Exegesis of Luke

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A good number of exegetical debates of Luke 7:36-50 surround the concerns of what exact time was the women in question forgiven. One section of arguments claims that she was pardoned of her sins after displaying her gesticulation of benevolence representing repentance. There is also a substantial level of argument to maintain the opinion that the woman was pardoned even before her gesture of kindness. This later point of view depicts the loving nature of God through his son Jesus Christ.

In an equally important perspective of this debate, key issue is a deep knowledge of interpersonal relationships among the sinful woman; self justified Pharisees and the loving Jesus. Interactions among these parties in this structure form a firm foundation of depicting inherent themes within this story. Articulate and unbiased investigation of the text will help answer the underlying question concerning woman’s forgiveness time and Jesus’ intention of behaving in such unlikely manner.

This research paper seeks to explore what other writers had to say concerning the woman’s approach towards forgiveness and remorsefulness. It should be able to give a conclusive opinion about every party’s attitude towards humility and upholding of Christian kingdom values. While maintaining the ideas of the text as recorded in the Bible, this document attempts to sufficiently study the relationships among the three main characters in this context and their consequential long term effects in the entire humanity.

No one can satisfactorily comprehend how dear Christ is and the might of graceful gospel except the down hearted. Although the heart broken sinners languish in self-abhorrence due to their undoing, the proud and self-sufficient individuals remain disgusted because the good news massage encourages such remorseful sinners. Instead of getting elated by the kind gesture of repentance displayed by the condemned woman, the Pharisee confined his judgment to the woman’s limiting bad history. It is only through free forgiveness manifested in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that humanity can escape the expected wrath. Nolland opinion states, “Christ was able to demonstrate to Simon that the much that this woman has been a wrong doer should be reflected in the amount of love shown to her after repentance.”

That is to mean the more a sinner she was the greater should be the love shown unto her. It is implicit here that unpardoned sin is a debt in the eyes of God, Pharisee and repenting woman. However, a sharp difference exists in the manner in which sin should be treated after forgiveness. Woman and Christ are of the strong ideology that upon forgiveness, a pardoned sinner becomes a new creation and the old is gone. This school of thought is further amplified in a section of the Holy Scriptures which says that there is no condemnation any more for those who are in Christ Jesus. On the contradicting end, the Pharisee perceives sinners in an unkind judgment. He believes that sinners should be condemned forever. This is an ideology that vehemently contradicts the tenets God sending his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. Undisputed tone arising from this passage depicts unwarranted sufficiency of mercy available those who are willing to repent.

Introductory verses of the passage sets a tone of what would be eventual conclusion of the massage. It is no doubt that this story is one of the indicators of the sole purpose of Christ coming. That is to save man kind from sin. Controversies surrounding His interaction with sinners are not only depicted in this passage. Earlier verses demonstrate Jesus interacting freely with unrighteous and condemned individuals. By the time a reader enters verse 36 of chapter seven, the mind would have been preset to the fact that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Robert G. Bratcher supports this idea by saying; “On the other hand, a sinful woman, conscious of her needs, accepts him…” Thirty eighth verse explains how the woman was able to carefully display her kindness to Jesus. The kind of picture painted on our minds is a representation of sitting arrangement allowing the sinful woman to access Jesus’ feet with ease. What is not directly told in this passage is the admirable level of preparedness on the sides of both the woman and merciful Jesus.

Although it may be viewed that Jesus’ approach to this matter was meant to humble the proud Pharisee host, it is coming out clear that the decision to forgive had been earlier premeditated. This woman behaved in a witty manner and thus succeeded in distancing herself from poor opportunists. She indeed had clear thought of what she wanted. This is a character being advocated among believers as well as secular fraternity. She brought alongside a jar of oil to demonstrate her love and preparedness.

