Lessons In The Life Of A Sinful Woman

-Luke 7:36-50-

Do you know this woman?




When we came to this girl in our study I was blown away at the “randomness” of this.  She is a “no named” sinner.  She literally is a “sinful” woman who is “known” for her particular sin.So as we begin to study, just hearing this part may not jog your memory of who she is but trust me you are going to remember her. She is one of the women in scripture that anoints Jesus feet. There are a few other characters in this story that add a lot of teaching elements to this study as well but that hopefully will get you in the right frame of mind. This story also involves Simon the Pharisee but hopefully this helps you jump right in. 

There were a million ways to share about this passage. I found myself at an impasse. None of the routes I could take would share all its goodness.

Do I teach on the view of the “sinner” in this passage?

Do I teach from the seat the Pharisee sat in?

Do I teach on the forgiveness of Jesus?

Do I share the historical significance of foot washing?

Yes to all! 

 I wish I had time to teach on them all.

I just want us to figuratively find ourselves sitting around “the table” with these Pharisees, Jesus and the “sinner”.  I want us to find ourselves reclining at the table and take in our surroundings.  This will include putting ourselves in the seat of the Pharisee, Jesus and the “sinner”. 


They were reclining at the table. Jesus had been invited to the Pharisee’s home for a meal and in walks in this “sinner that everyone knew.  She was “known” for her sin. Scripture tells us if you look closely in this moment, that she is behind Jesus. I don’t know if you caught that. It makes me think perhaps they sat on the floor kind of in a reclining position with their feet to the side. I think maybe she was behind Him in shame. Shamefulness exposed even in how she approached Him.  


Scripture tells us she goes purposefully to wash His feet. She “brought” the oil. She came prepared !She enters a Pharisees house. I don’t believe this would have been copacetic. She was “known” as a sinner.  She was “known” as unclean yet she comes prepared to bring her offering of worship. She waltzes up in this Pharisee’s house prepared to worship Him. She brings her oil with her. 

I am convicted about a few things even from the “get go” of this story.Let’s dig in to practical application.Let’s ask the hard questions of ourselves as we go along in this study.We see her come prepared to worship. She hears that Jesus is at the Pharisee’s home and she goes prepared to worship.

Do we “prepare” to worship Him?

Do you prepare to bring the Lord an offering that is pleasing to Him?

She came in prepared.

Does our surrender cost us anything?

She came with an alabaster box of ointment.  The box itself would have been expensive. History tells us it perhaps would have been an ornate, hand carved box of great value.  

The perfume would have been expensive as well.  

This moment of worship cost her “ridicule”. Every person in the Pharisee’s home
“knew” who she was. As we read the passage you get the feeling that there was more than one stare and side statement about her offering of worship.

Another thing….

Does our repentance and brokenness before Him change the room?

It did in this instance because it got the attention of onlookers.

So….Do you bow.

Do you physically “bow” as you worship?

Perhaps not needed but it does show the position of the heart I believe. Her brokenness as she wept showed the position of her heart. I will go out on a limb and say most of us don’t “bow” on a regular basis. Let’s be real. We don’t bow to anyone. We are an arrogant people. We view ourselves higher than others.We aren’t going to serve anyone. I won’t be so hard on you. I will rephrase. We don’t find it easy to serve others.  

We see a woman that is so broken over her sin that she doesn’t mind bowing, weeping and serving Him in anyway possible.








We don’t view ourselves higher than Christ but we don’t bow. So there comes the thought provoking question doesn’t it?If we find it hard to bow to Him, is He really the leader of our hearts?

Do we pray? Sure

Do we attend church? Of Course

Do we sing on Sunday?  Absolutely 

But do we bow?

Are you willing to  bow in the presence of those who “know” your sin? Not that this makes a difference but this is a very vulnerable place.Some people to this very day won’t go to the altar after the preacher preaches on a particular sin because “everyone” will assume they are guilty of that sin.  Her business is out there and she’s bowing.  He is worthy of worship at all times. No matter who is around. She weeps to the point that it’s a puddle on the floor. Scripture says she has made His feet wet with her tears. Sopping wet ! When was the last time you were so broken and overwhelmed by your sin, you left a puddle of tears at His feet?





