The Woman that was a Sinner
Luke 7:36-50
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.

Here are two silver bells, let us ring them; their notes are heavenly — O for ears to hear their rich, clear melody! The first note is " grace," and the second tone is "love."

I. GRACE, the most costly of spikenard: this story literally drips with it, like those Oriental trees which bleed perfume.

1. First, grace is here glorified in its object. She was "a sinner" — a sinner not in the flippant, unmeaning, every-day sense of the term, but a sinner in the blacker, filthier, and more obnoxious sense. Grace has pitched upon the most unlikely cases in order to show itself to be grace; it has found a dwelling-place for itself in the most unworthy heart, that its freeness might be the better seen.

2. Grace is greatly magnified in its fruits. Who would have thought that a woman who had yielded her members to be servants of unrighteousness, to her shame and confusion, should have now become, what if I call her a maid of honour to the King of kings? — one of Christ's most favoured servitors? This woman, apart from grace, had remained black and defiled still to her dying day, but the grace of God wrought a wondrous transformation, removing the impudence of her face, the flattery from her lips, the finery from her dress, and the lust from her heart. Eyes which were full of adultery, were now founts of repentance; lips which were doors of lascivious speech, now yield holy kisses — the profligate was a penitent, the castaway a new creature. All the actions which are attributed to this woman illustrate the transforming power of Divine grace. Note the woman's humility. She had once possessed a brazen face, and knew no bashfulness, but now she stands behind the Saviour.

3. I would have you remark, in the third place, that grace is seen by attentive eyes in our Lord's acceptance of what this chosen vessel had to bring. Jesus knew her sin. Oh, that Jesus should ever accept anything of me, that He should be willing to accept my tears, willing to receive my prayers and my praises!

4. Further, grace is displayed in this narrative when you see our Lord Jesus Christ become the defender of the penitent. Everywhere grace is the object of human cavil: men snap at it like evening wolves. Some object to grace in its perpetuity, they struggle against persevering grace; but others, like this Simon, struggle against the bounty of grace.

5. Once more, my brethren, the grace of God is seen in this narrative in the bestowal of yet richer favours. Great grace saved her, rich grace encouraged her, unbounded grace gave her a Divine assurance of forgiveness. "Go in peace."

II. Love.

1. Its source. There is no such thing as mere natural love to God. The only true love which can burn in the human breast towards the Lord, is that which the Holy Ghost Himself kindles.

2. Its secondary cause is faith. The fiftieth verse tells us, "Thy faith hath saved thee." Our souls do not begin with loving Christ, but the first lesson is to trust. Many penitents attempt this difficult task; they aspire to reach the stair-head without treading the steps; they would needs be at the pinnacle of the temple before they have crossed the threshold. Grace is the source of love, but faith is the agent by which love is brought to us.

3. The food of love is a sense of sin, and a grateful sense of forgiveness. The service this woman rendered to our Lord was perfectly voluntary. No one suggested it, much less pressed it upon her. Her service to Jesus was personal. She did it all herself, and all to Him. Do you notice how many times the pronoun occurs in our text? " She stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment." She served Christ Himself. Forgetfulness of the personality of Christ takes away the very vitality of our religion. How much better will you teach, this afternoon, in your Sabbath-school class, if you teach your children for Christ! The woman's service showed her love in that it was fervent. There was so much affection in it — nothing conventional; no following chilly propriety, no hesitating inquiry for precedents. Why did she kiss His feet? Was it not a superfluity? O for more of this guileless piety, which hurls decorum and regulation to the winds. This woman's love is a lesson to us in the opportunity which she seized.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: One of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him. He entered into the Pharisee's house, and sat at the table.

The Woman that was a Sinner
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