Luke 7:18–8:3 (NKJV)
18 Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. 19 And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 20 When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ” 21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. 22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. 31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:
‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”
36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, 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 rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
8:1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
As John the Baptist sat in prison, his faith needed strengthening, so he wisely turned to Jesus for help, and he was given exactly the help he needed. John’s disciples were to see the miracles Jesus was performing, hear the message Jesus was preaching, and report what they saw and heard back to John. That report, that word about Jesus, which was also connected to the Old Testament word about the Messiah, would give John all the strength he needed to be faithful unto death.
Jesus also reminded the crowds who were with Him of the power of the word as preached by John. It wasn’t his fine appearance or fancy clothing or elegant preaching that brought tax collectors and sinners to faith. It was the simple word of God, the Law that exposed their sins, and the Gospel that promised the forgiveness of sins through Christ.
Of course, not everyone saw and heard and then believed. Most did not receive the word humbly. Most were like children in the marketplace who made up their own rules for how John and Jesus were to behave and preach. But their unbelief is contrasted in today’s reading with the faith and gratitude of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. His preaching of free forgiveness to all who came to Him for it was enough to persuade her that even her many sins would be forgiven by Him. And she was not alone. While the leading men of Israel mocked Jesus and rejected Him, many women were brought to faith by His word and devoted themselves to serving Him in whatever way they could.
May all these examples move us to hear the word of God humbly, not placing ourselves and our reason above it, but always beneath it. Consider the goodness and mercy of Christ that you have heard reported in Holy Scripture, and may His great love for you move you to great acts of love for others.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, keep us focused on the words and works of Your beloved Son. Grant that we may always receive Your word humbly and believe it steadfastly. Amen.