Express Gratitude to Jesus

Explore the Bible Series

October 17, 2004


Background Passage: Luke 7:1-50

Lesson Passage: Luke 7:36-50


Introduction: The seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke records the continued self-revelation of the Lord Jesus.The chapter contains four stories that provide invaluable insights into the Lordís person and work.

  1. (vv.1-10) Christís concern for the Gentiles:When Jesus entered the city of Capernaum, a certain centurion requested the Masterís help.A beloved servant had fallen ill, and it appeared he soon would die. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the servant was paralyzed and in dreadful pain. This centurion possessed extraordinary character traits.For instance, note the compassion he had for his beloved servant.Romans often saw their slaves as expendable possessions.This man, however, took pity on his suffering servant and sought the Masterís help.Furthermore, observe the centurionís respect for the Jewish faith.He did not send Gentile servants to entreat the Lordís aid; rather, he persuaded the elders of the Jews to plead his case to Jesus. This action, no doubt, required great humility on the part of this important Roman official. Above all, Christ found this manís faith most noteworthy. Jesus said that the centurionís faith superceded that which the Savior had found in Israel
  2. (vv. 11-17) Christís power over death:Only Luke recorded this story of the raising of the widowís son. The apostolic band went to the small village of Nain, not far from Capernaum.A widow had lost a son, and Jesus encountered the funeral procession as he entered the city gates.No doubt, the hired mourners, so common to Mid-eastern culture of this period, drew attention to the widowís misery. Jesus had compassion for this distraught mother, and raised her son from the dead.Again, Jesusí actions startled the crowds. The Master took interest in a widow woman and demonstrated an amazing power that could raise the dead.
  3. (vv. 18-35)Christís ministry to a doubting prophet: Herod Antipas imprisoned John, and the faithful prophet, apparently experiencing a period of suffocating doubt, sent messengers to Jesus to reassure his heart that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The ever-patient Jesus provided the affirmation poor John needed. The Lord expressed no irritation at the report of Johnís questions concerning the Masterís identity.Instead, he patiently provided convincing evidence that he was indeed the Promised One.
  4. (vv. 36-50) Christís ministry to a sinful woman:Finally, this wonderful chapter ends with the story of the Saviorís gracious forgiveness to a sinful woman.This weekís lesson focuses on the account of the Lordís great mercy to an unnamed woman.





I.                   The Occasion of Christís Mercy to the Sinful Woman (Luke 7:36-38)

A.     Simonís home:ďSimonĒ was common name among first-century Jews.This man was a Pharisee, and the rest of the New Testament gives no additional insight into his identity.He invited Jesus to eat at his home, and the Lord, having accepted the invitation, reclined at the dinner table with this Jewish religious leader and a host of guests.The Scriptures do not reveal the Phariseeís motive for asking Jesus to the meal, but the text seems to indicate that he was not a believer. His self-righteous condescension toward a sinful woman reveals an arrogant, willful heart that had yet not come to realize what it means to see oneself as a sinner before God.

B.     The womanís loving gesture:The Scriptures give no indication of this womanís identity except to point out that she had a reputation as a notorious sinner. The assumption that she was a prostitute presumes on the text.She was a sinner.The Bible gives no further indication of the nature of her transgression.Apparently, the woman had recently come to faith in Christ, and her affection for the Savior drove her to this noteworthy and extravagant expression of her thanksgiving and love.She anointed Jesus with fragrant and expensive oil and bathed the Lordís feet with her tears and hair. These actions, of course, were extraordinary; yet, Jesus did not recoil from her demonstrative gratitude and adoration.He received and affirmed the adoration of the sinful woman.


Notice the boldness of this woman.The Lord had shown her great mercy, and she came boldly and unreservedly to worship the Savior.Repentant sinners do not need to be tricked, cajoled, or coerced to come freely and willingly to Christ.The regenerate heart rises to any opportunity to glorify the Lord. This forgiven woman cared little for the rejection and judgments of the pharisaical crowd. She performed her noteworthy act of adoration for a single audience, the Lord Jesus.


II.                The Lordís Confrontation with the Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:39-47)

A.     The judgmental impulse of Simonís heart (vv. 39):Notice that Jesus apparently had complete access to the thoughts of Simon.The impulse of Simonís heart was to judge this woman and draw negative conclusions about the person of Jesus.

B.     The Lordís challenge to the self-righteous Pharisee (vv. 40-43):Jesus challenged Simon with a simple parable.Two men owed a significant debt to wealthy lender.One borrower owed fifty denarii, and the other man owed five thousand.A common laborer typically earned a denarius a day; so, both men owed a significant sum, and both debtors found themselves unable to pay their debt.The gracious lender forgave the staggering debts.Jesus asked Simon which former debtor would evidence the greatest gratitude.Even Simon the Pharisee, though blinded by his own self-righteousness, could see the implication of Jesusí story.

C.     Jesusí sharp rebuke of Simon (vv. 44-47): Luke recorded an interesting detail to this intense situation.The Lord turned his gaze to the woman, but he continued to rebuke Simon.He confronted Simon with the following issues.

1.      He called Simonís attention to the woman. He asked, ďDo you see this woman?ĒWhat a remarkable diagnostic question!This self-righteous Pharisee had failed to really ďseeĒ this woman.Religious people often, it seems, simply remove the world from their field of vision.They insulate themselves in such a way that they do not see sinners.Perhaps this impulse arises from a fear of self-discovery.As long as the woman remained out of his field vision, the Pharisee could ignore his own spiritual debt.

2.      He alerted Simon to the womanís love.Simon did not wash the Lordís feet, greet the Master affectionately, or anoint the Lordís head with oil.The sinful woman did all of these things with profound affection and devotion to Christ.She saw herself as a person who needed great measures of forgiveness, but Simon evidenced little awareness of his need for the Lordís mercies.



All desire to see among Christians, more good works, more self-denial, more practical obedience to Christís commands. But what will produce these things?Nothing, nothing but love.There will never be more done for Christ till there is more hearty love to Christ himself.The fear of punishment, the desire for rewards, the sense of duty, are all useful arguments, in their way, to persuade men to holiness.But they are all weak and powerless, until a man loves Christ.Once let that mighty principle get hold of man, and you will see his whole life change.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††J.C. Ryle



Questions for Thought and Discussion:

1.      How has the Lord bestowed his mercy on you, and what response did his grace produce in your life?

2.      In what ways can you express your loving thanksgiving for the Lordís goodness to you?

3.      What does this story tell believers about the proper spirit of worship?

4.      What areas of self-righteousness would Christ rebuke in you?