Series 23


by Francis Dixon

(Scripture Portion: Luke 7:36-50; Commendation: Verses 44-48)

This study concerns “a woman who had lived a sinful life” (Luke 7:37). We are all sinners, without exception: we were born that way – look up Psalm 51:5, and compare Psalm 58:3. Being sinners by nature we have all committed sin – look up Isaiah 53:6; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23 – and are guilty before God – look up Ezekiel 18:4, and compare Romans 6:23. (See also 1 John 1:8-10). Notice, then:


She was a great sinner – verse 47 tells us her sins were “many”. From the description it would seem she was a prostitute. Now for every woman who is guilty of this sin some man is involved – perhaps many, in fact – and the tragedy is that usually the man goes free – but not for always. God will not let him go free – look up Galatians 6:7, and compare Revelation 21:8. This poor woman was completely enslaved by her sin; her condition is described in John 8:34, and the consequences of her sin are described in James 1:15. Your sin may not be along this line it may be dishonesty, hypocrisy or some secret jealousy or pride. The saving thing about her is that she knew she was a sinner, and it was not necessary to convince her that she needed salvation. She hated her sin. Of course she did! No fallen man or woman, no alcoholic, no-one enslaved by sin ever intended to become enslaved. But notice the second thing we are told about her:


She had a great faith. The natural tendency is to feel too bad to come to the holy, sinless Saviour; but this woman believed that if she came He would welcome, pardon and deliver her. She was absolutely right! – look up Matthew 9:13; Luke 15:2; 19:7, and see what it says at the end of Luke 7:34. How grateful we must all be for 1 Timothy 1:15! What, then, did the woman do? From verses 37 and 38 notice five things the grace of God led her to do:

  1. She KNEW. Verse 37 tells us this. She knew that Jesus was nearby and accessible; and He is near you now – look up Acts 17:27-28.
  2. She BROUGHT. Verse 37 tells us that she brought to her Lord an alabaster box of ointment, which was the token of the love she was to pour out before Him. Have you some token of your love for Him?
  3. She WEPT. Verse 38 tells us this, and here we have the indication of her contrition, her sorrow and her repentance – look up Psalm 51:17.
  4. She KNELT. She must have done, in order to wash His feet. Here we have a picture of real humility – a poor, sinful woman prostrate at the feet of her Lord, probably praying in the words of Psalm 51:9-10.
  5. She KISSED. Verse 38 emphasises this. How wonderful that our Lord should allow this sinful woman to kiss His feet, and how wonderful that we may come to Him just as she came to Him!

Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear?
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face;
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

If I rightly read Thy heart,
If Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Pardon and accept me now!

The same wonderful, loving Lord who received and pardoned this sinful woman will receive and pardon anyone who comes to Him in humility, penitence, simple trust and with the desire and plea for His acceptance and blessing. Finally, notice:


This is brought before us in a most touching way. Read Luke 7:44-50 carefully, and notice the following four points:

  1. The Lord’s Approval. Verses 44-46 bring before us our Lord’s loving and gracious words of commendation. How sweet those words must have been to the woman! She would feel overwhelmed with the sense of His deep understanding, His tender love and His gracious acceptance of her, despite her sinfulness. And the Saviour is still willing to receive us if only we will come to Him in our deep need. Have you come?
  2. The Lord’s Forgiveness. Verse 47 is a New Testament illustration of Isaiah 1:18. Her sins were literally as scarlet and crimson, but as she fell at the feet of her Lord and Sin-bearer she was made white as snow – look up Psalm 51:7. The same gracious gift of pardon is offered to all men, everywhere, for – look up Acts 13:38-39.
  3. The Lord’s Assurance. This is brought before us in verse 48. Could she ever again have any doubt about the full forgiveness that the Lord had given her? She had His sure word upon which to rest, and you and I have the same – look up 1 John 2:12.
  4. The Lord’s Commission. Verse 50 tells us that the Lord said to her, “Go…” Yes, she was to go back to her friends, to her home, back to tell others of the wonderful grace of her Lord. And as she went on this journey, back into a new life of fellowship with and service for her Lord, she was to experience Philippians 4:7.

Wonderful Saviour! Wonderful salvation! How do you fit into this picture?