Chronological order of spontaneous actions by the woman is a vivid indication of her determination and passion to seek forgiveness. She wept enough tears to wash Jesus’ feet before smearing perfume. Weeping is a clear indication of a genuine mercy seeker total helplessness. Without a need of explanation it can accurately deduced that the woman was truly broken hearted. She had undergone enough tribulation in poundage of sin and alienation from proud Pharisees who saw her as a sinner who deserves no pardon.

The woman’s preliminary activities set an exciting stage for a scene in what would have been a smooth dinner. It is an unwritten belief that caressing a man is accompanied by sexual insinuations. This is an opinion which if it was true, it would have created the most ironic experience with Jesus. Being a sinner she was did not deter her from touching Holy Son of God. In the wicked eyes of mortal men, Jesus became unclean by mere touch from a sinful woman. Pharisee who was the host of such controversies must have been left pondering why on earth such disgraceful act happen in his house could. According to him, it must have been a clear portrayal of disrespect to both his status and that of Jesus himself.

Further exposition of the text reveals the selfish thoughts of the Pharisee. He is of a strong thought that the subject woman is a sinner and that Jesus is a prophet of God. Although these presumptions may be true, it is totally misleading to think that Jesus would not have allowed the woman to touch him. The host is also wrong in doubting that Jesus may not be really a prophet on the account that he allowed the unclean woman to defile his righteousness. These thoughts of the Pharisee paint a picture which the writer must have intended to. His assumptions are quite misleading and serve to represent the sentiments of majority hypocrites of our time. Pharisee’s judgment is a true representation of self justifying believers. Tardos and Malaty stipulates, “The Pharisee did not profit anything by his meeting the savior, due to his insistence on pride…”

It is obvious that Jesus is not only a prophet but also a merciful friend who does not seek vengeance of disobedient children. Jesus was quick in stamping his authority as Supreme Being who is above both the woman and Pharisee. The reader must be stunned on the realization that Jesus was not only aware of repenting woman status but also that of the proud Pharisee. He must have surprised him by stating that he was actually aware of Pharisees thoughts that Jesus may not have been really a Prophet.

Based on the already preset ground, the reader is caught with an urge to explore how either party responds. In verse forty Jesus appeared to shift his focus from the woman to the host named Simon. This move can be summarized in a common saying: “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. He underscored the fact that the host was the one languishing in sin reflected in his pride. He became a new target of Christ’s mission on earth. A prime opportunity of hammering the massage of good news and transition from orthodox rigid rules was created. It was a common practice for the host and guest to enter into witty duel. Jesus became the first one to take this opportunity by posing a simple but wise riddle.

He asked him who between the two servants would be most grateful upon cancelation of their debts: is it the debtor with more debt or the one with less? The Pharisee responded in a modest way by saying, “I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.” Out of this leading answer, it became necessary to connect this correct answer to Pharisee’s lack of hospitality towards the woman. As stipulated in the Commentary by Gordon et. al., “Jesus confirms that Simon has given the right answer.” To start with Jesus appreciates the fact that Simon gave the right answer. He was able to display a high level of contrast through turning to the woman.

 Jesus commented the reply. He was able to clearly put across his point that much forgiveness provides an opportunity of Him giving more love. When God pardons a hardcore sinner, the acceptance of such forgiveness translates to chances of deeper love. Jesus runs after sinners and is in whole acceptance of him being associated to them. This is so because they stand higher chances of experiencing God’s lovely forgiveness. Staying away from them would mean neglecting a good rich field of potential Christians.

Jesus’ personality is in agreement with the behavior of this woman. He underscores the fact that these woman did what Simon had failed. There is no clear evidence to warrant the conclusion that Pharisee was culturally supposed to behave in a special way. What the woman did is extra ordinary and is much more than what could have been done normally. It is only love which is capable of bringing about such bizarre responses.  Her actions do not only show thankfulness but also high degree of humility. She is very much aware of who is behind her warm reception. Not even a single gesticulation had been accorded to Jesus in the house of the Pharisee. However, the woman becomes the one to supply all of them against all odds. She recognized and appreciated offer of grace by Jesus and decides to reward it with whole hearth dedication and much affection. Joseph A. Fitzmyer argues that, “In Luke’s form, the conduct of the Pharisee is strange, in inviting Jesus to a formal dinner and failing to show him the customary marks of hospitality…”

At this stage there is a sharp contradiction between woman’s repentance and the host’s arrogance. The next two verses is a speech in which Jesus was elaborating more on the contrast between the manner in which Pharisee treated Jesus and the way the woman did. He goes ahead to draw facts based inferences from his narrations. Out of this the reader gets to know how Jesus was welcomed to the house of Pharisee. It is coming out clear that Jesus was not provided with water to wash his feet, oil to apply to His head and a warm kiss.

The bottom line of this informative story is the declaration by Jesus in verse 47. A dilemma of to whether the woman showed kindness as a result of being forgiven or was forgiven because she showed love to Jesus is dealt with in this verse. Pharisee’s behavior portrayed himself as the person whose sins have been partially forgiven while the woman represent fully pardoned individual.

Uninformed argument may claim that the woman was forgiven completely because she showed greater love. However, an open minded review of the riddle and its application on the woman’s case will show that Jesus is more interested with down to earth attitude and not self justifying individuals. It is logic enough to imply that woman’s preparedness shown in the bringing of alabaster flask is leads to the thought that she was already enjoying re-acceptance and forgiveness. It must be noted that the Pharisee’s sins were not that less than those of the prostitute. He therefore received less because he failed to acknowledge the need of forgiveness.

Jesus displayed a high level of good decision making skills. He prioritized giving more attention to the lost who is Simon in this case. Once the massage of salvation had been communicated, He turned to the women. Closer review of this section makes it look like a climax of the whole story. Reassuring the woman that her sins had been forgiven must have been the most refreshing experience of the woman.

This is an important and affirming section of the text representing conclusive culmination of events. This story would be without meaning if this section was omitted. This story forms one of the foundational strategies in Christian advocacy towards forgiveness of sin. Jesus’ view of this story is a different one. His examination of the woman’s gesture is in form of a parable told by St. Luke. Although they knew that there are prophets, it was hard for Pharisees to believe that Jesus was actually one.

In the whole text Jesus was able to successfully go against the grain by not only accepting to be in association with sinners but also going an extra mile of forgiving them their sins. These details of Christ behavior are the two causes of controversy. Earlier in the book of Luke, the author emphasizes on who can forgive sin. Only god can do that. No wonder Jesus was   seen as blasphemy. Out of this conduct we are able to understand how the ministry of Jesus brings together generally accepted rules and theology. His behavior demonstrates an exemplary way of relating with fellow human beings. It also paints an extraordinary authority which makes Jesus to be more than just a preacher of morality. By declaring than the woman is forgiven, Jesus was able to show stubborn Pharisee that He is more than a prophet.

Pharisees were left puzzled. They knew the significance of pronunciation by Jesus. They were theologically informed that no any other man could forgive sins. Therefore they asked themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sin?” This is a very important question. Since Jesus had the ability of declaring forgiveness upon someone then he must be able to show how salvation would be. Simon who hosted Jesus was not settled in his mind because of Jesus being a prophet. His declaration of sin forgiveness means that he is beyond what many thought he was.

In his concluding remarks, Jesus amplified His message. He comforts the distressed woman by telling her that she had been saved by her faith and could then go in peace. Out of this statement, He was able to translate her gesticulation of love in to assurance of salvation through faith. It is implicit that it is faith which generated a deep feeling of affection and humility manifested in anointing. The success of this story has formed a reassuring foundation among sinners who seek solace in Christ. It is also clear that the only prerequisite of forgiveness of sin is a strong faith in God which would in turn rekindle the fire of humility and love.

 

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