Today I’ve got another amazing story of Jesus embracing a single woman who seemed ‘less than’ to other members of the community. The story starts in Luke 7:37 with Jesus eating dinner at a Pharisee named Simon’s house. Now in those days, the Pharisees were the elite of the religious world. They knew the Bible forwards and backwards and loved holding their vast knowledge over other people’s heads and telling them all the things they were doing wrong. The Pharisees took pride in following all of the commandments written in the Bible. Now this isn’t a bad goal, but they often missed the point. Their hearts weren’t in what they were doing. They only embraced the rule following and judgment, not the love and compassion.
I’m sure that Simon felt a great deal of pride that Jesus was coming to his home for dinner! I sure would! I’d want everything to be just as perfect as it could be. I’d be calling all my friends to ask for their best recipes and frantically googling which glasses you’re actually supposed to use to serve white wine, since I’m sure it’s not red Solo cups. Simon probably had everything planned to perfection that night. While Jesus and Simon were eating dinner, an uninvited guest appeared. A woman come through the door. She came inside and immediately fell to floor and began weeping and pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet. She was so emotional and weeping so much that the Bible says she was actually washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.
Simon was not very excited about the surprise guest crashing his carefully planned dinner party. The Bible doesn’t even tell us this woman’s name. It simply says she was a woman who had lived “a sinful life.” Imagine if that was your reputation - a sinful woman. This woman had heard that Jesus was in town and knew she had to see him. I’m not totally sure how she knew where Jesus was without the benefit of a Snap Map or location tagging. I guess it’s safe to say people gossiped just as much back then as they do today. As soon as the woman heard Jesus would be in town, she knew she had to see him. I think that this says a lot about this woman’s faith. She understood who Jesus was, and she knew Him to be a loving, forgiver of sins. She was bold enough to crash a dinner party so that she could honor Jesus. She didn’t let the fear of embarrassment or her reputation prevent her from seeking out Jesus (Luke 7:37).
Simon simply could not believe that Jesus was allowing this woman to clean his feet. He asked Jesus, “Do you know who she is? Do you know about all her sins?” Jesus then schooled Simon in front of all his fancy dinner guests, by explaining to him what the sinful woman already knew, that he is a God of love and mercy and forgiveness (Luke 7:39).
Jesus told the Pharisee a story of two men who both owe debts to a money lender. One owes five hundred silver pieces and the other only owes fifty. Jesus asked the Pharisee, “If the money lender cancels both debts, which of the two men would be more grateful?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one with the bigger debt (Luke 7:43).”
Jesus then got to the heart of the issue by saying, “She has been forgiven for many, many sins and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal (Luke 7:47).”
Jesus looked to the woman. I can't imagine how she felt to have Jesus looking her in the eyes. I'd imagine this was the most genuine look of love and compassion she'd had in quite some time. Most of the people she interacted with were likely looking down on her in a judgemental way, not loving her.
He said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace. (Luke 7:50)” This is such a great example of Jesus’ love. He doesn’t care where you come from or what you’ve done. Maybe you are hesitant to seek Jesus because He seems judgey and wouldn’t accept you if they knew all the things you have done. I promise you that is not the truth! God is full of grace and forgiveness! God will use all the hardships you have been through to bring you closer to Him. God’s immense forgiveness will enable you to love Him with reckless abandon and to really see how wide and tall and vast and endless the love of God is! Never think that God cannot forgive and use you!
There are very few women mentioned in the Bible, and yet, the story of this ‘sinful woman’ is told not once, but twice! The story is also recorded in Mark 14. That account gives a few more details about what the other party guests thought of the woman’s gesture of kindness. The other party guests were immediately indignant and judgmental. I think that sadly, this is how many church goers would’ve reacted if this situation unfolded in modern times.
I pray that if your experience has given you a negative connotation of the modern church, that your experience will not stop you from seeking God! Know that we are not all like that- at least we’re daily striving not to be. If you find a church where you do not feel accepted you are at the wrong church- keep seeking. God will reward your effort to draw near to him. Many who have been raised in the church have not been forgiven much, therefor the gratitude is minimal. This leads to a small view of God and his love.
Don’t let fear keep you from seeking God. Bust right into the dinner party you weren’t invited to, show up at the church you feel left out of, boldly and proudly go wherever you need to in order to meet Jesus again. He is waiting for you!