We don’t know this woman’s backstory at all, whether she was young or old, her culture or clan. Some in our Bible study thought perhaps she was the woman who had committed adultery and was forgiven privately by Jesus after everyone had left (John 8:11) Maybe! We really have no information on her at all but what is given in this text.

Back in 591 A.D. Pope Gregory preached an Easter sermon in which he combined the stories of Mary the Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the woman in this story, which then gave Mary of Magdala the reputation of being a repentant prostitute or a promiscuous woman.

But, if you read the passage carefully you see this is not the same event as when Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus at Simon the Leper’s house. And the woman in this story is also not Mary Magdalene, who had been released from seven spirits in a miraculous healing.

The woman in this story had lived a sinful life was most likely a prostitute. At the very least, she had a reputation. Whatever her growing up story, there were traumas and soul wounds. Then she met Jesus.

Before we get started with this woman’s story, I’d like to say her traditional title of “the sinful woman” is very misleading. In this story, she is portrayed as the devoted-to-Jesus woman, the forgiven-by-Jesus woman, the living-portrait-of-love-sacrifice-and-bold-faith woman. Her sinful past was only noted by the Pharisee sitting next to Jesus. To Jesus, she was one who loved much, and he received her.

So, I’d like to reframe her story as

I The Forthcoming Woman, Luke 7:36-38

II The Favored Woman, Luke 7:39-43

III The Faithful Woman, Luke 7:44-47

IV The Forgiven Woman, Luke 7:48-50

Each video is designed to offer background scholarship on the topic, including setting, culture, original language, and archaeology, as well as a theological study.

The “Broken, Searching, Trusted, Powerful” series is a companion to the book, available on Amazon, and published by Wipf and Stock.

4 thoughts on “The Sinful Woman

  1. Thank you Sister/Professor Joanne for this very interesting and vitally important message!

    It is said Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Having the proper perspective or looking at things the way Jesus would if right there with you is a proper gauge by which to evaluate a given thing or circumstance.
    I had this to say in a previous essay which I think is worth noting in this discussion about clean or unclean, right or wrong as we do live in a world with many temptations and contaminants!

    There are lines we must not cross regardless of personal perspective or even upbringing, because God will judge all human beings by what is truly in their own heart! What fills that heart is the sum total of all one’s life experiences, but, the great equalizer is “Conscience” and every person has one excluding the exception of a sociopath or pure evil which does exist. One must learn through life to choose carefully what actions or behaviors they display or elicit from others for that can become a pathway to temptation and sin which are the ruin of humankind from the original fall from grace when Adam and Eve transgressed God, who is God, the Omnipotent always right in all matters, no exceptions. So, that is who we should attune our hearts to nothing else, not worldly fashion or promise nor the allures of fame and fortune nothing will bring everlasting peace and happiness to any soul unless it is through God Almighty the Creator of the universe and we broke humans. It starts with humility and people today lack it sorely putting themselves and some others up on high pedestals, which is complete folly and some stay on that path thinking they are god-like which is what pagan ancient civilizations produced in Greece, the Roman Empire or Mayan among many other empires, which even went as far as human sacrifice in their evil behavior. So yes, there is benevolence and there is actual evil in the universe and mankind is plagued with the dilemma of this dichotomy, the choice is up to each person, but, all have the opportunity I believe to turn things around before they are doomed!

    I hope my thoughts and perceptions help in our understanding! Amen.
    Brother in Christ Jesus,

    1. Please forgive this tardy reply, Brother in Christ, Lawrence! The dits for my thesis came in, and I have some other papers due, and videos, and Bible study, and I have been trying to balance everything like a house of cards!

      What you said here, “What fills that heart is the sum total of all one’s life experiences,” is a core truth of life for all people. What we do and say, where we take ourselves, the people we seek to be with, all is an overflow of what is first in our hearts. And what results flows back into our hearts one way or the other. So we learn, ever so slowly, by watching ourselves, what is truly in our hearts.

      I have often said: you will know what you truly believe not by what you say, but by what you do.

      Just this morning my husband and I were talking about what the Apostle Paul might have meant about the secret of contentment, and certainly at least part of what he meant has to do with remembering that we have died to sin and been risen to Christ. Our appetites are no longer our masters, only Jesus is our Master.

      When we find ourselves in a situation of want, there is a part of us that can rejoice that we are being reminded by the lack that only Christ is Master, and not that thing we would want, but do not have.

      Your last sentence was very good, Brother In Christ, “ there is benevolence and there is actual evil in the universe and mankind is plagued with the dilemma of this dichotomy, the choice is up to each person, but, all have the opportunity I believe to turn things around before they are doomed!”

      Yes, as the Apostle Peter wrote, God desires that none should perish, that all would have eternal life. Every person has opportunity to turn to the Lord, one way or the other. That is God’s loving kindness, mercy, and grace.

      The Lord’s Shalom be yours, Grace and Peace, Joanne

    1. Thank you, Brother in Christ Lawrence, for sharing this essay. You bring out a very important truth that all people are complex, we are both victims -and- agents, which is to say we are harmed by others, but we ourselves also cause harm. Sometimes we know we have been harmed, other times we don’t know because we accept harmful situations as normal.

      But by the same token, sometimes we know we have done wrong and harmed others (or the environment, or other creatures) and we justify it, or perhaps sometimes we repent. But other times we are ignorant, and do not know that what we have done is harmful.

      Thankfully, we have the Lord to open our eyes to truth. But this is when we -most- need that important quality you write about, -humility-. Without humility, we will never come to know the truth.

      Thank you again, Brother in our Lord and Savior!!

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