Luke 7:36
And 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.
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(36) One of the Pharisees . . .—We may reasonably infer that this was one of the better class of Pharisees who had a certain measure of respect for our Lord’s teaching, and was half-inclined (comp. Luke 7:39) to acknowledge Him as a prophet. Of such St. John tells us (John 12:42) there were many among the chief rulers. We find another example of the same kind in Luke 11:37. Looking to the connection in which the narrative stands, it seems probable that the man was moved by the words that had just been spoken to show that he, at least, was among “the children of wisdom,” and did not take up the reproach—“a gluttonous man and a winebibber.” There is something very suggestive in our Lord’s accepting the invitation. He did not seek such feasts, but neither would He refuse them, for there too there might be an opening for doing His Father’s work.

And sat down to meat.—Literally, He lay down This was the usual position in the East (see Note on Matthew 26:20), and in this case we have to remember it in order to understand the narrative. We learn from Luke 7:49 that there were other guests present. The Pharisee had probably invited his “friends and rich neighbours,” and thought that he conferred an honour on the Prophet of Nazareth by asking Him to meet them.

Luke 7:36-38. And one of the Pharisees, &c. — When Jesus had finished the preceding observations on the ministry of John, the obstinacy of the scribes and Pharisees, and the conduct of all the true lovers of wisdom, a Pharisee named Simon, who, it seems, was a man of a better disposition than the generality of his sect, invited him to dinner. And he went into the Pharisee’s house — He accepted the invitation, and went with him; and sat down to meat — Without taking any notice of the omission of some usual ceremonies of respect, which so great a guest might well have expected. And behold a woman which was a sinner — This character given of her renders it probable that she had formerly been a harlot. But her conduct on this occasion proves that she was now awakened to a sense of her sin and folly. She is said to have lived in the city, namely, Capernaum, which is often described in that general way. It may be necessary to observe here, that the following is a very different story from that of Mary of Bethany anointing Christ’s head a little before his death. See Matthew 26:6, &c. Neither was this woman, as many have supposed, the person who, in the gospel, is called Mary Magdalene, an opinion for which there appears to be no reason, excepting that Mary Magdalene is mentioned by Luke in the next chapter, as our Lord’s attendant, and one out of whom he had cast seven devils. See note on Luke 8:2. When she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house — Probably she was acquainted at his house, for, it appears, she got easy access even into the room where the company was sitting; brought an alabaster box of ointment — With a design to testify her respect and reverence for Jesus, who had shown himself to be her compassionate Saviour. And stood at his feet behind weeping — Being come into the room, she placed herself behind Jesus, and from a deep conviction of her many sins, and of the obligations she lay under to him for bringing her to a sense of them, she shed tears in such abundance, that they trickled down on his feet, which were then bare. It must be observed, that neither the Jews nor Romans wore stockings, and as for their shoes or sandals, they always put them off when they took meat: for they did not sit on chairs at meals as we do, but lay on couches covered with stuffs, the quality whereof was suitable to the circumstances of the entertainer. On these couches they placed themselves on their sides, and supported their heads with one arm bent at the elbow, and resting on the couch; with the other they took their food, and were supported at the back by cushions. Their feet of course were accessible to one who came behind the couch. And began to wash (βρεχειν, to water)

his feet with tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head — We are not to imagine that she came with a purpose thus to wash and wipe the feet of Christ; but probably hearing that the Pharisee, who invited Jesus to dinner, had neglected the usual civility of anointing the head of his divine guest, she was willing to supply the defect, bringing for that purpose the alabaster box of ointment; and as she stood near Jesus she was so melted with his discourse, that she shed such a flood of tears as wetted his feet; and observing this, she wiped them with her hair, which she now wore flowing loose about her shoulders, as mourners commonly did; and then, not thinking herself worthy to anoint his head, poured out the liquid perfume on his feet, and thereby showed at once, both great love and great humility. In this view, all appears natural and unaffected. It is well known that long hair was esteemed a great ornament in the female dress, and women of loose character used to nourish and plait it, and to set it out with garlands and flowers.

