Summary: The story of the sacrifical faith of the woman who fell at Jesus’ feet and washed his feet with her tears.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 18
A Sacrificial Faith
We have before us this morning a record of the worship of woman who falls at the feet of Jesus in worship. We are never told her name. Luke does not record a single word spoken by the woman in her sacrificial act of worship. Wordless worship now there is a thought. But her worship was so profound that Jesus uses her as an example to a very proud religious leader.
Let me say by way of introduction that each of the gospels has an account of the washing of Jesus’ feet by a woman (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14: 3-9, John 12:1-8 and in today’s text in Luke). The accounts of Matthew, Mark and John all deal with the same incident, but the one recorded in Luke is a unique incident, recorded only in his gospel. Turn in your Bible to Luke chapter seven and verse thirty-six as we look at this remarkable story of sacrificial faith.
“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. (37) And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil,”
Jesus is invited for a meal into the home of a religious leader (a Pharisee) by the name of Simon (v. 40, 43-44). We really don’t know what prompted this invitation. It does not seem that Simon believed in Jesus or loved Jesus because he did not extend to him the normal hospitality. Common courtesy for the day would have been that as soon as Jesus entered the house of Simon, he would have been greeted with a kiss, His feet would have been washed and His head anointed with oil. The absence of such normal hospitality suggest an underlaying animosity on the part of Simon which Jesus will address in verses 44-46. Simon seems to have purposefully omitted the common courtesies accorded to any honored guest. Simon treated Jesus with practiced cool contempt. He carefully avoided every custom that would have made Jesus feel welcome. And you cannot help but think that all the guest noticed it as well.
In sharp contrast to Simon, a woman enters the room because she wants to find Jesus, who she had undoubtedly heard was a friend of sinners. And she was well qualified in that department.
Our English translation does not convey the shock that the entrance of this woman made, when it says “when a woman” it is literally “And look a woman!” The shock was primarily because of this woman’s reputation. The text tells us that she was a sinner (a person of bad reputation and character, it is suggested that she was a prostitute) but whatever her sin, she was a woman of considerable notoriety. Her desire is to find Jesus and when her eyes finally rest on Him, the other guest fade into a mist of tears; it suddenly doesn’t matter what these respectable people think about her. All that she sees is Jesus.
According to verse thirty-eight, “ and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.” She knelt at the feet of Jesus with the perfume she had brought with the purpose of anointing his feet. Then an unexpected complication arose, she was weeping so uncontrollably that her tears began to fall on Jesus’ dusty feet.
No doubt embarrassed she searches desperately from something to wipe the feet of Jesus, but had no come prepared for this eventually. Mortified that her tears had fallen on the feet of Jesus, she takes the one thing available to her, she lets down her long hair and begins to dry his feet. But the more she wipes with her hair, the more tears that fall. She uses the water of her tears to wash His feet, something that could hardly have been planned in advance. She then began to kiss his feet. In fact the text uses a verb form which means “to kiss again and again,” she repeatedly kissed his feet. There is nothing erotic in what she is doing.
This woman is self-forgetting mess – crying unashamedly, her nose running with weeping, her hair wet with a muddy mixture of tears and dirt.
As the sweet fragrance of her sacrifice fills the room anyone who was not aware of this woman’s actions, became so. All eyes are on Jesus what will he do. He doesn’t appear to be either embarrassed or upset at the extravagance of this display of love and devotion. What she did she did remarkably well she worshiped. This woman’s worship was at great personal cost. It cost here the expensive vial of perfume, it cost her the humility to kiss, wash and dry with her hair the dirty feet of the Lord. Perhaps the greatest cost she faced was the scorn and rejection of the self-righteous Pharisee and his dinner guest. No one had invited her. She was not wanted here. She probably would be scorned and she might be thrown out. But none of those things mattered, her desire to see and worship Jesus were greater than her fear. The price that she had to pay may be high, but to her it was worth it.