We could sit and let that soak for a minute…It’s very convicting…

She has come into a room where she was“known” for her sin. I’m sure she could feel the stares. This wasn’t a place she should be but yet somehow she was compelled to give her act of worship.





She weeps upon His feet, applies ointment to His feet and dries His feet with her hair. The passage tells us Jesus spoke to her and said “your sins are forgiven. You faith has saved you, go in peace.Oh to hear…Your sins are forgiven. I love that this phrase has been spoken over my life more times than I can count.Jesus knew her state as did everyone else.When she came in the room He knew.

I wonder in the life of this woman, what it took to get to that point of surrender to worship like that?

What does it take to get to that point of surrender in worship for ME?

I love seeing that she isn’t concerned with the onlookers.She is focused on the feet of the savior. Jesus must have our undivided attention.









It takes realizing your sinfulness.

It takes humility.

It takes embracing knowing who He truly is.

You can say Jesus is Lord but not walk in it. But to give this type of offering in worship in front of room full of Pharisees gives us the picture of a broken woman.








She as a “known” sinner. This scene looks different don’t you think. It’s not a private sin no one knows about.  She is “known”.It would be like a prostitute walking up in your church on Sunday morning and weeping uncontrollably at the altar.Most of us hide our sin but yet to “worship” she walks into a room full of people.  She isn’t going to be seen but it becomes a byproduct of her worship. 

What gets us to this point of brokenness?

You have to completely believe He is who He says He is.You have to be done with your sin. You have to be at the point of repentance.  She knows He is the one who can remove sin.

Most of us never get to Jesus feet with this type of worship because we aren’t done with our sin and we aren’t broken over it.










Jesus uses it as an example to those around her. Jesus uses this as a one on one teaching lesson to Simon the Pharisee.  I have no doubt there were other onlookers and eavesdroppers on this one on one encounter with Jesus and Simon. Just like in your moments of worship, someone will always be watching your allegiance to Christ. 




Simon’s mind was wondering as he watched this woman worship.  He has the audacity to think to himself, “if this man were a prophet He would know what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him!”I love that the “prophet” shows out and tells him of his “ponderings”. In that moment, Jesus exposes the private thoughts of Simon and brings them to the forefront. I’m going to dig into this “parable” moment between Jesus and Simon later in the studybut we should sit with this “pondering” moment a second.  There are a few quick things we could grasp from Simons private “thoughts and ponderings” that God exposes. 

God knows the intentions and the thoughts of men. We gotta get those in check ladies.  Just because you didn’t say it doesn’t mean it ain’t sin!  I am fully aware that isn’t proper English but it’s proper to speak right to the heart of the thing!  Jesus responded to Simon with a parable.  

Let’s read through our scripture. 

Luke 7:36-50

36.Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

37.And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner: and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume.

38.And standing behind Him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.

39.Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

40.And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you, “And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”

41.A moneylender had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

42.When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”

43.Simon answered and said, “ I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”  And He said to him, “ You have judged correctly.”

44.Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”  I entered your house: you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

45.“You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.

46.You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.

47.“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

48.Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

49.Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”

50.And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus uses this moment to expose the heart of Simon. By this “known sinner” who was looked down upon by Simon, Jesus is going to use her offering of worship as a prime example to Simon. Jesus taught him in this moment that this woman had been forgiven much so she loved much !!!

This woman had come to grips with her sinfulness so repentance and worship were on the forefront of her heart.







I wonder if the sinfulness of The Pharisee was ever on the forefront of his heart.  Perhaps if it was he would have washed Jesus feet, greeted Him with a kiss and anointed His head. So we see the importance of coming to grips with our sinfulness imperative in the life of a repentance person. Repentance always will be accompanied by brokenness. 







She has come to grips with it. And when she does, she finds herself worshipping at the feet of Jesus.

I want you to sit beside her as she washes Jesus feet.

What does this moment look like?

What did it sound like?

Did she snub?

Did she wail?

Was it uncomfortable for the onlookers?










I think it would be good for us to mentally sit at His feet. In this moment, this “known” sinner is looking at the feet of Jesus.I want you to take a fresh look. Look at them ! Look at the scars ! Look at the road He walked for you ! Look!







Look perhaps for the first time at His feet. I believe the tears would stream. True worship might happen for the first time.