7:36-50 None can truly perceive how precious Christ is, and the glory of the gospel, except the broken-hearted. But while they feel they cannot enough express self-abhorrence on account of sin, and admiration of his mercy, the self-sufficient will be disgusted, because the gospel encourages such repenting sinners. The Pharisee, instead of rejoicing in the tokens of the woman's repentance, confined his thoughts to her former bad character. But without free forgiveness none of us can escape the wrath to come; this our gracious Saviour has purchased with his blood, that he may freely bestow it on every one that believes in him. Christ, by a parable, forced Simon to acknowledge that the greater sinner this woman had been, the greater love she ought to show to Him when her sins were pardoned. Learn here, that sin is a debt; and all are sinners, are debtors to Almighty God. Some sinners are greater debtors; but whether our debt be more or less, it is more than we are able to pay. God is ready to forgive; and his Son having purchased pardon for those who believe in him, his gospel promises it to them, and his Spirit seals it to repenting sinners, and gives them the comfort. Let us keep far from the proud spirit of the Pharisee, simply depending upon and rejoicing in Christ alone, and so be prepared to obey him more zealously, and more strongly to recommend him unto all around us. The more we express our sorrow for sin, and our love to Christ, the clearer evidence we have of the forgiveness of our sins. What a wonderful change does grace make upon a sinner's heart and life, as well as upon his state before God, by the full remission of all his sins through faith in the Lord Jesus!One of the Pharisees - His name was Simon, Luke 7:10. Nothing more is known of him. It is not improbable, however, from what follows Luke 7:40-47, that he had been healed by the Saviour of some afflictive disease, and made this feast to show his gratitude.

Sat down to meat - The original word here means only that he placed himself or reclined at the table. The notion of "sitting" at meals is taken from modern customs, and was not practiced by the Jews. See the notes at Matthew 23:6.

Meat - Supper. Food of any kind. Sat down to eat.

Lu 7:36-50. Christ's Feet Washed with Tears. This was no small civility from a Pharisee, for the Pharisees were of all others, in the generality of them, the most desperate and implacable enemies of our Saviour. But God hath his number amongst all nations, and all sorts and orders of men. Our Saviour, as was said before, was of a free and open converse, and never refused any opportunity offered him to do good. We may soberly eat and drink with sinners pursuing such designs.

And one of the Pharisees,.... Whose name was Simon, Luke 7:40

Desired that he would eat with him; take a meal with him, either a dinner or a supper: this he did under a disguise of respect, and show of affection to him; though very likely with a design upon him to ensnare him, or take some advantage against him if he could; for it is certain, that he did not treat him with those civilities and ceremonies commonly used to guests; see Luke 7:44.

And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat: he made no hesitation about it, but at once accepted of his invitation, though he knew both the man and his intentions; having nothing to fear from him, and being willing to carry it courteously to all men, and give proof of what he had just now said of himself, Luke 7:34.

{6} And 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.

(6) Proud men deprive themselves of the benefits of the presence of Christ, even when he is at home with them in their houses; and these benefits the humble and base enjoy.

Luke 7:36. This narrative of the anointing is distinct from that given in Matthew 26:6 ff.; Mark 14:3 ff.; John 12:1 ff. See on Matthew 26:6. The supposition that there was only one incident of the kind, can be indulged only at Luke’s expense. He must either himself have put aside the actual circumstances, and have added new circumstances (Hug, Gutacht. II. p. 98), which is in itself quite improbable, or he must have followed a tradition which had transferred the later incident into an earlier period; comp. Ewald, Bleek, Holtzmann, Schenkel, Weizsäcker; Schleiermacher also, according to whom Luke must have adopted a distorted narrative; and Hilgenfeld, according to whom he must have remodelled the older narrative on a Pauline basis. But the accounts of Mark and Matthew presuppose a tradition so constant as to time and place, that the supposed erroneous (John 12:1 ff.) dislocation of the tradition, conjoined with free remodelling, as well as its preference on the part of Luke, can commend itself only less than the hypothesis that he is relating an anointing which actually occurred earlier, and, on the other hand, has passed over the similar subsequent incident; hence it is the less to be conceived that Simon could have been the husband of Martha (Heugstenberg). Notwithstanding the fact that the rest of the evangelists relate an anointing, Baur has taken our narrative as an allegorical poem (see his Evang. p. 501), which, according to him, has its parallel in the section concerning the woman taken in adultery. Strauss sought to confuse together the two narratives of anointing and the account of the woman taken in adultery. According to Eichthal, II. p. 252, the narrative is an interpolation, and that the most pernicious of all from a moral point of view!

