Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 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. 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.”
In this passage we see that Jesus is at a Pharisee’s house having dinner. I want you to picture this scene as it would have been in that culture. The table would have been low to the floor and everyone would have been lying on the floor reclined on one arm with their feet out to side or to the back. In comes a woman to the room and she gets down at Jesus feet and begins to weep, and wipe his feet with her hair, kissed them, and pours on them a bottle of perfume.
What you should know about that bottle of perfume is that it would have been worth more than a years worth of wages for her. And yes, it is likely she earned those wages in less than acceptable ways; possibly prostitution. What do you think would have caused this women to do such a lavish thing? To pour out all she had at the feet of Jesus in such a bold and emotional response? Can I share my theory with you?
The reason that I think we see the woman respond to Jesus in Luke 7 as she did is because before that time she had been alone with Jesus and he had confronted her sin but had offered her forgiveness. It could have looked much like what we see happen in John 8 when the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery and threatened to stone her. Jesus said that whom ever among them was without sin could throw the first stone. They all began to drop their stones and walk away. I wonder if Jesus had told this woman in Luke 7 that what she was acting like wasn’t who she really was, and she finally believed it. She could have heard it more than once from him but there was finally a time that she really believed what Jesus was saying was true. She really believed that she was forgiven and didn’t have to live in the pit she was in. And I just wonder if after she finally believed it one of her best paying customers might have come along for his weekly meeting and she was able to say NO for the first time. That she realized she was more valuable than that. The freedom she must have felt. Her response to this forgiveness was a bold and courageous uninvited visit to anoint the feet of Jesus and clean them with her tears.
What I want us to learn from this passage is not that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin; although he does; and not that we should have a loving and lavish response to that forgiveness, which we should; but I want us to learn from the Pharisees response.
Read it in Luke 7:39-48.
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 men 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 canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “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—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Can I share something with you? Not everyone involved and caught up in sin is having a great time. I know because I too have been involved in a pit of sin that I wanted nothing more than to find a way out of. Instead of a compassionate and grace filled response from people pointing me to Jesus for healing and forgiveness, I instead often encountered a Pharisee response from people ready and willing to point a finger and cast a stone. I am imploring you to not take on a Pharisee mindset when you see someone in sin. Yes offer them instruction and encourage them to not just walk away from the sin but to RUN. Yes hold them accountable and be bold to share with them God’s will for their lives. But please do not pick up the stone and threaten to throw it. You and I have to learn how to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Don’t be so quick to write people off just because you feel like they are a sinner. I have news for you….you too are a sinner. You too need forgiveness and grace from a loving God.
Some of us think “I would never throw the stone!”. Question for you: Do you go and gossip about someone caught in sin? Do you tell everyone else and air that persons dirty laundry all in the name of “prayer request”? That is throwing the stone. It’s not God’s way of dealing with sin. So today I am challenging you to take a good look at how you respond to other’s sin. Is it with pride, hostility, and a turned up nose. Or is it full of grace, mercy, godly instruction, and forgiveness? I pray for my sake and yours we choose the latter.