When we find ourselves not “academically” look at Jesus from a rules and regulations standpoint but we look at Jesus from a relationship with the one who died for us, we will see something different. 







Recently, Shane and I were able to attend a Marriage Marathon with 6 other couples.  We had several sessions that usually began with a corporate teaching on a specific area of marriage. We were then given a list of questions that were to be answered privately then we would retire back to our hotel room and share and discuss our personal answers with our spouse.  Some of these questions were not easy but sparked real intimate conversation.  We did this several times. After having our private time of sharing with each other,  we would again be summoned back to the  corporate area where the next session would start. We did this a few times. 

The last session on Friday night was unique.  

When we came back in for the last corporate teaching, we found bowls that had been placed on the floor.If you’ve been in church any length of time you know that we are about to wash each others feet.  Shane and I had no problem with this.  He serves me well.  He has a servants heart. I pray he would say the same about me. We had a short teaching about servitude and were dismissed back to our rooms.  Shane filled our bowl up with “hotter than Hades” water and of course I am an essential oils girl, so I dropped some goodness in the water.

I told him I would wash his feet first.

 I did not expect what came next…

He sat down and of course I am on the floor in front of him.  The bowl is rather small. He has a size 13 foot. It wasn’t going to fit in the bowl. I held his foot with one foot and puddled water in my hand and began to wash his feet.  When I tell you I wasn’t down there ten seconds when the emotion came…..Now let me explain…

 Shane and I have been blessed with a great relationship but the emotion came flooding in as I began to wash his feet.The thought immediately came as to how many years he had stood 10-12 hour days to provide for me.  We’ve been married 32 years this year and he has worked 10-12 hours a day to provide for our family. I have looked at his feet for 32 years. I have even thanked him for working so hard to provide for our family but when you are sitting at the feet of someone..it’s different !  The view is different.  I hope you are “going here” with me.

I was so overwhelmed!!! 

This was a Jesus moment I know for sure.  

Tears streamed down my face. Tears of gratitude for this man that I thought I already had gratitude for. As I was washing his feet, I looked up at him.  I began to tell him just what I have told you. 

He began to weep. 

I continued to wash his feet and even kissed them. This was a position of servitude and honor for who he is.  He in turn washed my feet. Sweet things were spoken but in that moment I saw Shane’s sacrifice in a different light.

I can’t imagine sitting at the feet of Jesus and the emotion that would come from seeing the feet of the Messiah. The one who had the ability to forgive my sin. This is where this “sinner” is in our passage. She’s right there. 

On our retreat, we talked some about baggage and how that makes us who we are. Baggage can be heavy.  As we look at what this sinful woman would have seen in Jesus feet, let’s look at the baggage she would have been carrying.  

Everybody comes with their own set of “luggage”. This “sinful” woman was no different. I love that in Luke seven shows us that she is laying her baggage down.



Luggage is usually heavy.  It comes from years of “unpacked” emotion, hurt, trauma and scars of sin.  I love that she is laying it down.  It’s heavy.  Mine is heavy. How about yours?

I want you to look at your “baggage” not from a place of the heaviness of it but a place of rejoicing in recalling where He has brought you from.  Perhaps that’s what this woman, who finds herself overwhelmed at the feet of Jesus, is experiencing. 

It’s not good to focus on your “baggage” or the sins of your past but when you have laid it at His feet, they then become a tool to  worship Him with! Man what a powerful thing!!




Have you been forgiven much?

Use the act of remembering where He has brought you from as a catalyst to worship.



I have no doubt this woman was doing that exact thing as she wiped His feet with her tears.When I remember where He has brought me from I love big. 

She knew what she had been forgiven of so she loved big. She knew what she had been forgiven of so her worship was extravagant. She knew what she had been forgiven of so her worship seemed extravagant to onlookers.






She had a correct heart response to who Jesus was.Do you love big? If so, chances are you’ve been forgiven big and you realize it.

Reality check! 

We’ve all been forgiven big.

Some of us are just more arrogant about who we are and we’ve failed to bow.


This woman was still broken over her sin. 

It’s evident to me in her response of weeping.  

Her sin seems very fresh.

His feet are an altar for her. 

His feet are an altar for us as well.

It’s the place we lay things down.

We lay them at his feet.