Luke 7:36-50. The sinful woman. This section, peculiar to Lk., one of the golden evangelic incidents we owe to him, is introduced here with much tact, as it serves to illustrate how Jesus came to be called the friend of publicans and sinners, and to be calumniated as such, and at the same time to show the true nature of the relations He sustained to these classes. It serves further to exhibit Jesus as One whose genial, gracious spirit could bridge gulfs of social cleavage, and make Him the friend, not of one class only, but of all classes, the friend of man, not merely of the degraded. Lk. would not have his readers imagine that Jesus dined only with such people as He met in Levi’s house. In Lk.’s pages Jesus dines with Pharisees also, here and on two other occasions. This is a distinctive feature in his portraiture of Jesus, characteristic of his irenical cosmopolitan disposition. It has often been maintained that this narrative is simply the story of Mary of Bethany remodelled so as to teach new lessons. But, as will appear, there are original features in it which, even in the judgment of Holtzmann (H. C.), make it probable that two incidents of the kind occurred.

36-39. Jesus in the House of Simon.

. one of the Pharisees] This exquisite narrative is peculiar to St Luke, and well illustrates that conception of the universality and free gift of grace which predominates in his Gospel as in St Paul. To identify this Simon with Simon the Leper in Mark 14:3 is quite arbitrary. It was one of the commonest Jewish names. There were two Simons among the Twelve, and there are nine Simons mentioned in the New Testament alone, and twenty in Josephus. There must therefore have been thousands of Simons in Palestine, where names were few. The incident itself was one which might have happened frequently, being in close accordance with the customs of the time and country. And with the uncritical attempt to identify Simon the Pharisee with Simon the Leper, there also falls to the ground the utterly improbable identification of the woman who was a sinner with Mary of Bethany. The time, the place, the circumstances, the character, the words uttered, and the results of the incident recorded in Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3; John 12:3 are all entirely different.

that he would eat with him] The invitation was clearly due to a patronising curiosity, if not to a worse and hostile motive. The whole manner of the Pharisee to Jesus was like his invitation, ungracious. But it was part of our Lord’s mission freely to accept the proffered hospitality of all, that He might reach every class.

sat down to meat] Rather, reclined at table. The old method of the Jews had been that of the East in general, to sit at table (anapiptein, Luke 11:37; anakeisthai, Luke 7:37; anaklinesthai, Luke 12:37) generally cross-legged on the floor, or on divans (Genesis 27:19; 1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Samuel 20:18; Psalm 128:3; Song of Solomon 1:12, &c.). They had borrowed the custom of reclining on couches (triclinia, comp. ἀρχιτρίκλινος, John 2:8) from the Persians (Esther 1:6; Esther 7:8), the Greeks and Romans, after the Exile (Tob 2:1; 1Es 4:10; Jdt 12:15). The influence of the Greeks had been felt in the nation for three hundred years, and that of the Romans for nearly a hundred years, since the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey, B. C. 63.

Luke 7:36. Ἀνεκλίθη, He lay down (sat down) to meat) without having first taken a look at the house, as guests given to curiosity are wont; also without having taken water or oil, Luke 7:44 (comp. ch. Luke 11:37), so as to admit (receive) to Himself the penitent woman the sooner, Luke 7:45.

