John MacArthur, in a sermon on Luke 7:36-50, says that, "Most people when they read this account identify it as the story of the immoral woman. It isn't really that. She is, in a sense, only an element of the story. It is the story of Jesus evangelizing a Pharisee." The most profound section of his sermon, though, is this:
Here Jesus identified in verse 34 as "the friend of sinners," demonstrates that He is the friend even of a sinning Pharisee, who, by the way, is the worst of sinners. You say, "You mean worse than a prostitute?" Yes. The worst possible sinner, the most unredeemable of all is the one who thinks he's not a sinner and doesn't need redemption, who thinks that God is pleased with him the way he is. This is the worst of sinners. Paul was one of these and that's why he called himself "the chief of sinners." The worst kind of sin is the sin of self-righteousness, the assumption that you on your own by your own religious activities and moral merit can somehow earn a place in the Kingdom of God. That is the most heinous crime of all for it treats the sacrifice of Christ with utter disdain, as being unnecessary and foolish. This then is a story of Jesus using a wretched sinner to reach an even worse sinner.