a woman standing in front of a rough ocean, her hair is so windblown it covers her face completely

Lessons From a Sinful Woman

I love the passage from Luke 7:36-50 where Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to a meal and a sinful woman, as Luke describes her, comes to Simon’s house to see Jesus.

With her she brings an alabaster jar of costly perfume. She knew Jesus would be eating at Simon’s house and she came prepared to offer this gift to Jesus. 

I try to imagine what her emotions would have been that day; surely she was nervous?

She slips quietly amongst the townspeople who have populated the perimeter of the courtyard where Jesus and   Simon are seated.

People from the town had arrived to listen to this visiting guest, as was the custom.

She would have come in unnoticed at first.

She knew she would not be welcome there, certainly, as she had a reputation; people knew her, knew about her, and doubtless she would have seen unfriendly faces staring, perhaps commenting, but she wanted to see Jesus, she wanted to be near Jesus, so she came anyway, regardless of the consequences. 

Scholars have noted that the woman may have been either an adulteress or a prostitute.

We know from verse 38 she had her hair down. Jewish women at that time would wear their hair up; in fact, some rabbis at the time taught that if a woman’s hair was down it was grounds for divorce.

Regardless of her exact circumstance, she would not have been welcome in the home of Simon the Pharisee.

The woman, now trembling, steps out from the shadows of the crowd. She moves towards Jesus. She’s close now; if she can only get a few feet further, she will be near His feet. 

In that culture, guests would recline at low tables for meals with their feet furthest from the table.

She kneels at His feet. She is exposed now to the reaction of the crowd and their hard gaze. Overcome with emotion, she begins to weep.

The Greek word used here in the text for the word “wet” is “brecho,” which means “rain.” Her tears rained down on Jesus’  feet in a heartfelt outpouring of deep affection.

Having no cloth or other means, she used what she had, her beautiful hair, and began to wipe Jesus’ feet. 

The mingling of her tears with her hair cleanses Jesus’ feet from the dirt of the road. She then begins to kiss His feet and anoint them with the costly perfume from the alabaster jar.

Simon sees her touching Jesus. He thinks to himself that if Jesus were a prophet, He would know what manner of woman was touching Him.

As a Pharisee, Simon would have been a strict law-keeper.

He would have been concerned with ritual purity.  To touch someone like the sinful woman had done would have made that person unclean, according to Pharisaical law. 

Simon would not have wanted to have anything to do with her. And it would have been unheard of for a person of her reputation to come into a Pharisee’s home and act as she had. 

She was courageous beyond measure. She didn’t care what the consequences were going to be, she was going to get to Jesus and she was going to anoint him with this perfume, regardless. 

What must Simon have thought as he watched her kiss Jesus’ feet? 

A kiss was a common greeting in those days. It would have been something that the host would do when you enter his house to greet visitors. 

Simon did not do this for Jesus, nor did he wash Jesus’ feet, another custom of the time. 

Feet were dirty.  People wore sandals.  A proper host would have had the guest’s feet washed immediately. 

Simon neglected both to greet Jesus and to have Jesus’ feet washed. 

The sinful woman, who Simon would have seen as inferior to himself, saw that this was not being done.  Seeing Simon’s neglect and wanting Jesus’ needs to be met, she washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

She listens as Jesus tells Simon the Parable of the Moneylender in which two people owe money and neither can repay the debt. Jesus asks Simon whether the one forgiven little or the one forgiven much will love more, to which Simon replies the one forgiven the greater debt. 

Jesus tells Simon he has judged correctly. 

He then turns to the sinful woman and says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

What joy! What delight! He sees her! He speaks to her! He forgives her. She is shaken to her core by His love and grace. 

In my mind’s eye, I see her now transformed; as she leaves, she nearly floats, so glorious has this past hour been. 

No longer aware of onlookers or mindful of their reproaches, the sinful woman is now the loved woman, the forgiven woman, the transfigured woman – a new creation in Christ.

What can we learn from the sinful woman?  

Simply this: She was courageous. Facing probable ridicule, perhaps taunts, definitely stares, she went amongst people who would look down on her and despise her in order to reach Jesus.  

She used what she had. She used her hair and her tears to wash Jesus’ feet in an outpouring of love for Christ, showering Him with gratitude and affection. 

She gave what she had. She gave her vial of expensive perfume freely and without reservation, lavishly pouring it on Jesus. 

She saw a need and she took care of it. Without invitation or hesitation, she did the things Simon should have done with little regard for herself.  

She loved much. Her heart was full of love for Jesus and she let it be shown with abandon.

May God help us to show lavish love, affection and gratitude to our Savior Jesus, using what we have, with courage, regardless of the consequences, regardless of the thoughts and opinions of others, let us recline at His feet that we too might hear Him say to all of us, “She loved much.”

Mary also creates Christian crossword puzzles and word searches. You can download her crossword puzzle, Alabaster Jar, by clicking here. Thank you, Mary, for sharing this with us!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *