Simon the Pharisee

In his record of Jesus’ ministry Luke writes (chapter 7) of an occasion where a Pharisee has invited Jesus to his home for a meal. Only Jesus knew Simon’s reason for inviting Him, whether it was a desire to know more about Him or just to be able to say that he had the popular new prophet to his house. But at some point, evidently as they were reclining and dining on the veranda, a woman of dubious character brings a jar of oil and with tearful emotion pours it on Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair. Simon’s reaction as he saw this was to say to himself, “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.” (A Pharisee was a religious conservative who faithfully observed the ceremonial laws and to him this woman was an “untouchable.)


Jesus knew his thoughts and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” Simon replied, “Teacher, say it.” Jesus proceeded to tell Simon a parable on forgiveness and ended by rebuking him stating, “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. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.” (Anointing with oil was for special guests.) Jesus then forgave the woman her sins and sent her away saying that her faith had saved her. But Simon, after listening to Jesus’ rebuke for his conduct, did not say he was sorry or ask for forgiveness…and Jesus did not give it to him!

This man is a type of many good church members. Whether he was raised in a family that was Pharisee or chose it himself, Simon was probably a faithful member in good standing at the local synagogue. Even giving Simon the benefit of the doubt that in his early years he truly loved God and worshipped Him by keeping the law, somewhere along the line his love turned to duty and slowly he became a lover of the law more than a lover of God. From there it was a short jump to judging others by their devotion to the synagogue and its ceremonies instead of by their godly character.

If you are a church member and going to church has become more duty and habit than worshipping God, fellowshipping with other believers, and loving the truth of God’s Word, then consider Simon the Pharisee. He couldn’t see the truth that Jesus wanted him to see. His judgments were based on man-made traditions that carried more weight with him than God’s Word, and brothers and sisters, it can happen to any of us. “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) If I may be so bold as to add: only the righteous can make righteous judgments, and that righteousness comes from Jesus Christ.