Luke 7: 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
In this story we have a woman with a sinful past. It seems that everybody knew her story. What would cause a women so slighted in the community to come to a dinner involving Pharisees? In verse 37 it says, “she learned that he was reclining at the Pharisee’s house.” She learned that Jesus was near. He had performed all types of miracles by this time: healing the sick, raising the dead, and forgiving people’s sin. He had also preached, “come to me all that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This woman was so desperate to see the man that had changed lives she no longer cared what she had to do. She was no longer concerned about the whispers behind her back. She no longer cared that people were judging her even though they did not truly know her. Once her eyes were set on Jesus she left everything else behind. I can see it now as she moves through the crowd, tears streaming; the whispers, the shocked faces, and the sighs of disbelief. Not only did she move to the front, she crossed the line. She entered into a place where now she stands all by herself, and all eyes were on her. I am sure everyone held their breath as they wondered what would happen. Scripture says her tears wet His feet, and then she began wiping them with her hair. Then she pulls out the perfume and anoints His feet. Oil was very expensive during this time and would certainly not be commonly used on someone’s feet. But for the ridiculed women this was worship because she has been made aware of the presence of God. I think the perfume represents her sin, her faith, and her sacrifice all in one bottle. She had worked in a sinful profession in order to buy this very expensive perfume, so in essence it contained her sin. When she comes before the Lord, she is compelled to lay it all at His feet. She literally pours out her sins before Him believing He can change her life. As she pours out her sin (oil), a wonderful aroma of forgiveness fills the air. She has been obedient to God by pouring out her sin and giving up her most valuable possession.
When is the last time our actions have caused confusion or disbelief because it was so different than what the world expects? Are we willing to cross the line and stand all by ourselves for something we believe? Are we willing to have people whisper behind our back because our parenting is strict and old fashioned? Are we willing to have people call us radical? Are we willing to sacrifice comfort for holiness? This woman was so aware of the presence of God it compelled her to go out of the ordinary to experience the extraordinary.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he 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 wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss 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 are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at 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.”
Don’t miss verse 39 when it says, “The Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." The Pharisee was not talking out loud yet in the next sentence Jesus answered his thought. Outside appearance does not fool the Lord. Once again, Jesus saw the inner man, the heart. The front of the story is so compelling, exciting, and encouraging. However, the ending is sad. Who should have recognized God’s presence in this room more than anyone? The Pharisee. He would have spent hours reading the scrolls, purifying himself, and praying to God. He was well versed in all scripture, but failed to see the presence of God sitting right in front of him. He did all the right activities, but with the wrong heart. In this scripture not only was he not in awe; He did not even offer the common hospitality of water for Jesus’ feet or the customary kiss on the cheek. Simon should have been the most compassionate and understanding, and administered the most love; yet he was the most condemning and judgmental. Because he failed to recognize God's presence, Simon missed the worship before Him. I wonder how many times we fail to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. The Holy Spirit is God’s power, presence, and strength dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit allows us to have God with us all the time. The Holy Spirit allows us to accomplish task, which we never could do on our own.
There are two people represented in this story. Simon a wealthy diplomat who had a vast amount of scripture knowledge, but failed to recognize the presence of God right before him. The other, an unnamed woman who was so overwhelmed by her need for a Savior; she put everything on the line. Who are we most like today? Someone who is willing to stand-alone and put it all on the line, or someone who will be satisfied hearing what Jesus has done for others? It is time to move across the line and take our stand.
Stephen F Olford said, “The greatest sin of the Old Testament was they failed to believe in God. The greatest sin of the New Testament was they failed to believe in the Son. The greatest sin today is that we fail to believe in the power of Holy Spirit.”