Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen


A Sinful Woman Anoints Jesus


Jesus was very approachable, by all classes of people, as we shall see in today’s scripture lesson.  It is the story of the sinful woman who worshiped Him, at a dinner given in the home of a well-to-do Pharisee.  We have already read the scripture, so let’s look closely at what took place.  The story begins with these words,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.”  We have to imagine the guests arriving and Simon the Pharisee welcoming them with all the suitable courtesies; and embracing each and every one in turn.  Slaves were there to wash the dirt from their sandaled feet, and to pour sweet olive oil over their heads.  But there was one of the guests who was not treated with respect.  He was just a poor man, invited because His being there might prove to be entertaining to the other guests.  No kiss of welcome was offered to Him, and the slaves did not wait on him with the luxuries that were provided the other guests.  Jesus accepted the invitation, and came to the dinner, even though He knew the intentions of the one who invited Him.

There was at least one uninvited guest that evening, for we read, “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And 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.”   We do not know who she was, only that she was a gentile and a well-known sinner, familiar to all that were there as an immoral person and a prostitute.  She had been converted from her sinful life, at some point, by His preaching.  She brought an alabaster box of expensive ointment with her.  Christ was lying upon a bed or couch, as was the custom of the ancient Jews.  His feet were out behind him, and between the couch and the wall was the space where the servants waited.  It was there that the woman stood, unable to face Christ, weeping over her sins.  Her eyes had been the inlets and outlets of sin, and now she makes them fountains of tears.  Her face, which was at one time covered with make-up, was now smeared with tears.  There she melted down to her knees, with the love of Christ that was in her heart.  Her tears flooded down and began to wash His feet, as she bent to kiss them.  She had not brought a towel, so she wiped His feet with her hair.  To the Pharisee and his guests, this was a scandalous and repulsive spectacle, and despite the fact that none of them spoke up, we read, “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”  Simon thought, “Ah-Ha!  I have him now; He obviously knows nothing of the person that He is permitting to touch Him, and so He can’t be a prophet.”  Public opinion was that Jesus was a prophet, but Simon reasoned that Jesus did not have either the wisdom or holiness that a prophet should have.  He took it for granted that Christ did not know this woman personally, and that He did not know her character.  But Jesus knows the character of every man and woman.  He knew who the sinners were, and He knew that this woman was one, and that Simon was too.  He also knew what the Pharisees were thinking.  They thought of themselves as religious persons, and they wanted nothing to do with common people, particularly those with a bad character.  He knew that they believed that the touch of this woman would pollute them.  The Pharisees believed that if they touched the clothing of the common people, that they were corrupted, and for that reason, when they walked the streets, they walked on the sides, so that they wouldn’t be tarnished by the touch of the ordinary people.  They assumed that Christ should have had the same dislike for this woman that they had, and that He should snub her.

But Christ, who is also God, knew not only the character of the woman and that she had been converted, but He also knew the secret thoughts and reasoning’s of the Pharisees, and when He answered them, He showed that He was more than a Prophet.  And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.  Then Jesus gave this parable, “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”  Five Hundred pence, was about $70.00, and fifty pence about $7:00.  The debt of one was ten times that of the other.  To put this into the proper perspective, you need to know that one pence was what a common worker got paid for a day’s labor, so one man owed 500 and the other 50 days.  But make a note of the symbolism here, for in the parable the two debtors are like the woman and Simon, and the one to whom the debt is to be paid is God.  The law at this time permitted a man to take his debtors to court, and the outcome could be that the debtor, his wife and his children could be sold to pay the debt.  They would become slaves to their creditor or to another, but notice here that the man does not take them to court, but that he pardons their debt.  They both appreciated his great kindness that he showed them by forgiving their debt, but Jesus asked the Pharisee, which one of them would love him, the most.  What can we learn from this teaching of Our Lord?  I believe that there are several things here for us:

1.      That sin is a debt; and sinners are debtors to God Almighty.  God has a case that He can make against each of us for the injury that we have done to Him through sin and disobedience; and for the omission of our duty to Him, that is, for ignoring him and neglecting the prayer and praise that are due Him.

2.      That some are deeper in debt to God, because their sin is greater.  The Pharisee was the debtor that owed a lesser amount, but he was a debtor, just the same.  However, he did not think of himself as a debtor; but he believer that God was indebted to him because of his righteousness that came through good works.  This woman, who had been a scandalous, notorious sinner, was a great debtor.

3.      That whether our debt is more or less, it is more than we are able to pay.  Silver or gold will not pay our debt, neither will sacrifice and offering, and no righteousness of our own will pay it.  Our repentance and future obedience will not pay it, because that is what we are already obligated to do. 

4.      That the God of heaven is ready to forgive poor sinners upon the basis of the Gospel, even though their debt may be very great.  If we ask forgiveness and believe in Christ, our sins will not be the cause of our ruin.  God has made it known that He will be gracious and merciful, and ready to forgive sin, and His Son has purchased a pardon for all who repent and believe.  His Gospel promises forgiveness to us, and it is available too all.

5.      That those who have their sins forgiven, are obliged to love Him, and the more that is forgiven them, the more they should love Him.


