gifts are all multiple. “She showered my feet with her tears.” The word brecho (βρέχω) means “to rain, to shower.” She didn’t just let a couple of teardrops fall, but she gushed and wept, and it was as Augustine said, “like the blood of her heart.” She wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair (the Greek for hair, thryx, is always plural thrykes).

As for the oil, it was a catch-all for everything in their culture. It did the work of many things: lotion (as here), medicine, treatment for dry wood or dry anything, lubricant, and on both ends of meal preparation, used in the pan and on the salad and even brushed on the bread rolls the way we use butter. But the woman at Jesus’ feet had gone beyond mere olive oil. She had broken out (literally) her perfume, and used it on his feet, where its effects would last the shortest amount of time as soon as Jesus rose and walked away from the house.

47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

The woman showed that she knew that her many sins were forgiven. The word “forgive” here is apheontai (ἀϕέωνται), the perfect tense of aphiemi. The grammar of this word means that her sins were already “sent away,” far, far, away, and the result of that sending away meant that their guilt or condemnation would not return to her. She trusted in Jesus, and her sins were so far away that even God could not find them. This is a philosophical paradox, but since the Son of God is saying it, we need to let it stand. Let’s restate it so that we don’t miss its implications:

    Can God hide something so well that even he can’t find it?
    Yes. He has done this with my sins.

The point Jesus makes in the last sentence is not the reverse of her forgiveness. He does not say: “But your sins are not forgiven.” He says, “Someone who has been forgiven little loves little.” This is a warning. If I don’t think I have many sins, I’m not going to love God very much. I’m going to think that I belong in heaven because I’ve been so very good. But my opinion doesn’t matter even a little bit before God’s throne. What matters is the fact of my repentance and whether or not I trust in Jesus my Savior.

All people are sinners; all people need the forgiveness of God. And by the grace of God, we have his forgiveness. Cherish it, and show your love for God with the way you love the people in your life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



Browse Devotion Archive