Verses 36-50. - The nameless woman who was a sinner, and Simon the-Pharisee. As regards the incident about to be told, some commentators have believed that the anointing was identical with that related by St. John as having taken place at Bethany very shortly before the Crucifixion. Without detailing the several points of difference in the two recitals, it will be sufficient surely to call attention to the character of the Bethany family, Lazarus and his sisters, the intimate friends of Jesus, to show how monstrous it would be to attempt to connect the poor soul who followed the Master to Simon's house with the sweet Mary of Bethany. A widely spread and, in the Western Church, a very generally received tradition identifies this woman with Mary of Magdala - the Mary Magdalene mentioned in Luke 9:2, and again after the Crucifixion, in company with the band of holy women (Luke 24:10). Out of Mary Magdalene, we learn, had been cast seven devils. This, however, gives us no clue to identify the two; rather the contrary. It is scarcely likely that the apparently well-known courtesan of the touching story was a demoniac. The earliest writers say nothing respecting the identity of the two. Gregory the Great, however, stamped the theory with his direct assertion, and that the Western Church generally accepted the identification of the two is clear from the selection of this narrative of St. Luke as the portion of Scripture appointed for the Gospel for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (this was one of the feasts omitted by the English Reformers from the calendar of the Prayer-book of 1552). It is impossible to decide the question positively. One modern commentator of distinction quaintly pleads for Gregory the Great's rather arbitrary theory, by suggesting that there is no sufficient reason to disturb the ancient Christian belief which has been consecrated in so many glorious works of art; but, in spite of this, the opinion which considers "the woman which was a sinner" the same person as "the Magdalene," is really based on Little else than on a mediaeval tradition. St. Luke alone relates this touching story. We can conceive the joy of Paul when this "memory of the Master" came across him. It so admirably illustrates what this great teacher felt was his Master's mind on the all-important subject - the freeness and universality of salvation. It seems likely enough that Dean Plumptre's interesting conjecture respecting this scene in the Pharisee Simon's house is correct. "Occurring, as the narrative does, in St. Luke only, it is probable enough that the 'woman which was a sinner' became known to the company of devout women named in the following chapter (Luke 8:1-3), and that the evangelist derived his knowledge of the fact from them. His reticence - probably their reticence - as to the name was, under the circumstances, at once natural and considerate." No special note of time or of the locality is appended. If this sinner was one and the same with the Magdalene, then the city implied is certainly Magdala, the modern mud village of El-Mejdel, but at that time a populous wealthy town on the Lake of Galilee. If, as we believe, the two were not identical, the city is most probably Capernaum, the usual residence of our Lord. Verse 36. - And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house. Up to this period the relations between our Lord and the dominant parties in the capital had not reached a state of positive hostility. The Pharisees, as the chief among these parties in the state, had taken the initiative, and were sharply watching One whose influence among the people they more than suspected was hostile to them. But they had not as yet declared him a public enemy and blasphemer. This wealthy Pharisee, Simon, was evidently, like others of his sect at this time, Wavering in his estimate of Jesus. On the one hand, he was naturally influenced by the hostile views entertained at head-quarters concerning the Galilaean Teacher; on the other, personal intercourse with the Master, the acts he had witnessed, and the words he had heard, disposed him to a reverential admiration. Simon evidently (ver. 39) had not made up his mind whether or not Jesus was a Prophet. His soul, too - this we gather from ver. 42 - had received some great spiritual good from his intercourse with the Master. But though he invited him to be a guest at his house, and evidently loved him (ver. 47) a little, still he received his Divine Guest with but a chilling and coldly courteous reception. Not unlikely Simon the Pharisee knew he was watched that day, and that among his guests were men who would report every action of his on that occasion to the leaders of his party in Jerusalem. His cold courtesy, almost lack of courtesy, towards the Master was thus probably the result of his fear of man and of man's judgment. And sat down to meat; literally, reclined. The Jews at that time followed in their repasts the Greek (or Roman) custom of reclining on couches; the guest lay with his elbows on the table, and his feet, unsandalled, stretched out on the couch. Luke 7:36
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