Jesus had asked Simon, “Which of them will love him most”?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.  Simon’s words were more than an answer; they were a judgment as well, since by his answer, he without knowing it, pronounced judgment against himself.  It was obvious from his treatment of Jesus, that he did not love Him.  He did not believe that he was a sinner, and for that reason he did not need a Savior.  The woman, by contrast, loved God very much.  She had come to understand her great sinfulness, even though she did not yet know His forgiveness.  The Lord recognized that this woman loved Him, that she had faith, and that she understood who He was.  Her understanding, love and faith were not arrived at through reasoning, but she felt their effects in her heart, where she had a deep since of her own sin, humbleness, and love and devotedness to Him.  Everything showed, that in her heart, that she had the proper response toward God.

The woman stood behind Jesus, “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.  Jesus called Simon’s attention to the woman, and to what she had done, and then He made a comparison between her and Simon, so that he might mull over the preceding parable, and see how fittingly it could be applied to the present situation.  He had come to Simon’s house at his request and for that reason He might have expected the usual good manners.  He had not received any water, with which to wash his feet, which was a thoughtfulness that was very common in those countries, since they walked dusty roads, without stockings, and with only sandals.  It was a very refreshing courtesy, and was done for travelers, strangers and guests, and was typically performed by the servants of the house.  The woman had washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair, however Simon had not given Him water to wash with or a towel to dry with.

And then He went on to say, “Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.”  A kiss was the usual greeting in these middle-eastern countries.  Sometimes the hand was kissed and at times the cheek.  It looks as if Simon went out of his way to make a difference between Jesus and his other guests.  I believe that he greeted each one with a kiss, and that he made sure that his servants washed their feet and anointed their heads with oil, except he ignored Jesus, which was an expression of great disrespect.  Again, the disparity is clear; the woman had repeatedly kissed his feet, and she poured an expensive, fragrant ointment on His feet, instead of the common olive oil that Simon used.

This woman revealed by her actions of love, how very deeply she appreciated what she had received, but Jesus said this to Simon, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”  She was a greater debtor, than the Pharisee, but Jesus declared that her sins were forgiven.  Her love was the result, and not the cause of her forgiveness.  Our sins are not forgiven because we love God, but we love God, because they are forgiven.  There are people today, who like Simon, pass judgment on passionate Christians, because they themselves are not willing to come up to their level of loving obedience, but instead they opt to reside in cheap and easy religion.  In saying these things to Simon, He removed his objections and stopped his murmuring and complaining.  She had been a great sinner, but no longer, because now she was a pardoned sinner, and not the guilty and filthy creature he had imagined.  The guilt of all her sins was removed, and she was cleansed from all her filthiness.  She was like the greater debtor in the parable; though her sins were many, the whole score was made null and void.  Simon was like the lesser debtor in the parable, whose debts, in his own opinion, were few or none; at least ten times less than the woman’s, and he had no awareness of sin or desire for forgiveness.  He felt no obligation to Christ and for that reason he was very sparing with his love and respect, and even withheld the common courtesies that were owed to Jesus.

After that, Jesus directed his comments to the woman, who now stood before Him, “And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.”  He said it, to a certain extent, on account of the Pharisee, to let him know that He knew this woman, what she was now and had been; that she had been a great sinner, but she was now forgiven, and therefore she should not be shunned and avoided.  He said it partly on the woman’s account, so that she might have a new discovery of the forgiveness of her sins, and so that her faith might be made stronger.  And He also said it on his own account, to show that He was not only a prophet, but that He was also God, whose right it is to forgive sin.

The other guests had observed the actions of the woman, and had heard the conversation between Jesus and Simon, therefore we read, “And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?”  Their lack of knowledge of Him, who He was and His purpose in coming, made them question Him in their minds and they thought, “This so-called prophet is not content to just defy the traditions of the elders, by permitting a sinful woman to touch him, but now he takes upon Himself, something that only God can do, to forgive sins.”  This offended them, and they were filled with indignation toward Him, for what they believed was wicked and blasphemy.

But Jesus knowing their thoughts, refused to answer them, “And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”  This intense episode teaches some very great truths:

1.      Even though there are different degrees of guilt, one thing that is common to all men and all women is the inability to atone for sin.  Jesus has already atoned, or in other wards He has paid for our debt of sin, but the Bible says that we must do something-It says that we must believe in Jesus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned.” (John 3:16-18)

2.      That Christ is the Great Creditor to whom all debt, whether great or small, is owed, and to Him alone belongs the right and power to forgive sin.

3.      That there are those who have certain respectability, and so they do not display obvious sins that are condemned by the public, and they are not aware of their sin and need for forgiveness.

4.      That those who have wandered far enough from common decency to have received the world’s disapproval, appreciate most fully the goodness of God in forgiving them, and for that reason are moved to greater expressions of thankfulness and love, than are given by the self-righteous.

But we must not draw the conclusion that sin gives rise to love, and that, for that reason, sin is a good thing.  The blessing of salvation that we ask for from God is not proportional to the quantity of our sins, but it is proportional to the quantity of how aware we are of our sinfulness.  We all have sin enough to destroy our souls, but many of us fail to love God as we should, because we have an insufficient awareness of our sinfulness.  All those who admit that they are sinners, and confess their sin, and turn to Christ in faith and love, are received into the family of God.  Those who know that their faith has saved them may go in peace, may go on their way rejoicing, as this woman was to do.




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