Summary: Jesus was very approachable, by all classes of people, as we shall see in today’s scripture lesson. It is the story of the sinful woman who worshiped Him, at a dinner given in the home of a well-to-do Pharisee.
A Sinful Woman Anoints Jesus
Jesus was very approachable, by all classes of people, as we shall see in today’s scripture lesson. It is the story of the sinful woman who worshiped Him, at a dinner given in the home of a well-to-do Pharisee. We have already read the scripture, so let’s look closely at what took place. The story begins with these words, “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.” We have to imagine the guests arriving and Simon the Pharisee welcoming them with all the suitable courtesies; and embracing each and every one in turn. Slaves were there to wash the dirt from their sandaled feet, and to pour sweet olive oil over their heads. But there was one of the guests who was not treated with respect. He was just a poor man, invited because His being there might prove to be entertaining to the other guests. No kiss of welcome was offered to Him, and the slaves did not wait on him with the luxuries that were provided the other guests. Jesus accepted the invitation, and came to the dinner, even though He knew the intentions of the one who invited Him.
There was at least one uninvited guest that evening, for we read, “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” We do not know who she was, only that she was a gentile and a well-known sinner, familiar to all that were there as an immoral person and a prostitute. She had been converted from her sinful life, at some point, by His preaching. She brought an alabaster box of expensive ointment with her. Christ was lying upon a bed or couch, as was the custom of the ancient Jews. His feet were out behind him, and between the couch and the wall was the space where the servants waited. It was there that the woman stood, unable to face Christ, weeping over her sins. Her eyes had been the inlets and outlets of sin, and now she makes them fountains of tears. Her face, which was at one time covered with make-up, was now smeared with tears. There she melted down to her knees, with the love of Christ that was in her heart. Her tears flooded down and began to wash His feet, as she bent to kiss them. She had not brought a towel, so she wiped His feet with her hair. To the Pharisee and his guests, this was a scandalous and repulsive spectacle, and despite the fact that none of them spoke up, we read, “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” Simon thought, “Ah-Ha! I have him now; He obviously knows nothing of the person that He is permitting to touch Him, and so He can’t be a prophet.” Public opinion was that Jesus was a prophet, but Simon reasoned that Jesus did not have either the wisdom or holiness that a prophet should have. He took it for granted that Christ did not know this woman personally, and that He did not know her character. But Jesus knows the character of every man and woman. He knew who the sinners were, and He knew that this woman was one, and that Simon was too. He also knew what the Pharisees were thinking. They thought of themselves as religious persons, and they wanted nothing to do with common people, particularly those with a bad character. He knew that they believed that the touch of this woman would pollute them. The Pharisees believed that if they touched the clothing of the common people, that they were corrupted, and for that reason, when they walked the streets, they walked on the sides, so that they wouldn’t be tarnished by the touch of the ordinary people. They assumed that Christ should have had the same dislike for this woman that they had, and that He should snub her.
But Christ, who is also God, knew not only the character of the woman and that she had been converted, but He also knew the secret thoughts and reasoning’s of the Pharisees, and when He answered them, He showed that He was more than a Prophet. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. Then Jesus gave this parable, “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” Five Hundred pence, was about $70.00, and fifty pence about $7:00. The debt of one was ten times that of the other. To put this into the proper perspective, you need to know that one pence was what a common worker got paid for a day’s labor, so one man owed 500 and the other 50 days. But make a note of the symbolism here, for in the parable the two debtors are like the woman and Simon, and the one to whom the debt is to be paid is God. The law at this time permitted a man to take his debtors to court, and the outcome could be that the debtor, his wife and his children could be sold to pay the debt. They would become slaves to their creditor or to another, but notice here that the man does not take them to court, but that he pardons their debt. They both appreciated his great kindness that he showed them by forgiving their debt, but Jesus asked the Pharisee, which one of them would love him, the most. What can we learn from this teaching of Our Lord? I believe that there are several things here for us: