1. Study Luke 7:36-48. What do you observe about the setting
of this passage?
Jesus has been invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee for dinner. It was an honor to host a
visiting Rabbi, and Simon the Pharisee had the means to do this in both home and money.
2. Observe carefully the actions of the Pharisee and the girl. What do you see?
The Bible does not say why the Pharisee invited Christ to his home for dinner; but others knew
about the invitation, which may suggest a personal political motive. The Pharisee, with his cordial behavior, did
not acknowledge Christ as being God, and perhaps perceived himself to be equivalent in spiritual stature as "a
Honoring a guest is usually shown by a) providing a basin of water to wash his feet (people
wore sandals), b) offering scented olive oil for the hair, and c) greeting the guest with a kiss. Simon the
Pharisee did not do any of these things.
The woman behaved in a quite different manner: a) without invitation, and despite public
knowledge of her reputation and social ridicule (likely a prostitute), she came early to the home of a Pharisee
to wait for His arrival, b) she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, c) she stood behind Christ, d) she cried, e)
she washed His feet with her tears and hair repeatedly, f) she kissed His feet with her lips repeatedly, and g)
anointed His feet with perfume. By her actions, she acknowledged, loved, and revered God.
3. Who is the audience and what is said in the parable? What is the difference between Grace and Mercy?
Jesus is speaking to both Simon the Pharisee and the woman. The parable is about a moneylender
and two borrowers who lack the money to pay off their loan. Within the context of the time, borrowers unable to
repay the lender are thrown into prison until family members can redeem the loan.
The woman had a bigger debt than Simon the Pharisee, but the parable shows that the penalty
is the same regardless of the loan amount.
Simon the Pharisee never saw this nor saw himself as the debtor, which prompted Jesus' judgment
In the parable, Jesus' question of which debtor would love the moneylender more came after
the moneylender forgave the debt. The woman did not come to Jesus to ask for forgiveness, she came crying knowing
she was forgiven, and she was profoundly grateful. Faith in His promise of forgiveness and redemption was her
Did the woman receive grace or did she receive mercy? What is the difference? Grace
is getting something you don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Simon the Pharisee
did not truly know his own spiritual state; the woman clearly understood hers and that she was a recipient
of God's grace and mercy.
Remember that when reading parables, the key in understanding the parable is observing
whom Jesus is talking to. Jesus speaks mostly to Simon (and indirectly to others at the party). Simon was held
in high regard socially and religiously and the woman was not; he was "good" and she was "bad." Yet, while
being the most capable, Simon the Pharisee failed to recognize God or his sinful spiritual state. In God's
eyes, sin is sin. However, in man's eyes, the recognition of sin is relative; it is inversely proportional to
one's indulgence of it. The less likely one has indulged with a particular sin, the greater the public rejection
and recognition of it. The greater one has indulged with a particular sin, the less likely the public rejection
and recognition of it. Thus, prostitution is considered a "greater" sin than adultery. Jesus is telling us that
being good is not the same as being forgiven of your sin. Furthermore those who fail to recognize that 1) Jesus
is God, and 2) they are sinful will not experience God's grace and mercy.
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