Behold, A Woman At His Feet—Part 1

Behold, A Woman At His Feet—Part 1

Behold, A Woman At His Feet—Part 1

Bible study by Sharon Faith Ries

Sharon RiesThis is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study from Sharon Ries, wife of senior pastor Raul Ries of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Diamond Bar, CA. You can watch Sharon teach this message, and others, here.

Women throughout the world and from all walks of life have much to learn from all the women of the Bible––both good and bad. Women in biblical times were subordinate to men in power, and they were economically dependent on them. However, throughout the Scriptures, we see women who feared the Lord. They were portrayed as wise: spiritual mothers, prophetesses, valiant warriors like Deborah, queens, servants, and disciples of Christ. The women in the Bible are just like us. Let us look at the encounter of one of them with Jesus.

In the Bible, this woman is addressed as a woman who was a sinner. However, as she remains nameless, I have simply called this study Behold, A Woman at His Feet. I believe every one of us can identify with her, as we are all sinners. Through this study, I pray women will come to know Jesus in a deeper and more intimate way and worship Him as Lord. How we need Him! This world is reeling with sin, and women are living in such perilous days; yet we know God is in control.

Jesus and His disciples had been in the city of Capernaum, which is located by the Sea of Galilee. Peter lived there. Jesus often visited the city, and it came to be known as the City of Jesus. The Lord walked around the Sea of Galilee, taught people in the towns and villages, and performed many miracles among them. Multitudes followed Him, especially at the beginning of His ministry, but most would leave Him at the end of His life. Jesus had just visited the city of Nain when this story of the sinful woman took place.

The City of Nain

The city of Nain still exists today (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus went up the hill to the city of Nain with His disciples and a procession of people who followed Him. On the way up, He encountered a second procession coming down out of the city. The two crowds met at the top of the hill! A widow with her dead son who lay on a pallet was leading a procession of mourners down the hill to bury him, her only son. Jesus, seeing the woman, had compassion and said to her, “Stop weeping!” Jesus touched the open coffin and said to her son, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The widow’s son rose from the dead! The procession of life had met the procession of death. It is recorded, … fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region (Luke 7:16b-17). After this miracle, Jesus began to speak to the multitudes about the ministry of John the Baptist (Luke 7:24-33).

A Pharisee’s Invitation

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him [Jesus] to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. Luke 7:36

Wherever Jesus went, He spoke with all different types of people––the poor, the rich, the lame, the widows, and even the dead! Jesus even made a point to speak with the Pharisees. This story begins when a Pharisee asked Jesus to eat with Him. What is a Pharisee? They were the model citizens of Israel, accepted leaders simply by virtue of their zeal for the Law. They were supposed to be holy men of God, but pride destroyed them. They still exist today.

In the Gospels, the words Pharisee and hypocrite are nearly synonymous. A Pharisee was considered a “pretender.” In the Hebrew culture, the Pharisees pretended to be the authoritative opinion of righteousness and the Law. They were fervently loyal to God. They felt they were the only ones who really understood the Law. They made such a pretense of being righteous—and were very convincing. These elite leaders were accepted by the people simply because of their knowledge of Scripture and zeal for the Law. They were the respected authority, even by those who disagreed with them.

Jesus regularly challenged their right to their assumed position. He exposed their pretense and emerged as the higher authority––God’s divine authority. The Pharisees defended their stand aggressively, and, in their hearts, jealousy set in. Ultimately, they collaborated in Jesus’ death.

The Pharisees thought Jesus was the son of a mere carpenter (Matthew 13:54-56). He was actually called “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3), and He came from the city of Nazareth, which was “looked down upon” (John 1:46). Yet in the city of Nain, Jesus raised the widow’s dead son! People were now calling Him a prophet sent by God!

The Pharisee’s House

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 … Luke 7:37

Jesus accepted the Pharisee’s invitation and went into His house to eat with him and other invited guests. Various commentators believe the story of this woman who was a sinner took place in the city of Nain. Others believe it took place in the house of a Pharisee around the Sea of Galilee. I really do not know.

In this verse, the word behold calls attention to what was happening. The writer, Luke, wanted the reader to notice this sinful woman; he brought attention to her, and that is exactly what we are to do––behold her. The word behold means “look, be aware of, observe, consider, view her.”

This woman was known around the city, not only as a sinner, but as a great sinner, as Jesus declared at the end of this story, “… her sins, which are many…” (Luke 7:47). He knew this woman’s heart. Many commentators feel she was a prostitute; the Bible is silent about this. I love that because I can put myself in the story. I could say, “I have been a great sinner.” Maybe you have been a great sinner! Some of you may have used drugs or destroyed people with lies. A sin is a sin!

Jesus was a great public Teacher. Multitudes followed Him to hear what He said. For sure this sinful woman had been one of the Master’s listeners. It would be well-known in the city that Jesus would be present at a feast in the house of Simon, the rich Pharisee. The woman probably thought it would be easier to get close to Jesus at this house, rather than in the midst of crowds as He walked in the marketplaces or in the synagogues. Jesus was always surrounded by multitudes, and she wanted to meet Jesus, face to face.

There was another woman––the woman with the issue of blood––who had a difficult time reaching Jesus. She literally had to crawl through a crowd, pushed around and even stepped on, just so she could touch Him (Luke 8:40-48). But the sinful woman in this story thought, I am going to go to this house and see if I can get close to Him. When she observed Jesus sitting at the table of the Pharisee’s house, she entered and drew close to Him. It was common practice that gatherings of this type, during good weather, were held outdoors in patios surrounded by luscious gardens. Uninvited strangers could stop by and listen to the guests, especially when someone as prominent as Jesus was in town. This woman went further; she slipped in and stood behind Jesus, bringing her alabaster flask of fragrant oil.


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.


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