A PHARISEE'S IGNORANCE OF JESUS' DEITY

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    [Luke:7:36-50].

    Lesson No.: 
    43
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "For every one that asketh recei-veth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:8).

    Cross References: 

    I The Anointing of Jesus in a Pharisee's House
    1. The Pharisee invites Jesus to his house and Jesus responds, [Luke:7:36]; [Luke:5:27-32]; [Revelation:3:20].
    2. A woman, who was a penitent sinner and not a guest at the feast, came to worship Jesus, [Luke:7:37]; [Luke:19:2-3].
    3. Taking a lowly place behind the Saviour, she gave evidence of deep contrition, [Luke:7:38]; [Psalms:34:18]; [Psalms:51:17]; [2 Corinthians:7:10].

    II The Unbelieving Pharisee and the Parable of the Debtors
    1. The self-righteous Pharisee, ignorant of the deity of Jesus, perhaps thought he was doing Jesus a favour, considering Him an inferior, [Luke:7:39-40].
    2. The Pharisee correctly answers Jesus' questions about the debtors, [Luke:7:41-43].

    III The Saviour's Rebuke to the Pharisee, and Christ's Pardon of the Sinner
    1. Jesus rebukes His host for failure in showing common courtesies, [Luke:7:44-46]; [1 Peter:3:8].
    2. The woman, in her penitence, unwittingly supplied the Pharisee's lack of hospitality, [Luke:7:44-46]; [Romans:13:10].
    3. Christ gives pardon and peace to a hungering soul, [Luke:7:47-48], [Luke:7:50].
    4. Not only the host but the other guests as well were ignorant of Christ's deity and authority, [Luke:7:7:49]; [Mark:2:10-11].
    5. Jesus reveals why the woman was forgiven and the others were not, [Luke:7:7:50]; [John:3:14-21]; [Romans:10:9]; [1 John:5:1].

    Notes: 

    Where, in all the realm of literature, can a person find a story that has the equal of the touching episode with which our lesson deals? This woman, who came to Jesus as He dined in the home of the Pharisee, was a sinner who longed for relief from a heart and conscience made heavy with remorse and sorrow. She took the right course to rid herself of that torment -- she came to Jesus. How few people in the world follow her example! And how few find the rest and peace that she found!

    In the first place we see Jesus at the festive table, reclining on His side (on a couch, as was the custom in those days), with His feet behind Him. The streets and roads were dusty; and a good host always provided water for a guest to wash his feet, along with a welcome befitting the personage being entertained. But Simon, the Pharisee, did none of this. He apparently was curious to know what kind of person Jesus was; but, by his attitude of neglect, he proved that he did not regard Jesus as a particularly important guest. He probably thought that it would not matter, on this occasion, if some of the customary courtesies went by default. "After all," he might have said, "he is only from Nazareth and they are not acquainted with the better ways of living that we are accustomed to in our city.

    But God will be glorified and honoured in the hearts of men. If some who have great opportunities do not follow Him, others, with far fewer natural qualifications, will do so. Simon missed a great opportunity, but this poor woman took advantage of an opportunity! She came in and stood behind Him, her sins troubling her. She began to weep with sorrow for her sin; and as she did so, her tears fell on the feet of the blessed Son of God.

    One can almost see her, finally blinded by a rush of tears, falling to her knees, embracing the feet, which were to be pierced with cruel nails for her pardon and cleansing. She realised the impropriety of her intrusion and, as though she would also repent and atone for it, began to wipe His feet with her hair, kissing them as she did so. It has been pointed out that she brought her womanly glory and laid it at the feet of Jesus by doing this. The original language gives us a deeper and richer insight into this impressive scene. The literal rendering tells us that she kissed Jesus’ feet not once, but again and again. When this part of her act of contrition was over she opened the earthen box of ointment she had brought with her, and, taking its contents, anointed her Lord and Saviour.

    Simon saw the whole act and began to reason that if Jesus were even so much as a prophet He would have known that this woman was a sinner of the deepest dye and unworthy of performing any act of kindness or courtesy upon a respectable person. Simon did what the great majority of professing Christians are doing in one way or another today. He doubted that Jesus was the Christ. He denied the divinity of our Lord. He believed the spotless Lamb of God was only a man of no appreciably greater standing than himself. He did not even give Jesus the credit for having ordinary human discernment of people's character.

    But Jesus "heard" that proud Pharisee thinking, because God can see the real condition of the heart of man, and nothing is hid from His searching eye. To show this man his true condition, Jesus spoke a parable about two debtors whose debts were forgiven. When asked a question regarding the debt of gratitude these forgiven men owed their former creditor, Simon answered correctly and thereby brought condemnation upon his own head.

    Simon, armed with self-complacency, was not conscious that he needed to be saved from anything. He was filled with his own self-righteousness; consequently he had little love to give to the Master. But the woman, steeped in sin and guilt, knew that she needed help no ordinary man could give; so she came to Jesus -- repented, believed, was saved, and showed her gratitude by performing courtesies of the household to the neglected Guest. Someone has said that true courtesy springs out of a heart filled with love for all mankind. But only God can give that love! The demonstration of this poor woman's love shows, beyond all doubt, her change of heart.

    Jesus spoke wonderfully reassuring words to this -- and every other -- penitent soul. "Thy sins are forgiven. . . . Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." She puts us to shame with her penitence and humility, but she showed a far more wonderful quality than these. She possessed a faith that the Pharisee or any of the other guests at the meal did not have. She demonstrated the truth of the then unwritten words that "whosoever believeth" in Christ shall have everlasting life. The unbelieving Pharisees murmured, but the believing penitent rejoiced! Everyone present at that feast had the same opportunities of salvation; but she alone, as far as we are told, received the promise of that "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, . . . that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for all who come repenting and believing.

    Questions: 

    1. What purpose did Jesus have in accepting this invitation?
    2. What was the obvious condition of this woman's heart when she stood behind Jesus at the feast?
    3. What attitude toward Jesus did the Pharisee take that is common in the world of nominal Christianity today?
    4. Would the Pharisee's attitude help or hinder him, if he, too, had been seeking salvation?
    5. Relate the parable of the two debtors and give the answer that Jesus said was correct.
    6. What common courtesies of the day were denied Jesus by the Pharisee and who supplied the need?
    7. What would you say the Pharisee was saying, in substance, by neglecting Jesus in this manner?
    8. Why did the woman -- and apparently none of the guests -- receive salvation?