A Sinful Woman Forgiven
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In this passage, we learn how Jesus loves and cares for a very sinful woman and Simon, a self-righteous Pharisee. We can deduce that both the woman and Simon have encountered Jesus, as news of his teaching, healing and forgiving of sins has traveled throughout the region. Perhaps because Simon's curiosity has been sparked and he thinks Jesus would make an interesting guest, Simon invites Jesus to dinner. The very sinful woman is the uninvited guest, and her arrival sets the stage for an inspiring and profound lesson.
It doesn't take much to imagine that one so labeled as this woman would feel very broken and wounded in spirit – a woman who was so sinful as to be considered unclean. What courage it must have taken for her to gather a jar of perfume and come to the home of Simon, a Pharisee. Surely she must have been one who had already heard Jesus' teachings and accepted his forgiveness and that hope led her to this very place. In direct contrast to Simon, the host, she lavishly welcomes Jesus, washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair and anointing them with her precious perfume.
Simon is shocked and can hardly believe his eyes! How on earth can Jesus allow that woman to touch him? Isn't Jesus a prophet? Simon is not only shocked, but he goes into full judgment mode. He is most certainly worried about appearances and what his other guests are thinking. After all, he is a Pharisee and thought he must live by and follow the rules! Jesus, as prophet, seems to read Simon's mind and know his concerns. However, instead of harshly rebuking him, Jesus uses this encounter as an inspiring teaching moment for Simon and those who would later learn of their encounter. In verse 47, Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” In closing, in verse 50, Jesus affirms the woman saying, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”
Heavenly Father, thank you for the forgiveness, hope and love expressed in Christ. Help me to accept your forgiveness with an open and loving heart. Amen.
How can I show lavish acceptance, love and forgiveness to others?