The Book of Luke
James J. Barker
THE UNBELIEVING PHARISEES
- The Pharisees rejected the ministry and the preaching of John the Baptist, and they refused to submit to his baptism (7:29, 30).
- Having "rejected the counsel of God against themselves" (7:30), they nullified or frustrated God's purpose for them as the religious leaders of Israel.
- Our Lord rebuked them for their unbelief, and compared them to silly children "sitting in the marketplace" (7:31, 32). They were unhappy playing at a wedding ("We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced") or at a funeral ("we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept").
- Our Lord's rebuke was "solemn, searching, even scathing" (W.H. Griffith Thomas, Outline Studies in Luke).
- Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees and scribes in Mark 7, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition... Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye" (Mark 7:9, 13).
- "Making the word of God of none effect" means, "making void the word of God."
- "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine..." (Luke 7:33). John was an ascetic, and he preached hard against sin. He called the Pharisees a "generation of vipers" (Luke 3:7).
- John the Baptist rubbed them the wrong way, so they said, "He hath a devil" (Luke 7:33).
- It should be noted that our Lord also called the Pharisees a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 12:34; 23:33). And they also accused Him of having a devil (Matt. 10:25; John 7:20; 8:48).
- And because our Lord mixed freely with the people, the Pharisees falsely accused Him of being a "gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" (7:34).
- The latter part of that accusation was true, but the first part was slanderous.
- To summarize: the Pharisees accused John the Baptist of being too strict, and they accused our Lord of not being strict enough. They were like little children who did not know what they wanted (7:31-35).
- There are some Christians like that today. They criticize one preacher for preaching too hard, and another for not preaching hard. One preacher is too deep; the next is too shallow, etc.
- Over 100 years ago, C.H. Spurgeon said, "If we will not hear one preacher, we may soon find ourselves quite weary of a second and a third, and before long it may come to pass that we cannot hear any minister to profit."
- "But wisdom is justified ("proved right" -- cf. verse 29) of all her children" or "by all her children" (7:35). Whether by the preaching of John the Baptist, or by the preaching of our Lord Himself, or by the preaching and soulwinning work of any Christian -- "wisdom is justified of all her children."
- Wisdom is proven right by the wise -- "he that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30b). It is wise to heed God's call.
- After this, "one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat" (7:36). In verse 40, we are told the Pharisee's name was Simon.
- THE REPENTANT SINNER
- THE CRITICAL PHARISEE
- THE FORGIVING SAVIOUR
THE REPENTANT SINNER (7:36-38)
- This woman is not identified by name (7:37). Strong's Concordance says the Greek word translated "sinner" (7:37) means, "devoted to sin, pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked."
- The Scofield Study Bible says, "in the sense of unchaste" (margin).
- The implication here is that she was a harlot (cf. 7:39, 47).
- Some people believe this sinful woman was Mary Magdalene, but there is no Biblical basis for this. In fact, Mary Magdalene is introduced as a new character in the next chapter (8:2).
- Some have confused this woman with Mary of Bethany, which is very strange (and disturbing) since Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, was a virtuous woman, and certainly not a harlot.
- It was not unusual in that day for uninvited guests to walk into peoples' homes. A.T. Robertson said, "She came in by a curious custom of the time that allowed strangers to enter a house uninvited at a feast, especially beggars seeking a gift" (Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament).
- Though this was customary in that day, Jewish rabbis would not talk to women in public, nor eat with them in public -- especially a sinful woman with a bad reputation (7:36, 37).
- This woman gave evidence of genuine repentance and saving faith -- her seeking after Jesus, her humble attitude, and her expensive gift of ointment (7:37, 38, 44-50).
THE CRITICAL PHARISEE (7:39-43)
- Simon the Pharisee had heard reports about Jesus (cf. 7:17). Perhaps he thought of Jesus as "a great prophet" (cf. 7:16). But now Simon was bothered by the fact that our Lord allowed this sinful woman to anoint him with oil (7:39). He thought that a true prophet would never allow that to happen.
- Simon "spake within himself" (7:39), but our Lord -- being omniscient -- knew his thoughts, and told him a simple parable (7:41, 42).
- In many ways, Simon was a typical Pharisee. He recognized that this woman was a sinner, but he did not see himself as a sinner (cf. Luke 18:9-14).
- In Luke 12:1, our Lord said, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
- Unlike Simon, this immoral woman acknowledged her sin, and worshipped our Lord. Therefore, she was forgiven (7:47-50).
- But Simon was proud and spiritually blind. Therefore he would not repent and remained unforgiven and unsaved.
- The woman loved Jesus, and demonstrated her love in a wonderful way. But Simon showed no love or even basic hospitality toward our Lord (7:44-46).
- Consider the contrast between Simon, the self-righteous "respectable sinner," and this immoral woman who repented and was gloriously saved.
- Simon was proud, selfish, cold, neglectful, even impolite (7:44, 45). The woman was repentant ("weeping" -- vs. 38), generous, devoted, and grateful.
- Simon thought this woman's access to Christ was due to ignorance on the part of Jesus (7:39). It never crossed his mind that it was not ignorance, but compassion on the part of Christ!
- Simon did not realize his heart was hardened by pride. On the other hand, the woman's heart was softened by love (7:44-46).
- Simon's heart was so hard, that when our Lord asked him, "Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?" (7:42), Simon could not see the personal application. There was no conviction of sin.
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said, "How many are like Simon! Respectable, well-to-do, cultivated, even orthodox. Too refined to be vicious -- of too good taste to be wholly worldly -- but nevertheless, lost sinners."
- Like the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18, we have here a contrast between reality and unreality in religion.
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said our Lord's severest words are directed not against the gross sins of the flesh, which are "avoided and condemned by respectable people, but against sins of insincerity and uncharitableness, which are far greater moral perils. Cold-hearted selfishness (is the) most terrible defect in human nature."
- It is repentance, not pride, that leads to forgiveness and salvation. Or as a preacher put it: "Penitence, not Pride, leads to Pardon" (Thomas).
THE FORGIVING SAVIOUR
- Here is another contrast: toward the respectable, hypocritical sinner our Lord is solemn, searching, and stern in His condemnation. To the repentant sinner, Christ is sympathetic, tender, compassionate and forgiving.
- Our Lord's message here -- the measure of forgiveness is also the measure of love (7:41-43, 47, 48).
- Verse 50 says, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
- Her love did not save her. Her faith produced love.
- Her good works did not save her.
- Her works and worship were evidence of her faith (cf. Scofield, bottom of page 1083).
- Faith produced love, and love produced service. Love always finds ways of service and surrender.
- Apparently there were several Pharisees at this dinner, because verse 49 says, "And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?"
- This was a bone of contention with the Pharisees (cf. Luke 5:18-26).
- The Pharisees insisted that only God can forgive sins. In this they were absolutely correct. Where they were wrong was in refusing to believe that Jesus was God.
Our Lord told the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
"Go in peace," the Lord hath
Hast thou faith? That faith
Not one word of His is broken,
Not one promise ever
Pardon He hath freely given;
Fear not; all is well with
Sin is gone, and bonds are
Jesus says so; thou art
Saved through faith! Believe it, live
Do not doubt thy soul's
It's His word; all honor give
Jesus saves thee -- "Go in peace."
Frank. P. Britt