Hear me loud and clear! The enemy will use your sin as a weapon to overshadow you. When we lay our worship and servitude at His feet, the only person overshadowing us is Christ.








Jesus said to the woman “your sins are forgiven”. Do I realize He is the only source of forgiveness? I will be honest and say it takes me much longer to get to his feet in surrender than it should. This woman has taught me a lot. 

What and where had this woman walked thru to get her to a puddle on the floor in front of Jesus? Those onlookers knew some of it but I am sure they only knew a part. I have to say I have been places in my walk that have taken me right there. The importance of laying it down at His feet and repenting of it and walking away from it is the only life giving source I know. This “sinful” woman knew that. 


Worshipping Him can present itself many different ways.  It can be a heart position. It is often accompanied by am outward posture. Bowing in surrender is a very visible tangible way of showing Christ Lordship in our lives. 

This type of surrender to Christ is costly. 

Let’s look at some ways worship was costly to this “sinner”. The perfume she brought would have been costly.  Even the alabaster container would have been quite costly.  It would have been an ornate carved container. The perfume and container both significant in this story.   I just want you to see she lays it all down.  All of it. Her perfume, her past and her humility. I love the heart of this “sinner”.

Her worship was costly  as the onlookers watched her. We already know Simon has his own internal opinion about her yet it doesn’t stop her from worshipping. A worshipper with a heart full of adoration doesn’t care who is around. A worshipper doesn’t mind the stares.  

Real authentic worship, whether it be in a worship service, or a lifestyle of worship will always stick out.  









She stuck out.

It will make others uncomfortable.  

Often times exposing the hidden heart of the Pharisee.It’s much easier to follow an external rule than to bow an arrogant heart. A Pharisee would have been more comfortable with the rules than bowing in worship. It takes true brokenness of sin to surrender to Him and bow your head in worship.


Real authentic worship, whether it be in a worship service, or a lifestyle of worship will always stick out.  

People will question your holiness and your calling when you engage with sinners.  

Expect it. It happened to Jesus.








Pharisees will point the sinners issues out.Even Pharisees questioned Jesus about His love for a sinner.  We should expect no different in our day and time.

Do you find the “sinner” repulsive like Simon did?  If you do BUT your sin isn’t repulsive to yourself, then you just might be a Pharisee.







Most folks think this “sinner” was a prostitute. So let’s dig into that and apply it personally. How would “you” respond if a prostitute entered your church? We’ve looked at Simons response but let’s check our own.

How do “you” respond when you see a prostitute on the street?

Do you sneer at her?

Do you look her up and down?

Are you repulsed by her sin?

BUT Are you repulsed by your own?

How do you deal with those “shattered” by sin?

Do you engage with them or are you repulsed?

I just wanna say I think we should all be shattered by our sin.  I see this “sinner” is a great example of brokenness before God. Repentance is needed for the remission of sins.  We should all be reminded that it cost no less blood from Christ to purchase the life of a prostitute than the life of a Pharisee. 







I know that Jesus died for all my sin, past, present and future.  I know that they are covered by the blood.  It’s easy to point out the sins of others while camouflaging our own. It’s time we remember to get the “log” out of our own eye before we work on the speck in the lives of others. For many years of my life, I would bring up the past sin in my own life and ask Him to forgive me of them over and over and over.  I had to mature through that and realize once He had forgiven me there was no need to bring them up again. 

The enemy would also bring up the filth of my past that had already been forgiven. He never stops doing that but now when the enemy brings it up, I use it as an opportunity of thankfulness to God. 









It’s often that “a sinful area”  in my life will come up in my memory and I thank Him again for redeeming me from that again.   It no longer has a mental and spiritual hold on me but has become another way I can offer Him a praise. It’s often that I thank Him again for maturing me past those areas.  It’s often that I have an opportunity to tell the Lord I haven’t forgotten His mercy upon my life.   This is a great practice.  I have no doubt it ticks the enemy off. 

As I have learned to do this, it helps me stay humble and to remind me to reach out to those who are still struggling.  The “sinner” in our story was still struggling. The most important thing we can do is love the sinner and be so close to the feet of Jesus ourselves that we can lead them right there.









Sit down with them at the feet of Jesus and walk with them as they surrender their lives in worship to Him.