Look, Jesus has entered the home of Simon the Pharisee. He has been invited to dinner. Why? Does he believe in Jesus? Is he getting ready to confess his faith in Him as Messiah? Unfortunately, it does not appear to be so. Looks like Simon wants the opportunity to say that Jesus came to his house. He just wants to satisfy his curiosity and take some pictures with a celebrity that will make him feel important. Jesus is reclining at the table and a woman is walking in carrying an alabaster box of very expensive perfume. She makes her way to where he is, doing her best not to be noticed, her eyes welling up with tears. She looks at his feet. They are dirty. Simon had not provided him with any water to wash his feet as was the custom. She quickly falls to her knees, and without thinking, begins gently washing his feet with her tears. Now she is removing the kerchief off her head and with her long, curly, dark hair, she is wiping the dirt and mud mixed with tears from his feet. Her dark hair is becoming wet and turning brown as it absorbs the mud.
She has started to kiss his feet, not once, but continually. Now, she is reaching around her neck and is removing an alabaster box of very costly perfume. She is now opening it and has started pouring the contents into her hands and rubbing it on his feet. The entire room is beginning to fill with the fragrance of her worship, her love, her gratitude. All eyes are turning to her and then to Jesus to see what he will say, what he will do. They are waiting for his rebuke; it never comes. They wait for him to tell her to stop; he never does. Surely, Simon thinks, this man cannot be a prophet because were he one he would know what type of woman this is. What type of woman was she? Luke describes her as a sinner, a code word for a prostitute, the town’s harlot, no doubt. She was the woman many mothers in town used as an example to warn their daughters about. We don’t know how she came to be a prostitute. Perhaps, she was sexually abused as a child; perhaps, she is a widow with children and feels this is the only way she can survive. Perhaps, her self-image is so ragged after years and years of rejection that she just hates herself and sees this as the only thing that makes her valuable to anybody.
We just can’t say, but we should know better than judge her harshly. She is hated by the wives of her customers; she’s been spat upon; shunned by the best people and used by the worst. Emotionally, she is broken and bleeding. Spiritually, she is wounded. She has failed miserably and is too weak and fragile to pick herself up and move on. Even for her to come to Simon the Pharisee’s house is hard. She knows that Simon will not be happy to see her in his house. She knows how she will be viewed, as a sinner, one who conveys uncleanness by her very touch, almost as if she has a communicable disease. She knows she will be the brunt of nasty jokes and they will want her to leave. But she comes anyway because she knows Jesus will be there.
Why is she so radical in her devotion to Jesus? Why does she worship so passionately, give so sacrificially, and humble herself so fully in the presence of Jesus? Why is she so grateful? Jesus answers these questions for us in Luke 7:47. Jesus had forgiven her of her very many sins, and she knew it! This is Jesus’ answer for why some people are radically devoted to Him and others are lukewarm or cold. It has to do with how much they think they have been forgiven by God.
What we all need is a heightened sense of grace; of forgiveness. The more we understand the grace of God and how totally forgiven we are, the more we will love him.
The greatest mistake we can make is to think we need less grace than other sinners because that attitude will make us cold and indifferent like Simon, the Pharisee. Our relationship will be dry and empty of any passion. The more we realize that though we have committed very many sins, but by God’s grace have been forgiven of all of them, the more we will love the Lord Jesus. According to Jesus, knowing that we are totally forgiven of very many sins does not lead to a lifestyle of sin—it actually leads to a life of gratitude and humility that glorifies the Lord.
Jesus does not want us to be law-conscious, or sin-conscious. He wants us to be forgiveness-conscious. “Your sins are forgiven,” he said to the woman. Thank God, our sins are forgiven too. All of them!
Prayer: Father I thank you for the blood of Jesus and because of him I am forgiven of all my sins. Today, you will be merciful to my unrighteousness and all my lawless deeds you will remember no more. You see me as completely righteous and blameless in your sight, not because of what I have done, but because of what Jesus did. Today, because I am totally forgiven, I walk in peace, health, and prosperity, in Jesus name. Amen.