REVEALED: The Sinful Woman
Read: Luke 7:36-50
Unless otherwise noted all scripture is taken from the NIV.
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘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.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’
‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said.
‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 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.’
‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’
Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’
Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’"
This section of scripture is jam-packed! Let’s begin with the Pharisee who invited Jesus to his home. The Pharisees were the teachers of the Law. They were privy to the deeper Truths imparted by the Lord and shared through the prophets. They were often proud and enjoyed showcasing their false humility and holiness. In fact, most times in scripture when Jesus was angry or openly rebuking, it was the Pharisees at whom He aimed His rebuke. Jesus took exception to the Pharisees’ emphasis on strict adherence to the Law over a heart changed through a relationship with the Lord. The Pharisees followed a “checking the box” policy to ensure holiness while completely missing the point: God desires to know us and for us to know Him. God desires for us to understand His deep love for us…a love so deep that He sent His Son to die for us even while we were still sinners. God wants for us to submit our lives to Him in response to the Lord’s great grace and mercy and to build a deep and intimate relationship with Him.
The Pharisee in this selection, Simon, invited Jesus to his home for dinner. While Jesus was reclining at the table, a woman who is described only as “a woman who had lived a sinful life” approached Jesus. She “stood behind him at his feet weeping…”
At this point, any one of our names and faces could be inserted into the story. We don’t know this woman’s specific sin, although the original Greek text for “sinful life” describes someone devoted to sin. The emphasis shouldn’t be placed on her lifestyle so much as it should be on her tears. She wept at His feet because she recognized her sinfulness. In fact, she wept so much that her tears soaked Jesus’ feet and she used her hair to dry them.
and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (v 38)
The perfume, or ointment as it’s referenced in the KJV, that she brought was in an alabaster jar. Alabaster was considered the very best way to house such ointment and opening it required breaking the seal. Once the seal was broken, the ointment or perfume would escape.
Washing feet in this culture was considered a menial task performed by the very lowly. Because of the dusty region in which they lived, and because sandals offered limited protection from such things, feet were often caked with dirt, mud, and dung. It would require great humility to lower oneself literally and figuratively to wash someone’s dirty feet. This woman did so and even went so far as to kiss them. She displayed no reservation or pride. She used what she had on hand to accomplish this act of worship: The jar of perfume, her tears, and her hair. She came to the Lord broken and contrite, and offered all that she had.
Simon was aggravated at the woman’s display of affection and privately peeved that Jesus wouldn’t rebuke her for touching Him. Jesus, as was His custom, already knew how Simon felt. He understood that Simon had judged the woman as merely a sinner, and nothing more. To Simon, she had no value. He judged her by her past and allowed no room for grace.
Jesus responded in the form of a parable.
“Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’
The beginning of the next verse sucks the air out of the room.
“Then he turned to the woman…”
He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”
The Greek word for “see” in this sentence holds far more meaning than taking in information with the eye. Jesus, the full embodiment of God, holder of every spiritual gift, was asking Simon if he discerned the woman in front of him. Jesus was inquiring if Simon could feel what the woman was doing. Jesus looked beyond the outward appearance and the flesh to see her heart.
Her tears and unimpeded emotional display reflected her heart. She acknowledged her sin and the depth of her need for forgiveness. She lavished these things on the One she knew could offer her that forgiveness.
Jesus’ reply to Simon, pointing out all that the woman had done that Simon had not, was probably not so much a reprimand of Simon as it was illustrating what the woman offered.
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’ [and] “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”
Ladies, perhaps you recognize yourself in the woman because you have “many sins.” Perhaps you see yourself in Simon, who wouldn’t lower himself to wash Jesus’ feet nor would he accept others who did. Maybe you hold others at arms’ length because of their “many sins.” Whatever the case, may our eyes be opened to see more than what’s right in front of us. May we perceive true motives in ourselves and others. May we be so humbly broken that we have no shame in throwing ourselves at the feet of the Lord. May we be so in love with our Savior that nothing is too low or menial for us to do to show our love.
Jesus revealed His discernment and grace by how He recognized this woman’s love in spite of her past. He offered her—freely and without expectation— forgiveness. He told her to go in peace, assured of her salvation received through her faith.
Let’s often take time to throw ourselves at the Savior’s feet. Regardless of how we may look or what others may think of us, let’s wet the feet of Jesus with the tears of our repentance and lavish on Him the beautiful aroma of our praise. He is worthy.
Written by Mandy.
Jesus, was truly a friend of sinners. Not because He enjoyed the sin of this world, but because He saw the heart. What a joyful time it must have been for Him each time someone had that "light bulb" moment and He got to discern the freshly changed being before Him! So often man looks at outward appearance, past mistakes, and the lack of immediate change in every area that we assume should now be sin-free. God gets to look at the heart and He asks us to move beyond our fleshly response and into a heavenly one that will allow us to do the same .
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