Luke tells of a time Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner. Jesus and his disciples went and “reclined at the table” (Luke 7:36) along with Simon’s religious friends, who were skeptical about Jesus’ true identity—mainly because he showed more love for “sin- ners” than love for the Law of Moses (Jesus had just made it clear this wasn’t true; he came to fulfill the intent of the Law of Moses). They invited Jesus there to judge him, not learn from him.
Middle Eastern dining style consisted of a one-foot high table with pillows on the floor for seating, usually with feet stretched out to the side or behind them. As the meal proceeded, an immoral woman crashed the party. She sheepishly made her way over to stand behind Jesus. Luke makes sure we know she had “lived a sinful life” (v. 37). She did not just have a few slipups, but rather had made a life out of her sexual deviancies, and everyone knew it! Her mud was public knowledge. Her whole life, she had felt judged and condemned by the religious establishment, so to go into the house of her tormentors took enormous courage.
Yet there she stood . . . because Jesus was there! Somehow word on the street had traveled to her through the crowd she hung out with—there’s hope in Jesus for the muddiest human. Hearing he had come near, an unstoppable force welling up from within had drawn her to his feet. As she stood in his presence, hope burst through the dam of all that pain that had driven her mudsling- ing behavior—she started to cry. Her tears accidentally landed on Jesus’ dirty feet (that his host had not shown the common courtesy to wash).
The tension in the room mounted; everyone’s shoulders tight- ened as she fell to her knees behind Jesus, bent down, and wiped his wet, dirty feet with her hair. She took out a bottle of oil mixed with perfume, took the oil in her hands, and gently stroked his feet with the oil—kissing them as she anointed him with the perfume.
Jesus just sat there, never flinching, eyes fixed on the Pharisees, watching them react in shock and disbelief—flames of contempt shooting out of their merciless eyes.
Simon could stand it no more. This outrageous scene had proven his point. He muttered to himself and his “more respectable” guests, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).
In other words, if Jesus were truly a prophet, he would know about her scandalous sexual sin, and he would be shocked. But Jesus did know and was not shocked!
Now you have to realize, this was a controversial situation. Imagine a known prostitute coming up to your pastor, kissing his feet and rubbing oil on them after the Sunday service. It would be his last Sunday at most churches if he didn’t put an end to it fast! What was Jesus thinking? Why didn’t this shock Jesus like it would all of us?
Jesus looks at the heart. It’s about the heart. Jesus confronted the unloving hearts of his host and friends while this woman dem- onstrated a heart overflowing with love. Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to tell you” (v. 40).
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii [a whole lot of money], and the other fifty [one tenth as much]. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
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