Summary: The customs of the day allowed this woman to show her total devotion to Jesus and is in contrast to Simon’s refusal of Him. Hers is an example of how we should approach the master.
Introduction: Mother Teresa is a woman whose name has become synonymous with greatness. This correlation may have resulted from her philosophy of greatness. She simply believes, "We can do no great things; only small things with great love." Such words are reminiscent of our Lord’s immortal words on greatness in Mark 10:43, "...whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant." (All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum, 1989, p. 192)
Jesus had just left Capernium where he healed the Centurion’s servant. He entered the town of Nain where he raised the widow’s son. John’s disciples approached him, questioning whether or not he was truly the messiah, and were sent away with this message – “tell John not only what you have seen but what you have heard” (miracles and healing). Jesus then spoke to the crowd about John. It is after this discourse regarding the personage of John that the Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. As an itinerant preacher, Jesus was like Blanche Dubois in the play, "Streetcar Named Desire." He depended upon the kindness of strangers. Greater Galilee had not yet developed a hotel/motel industry. More over, Jesus left home without cash or an American Express card. If he and his followers were to get a meal or a place to spend the night, they would have to be guests of generous local people. Simon seems to be one of those “generous” local leaders. According to Luke the banquet setting was quite public. Those who were not invited to eat were still able to gather round the walls of the banquet room and the open courtyard as a sort of gallery, listening to, but not participating in the discussions or debates. Those who were invited reclined around the low, oriental style table, on couches or benches facing each other with their backs (and their feet) to the gathered crowds. Jesus arrives at Simon’s house. Simon either isn’t at the door, or allows other guests to draw his attention away from his obligation to greet Jesus. One commentator suggests that Simon deliberately neglected the customary greetings as a sort of joke, perhaps to get Jesus reaction or allow his friends a good laugh at the master’s expense. In any case a certain woman who had heard that Jesus had been invited to Simon’s house was present, her reputation was such that had they realized she was present someone would have probably asked her to leave. Let’s take a closer look, what do we see happening here?
Preposition: The customs of the day allowed this woman to show her total devotion to Jesus and is in contrast to Simon’s refusal of Him. Hers is an example of how we should approach the master.
Transition: This woman in this passage demonstrated her love for Jesus by performing the menial duties of a slave, (the little things), just as He would later do for his disciples in the upper room.
I. It was customary to wash your guest’s feet. A towel is a very commonplace thing; it comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. We have bath towels and beach towel, hand towels and dishtowels; every one of us owns several towels. We probably don’t think much about it until we can’t find one. I have a large family and occasionally I’ll be washing my hands for dinner or something and realize that there are no towels hanging on the racks. So I go to the linen closet with my dripping hands only to discover it empty. Being a typical man I yell down the stairs for help. Kathy tells me that Joey was in the closet and pulled them all out. Or the story may be that the toilet overflowed when Joshua flushed it, and that instead of telling his mother so she could get the mop he tried to use towels to clean it up, every clean towel in the house. Since she is currently in the process of washing them she brings me one out of the dryer so I can dry my hands. Anyone with children could tell you similar stories. But have you ever tried to dry your hands your hair? Have you ever tried to dry someone else’s hands with your hair? Do you see this woman? When Simon neglects his duty, this woman rushes to Jesus. She is crying so hard, that there’s enough water to wash Jesus’ dusty feet. Simon’s servants are no where in sight with the obligatory guest towels, so she uses her hair to dry his feet. It isn’t the crying that Simon thinks is embarrassing, it’s the thing that she does with her hair. Respectable women kept their hair pinned up tightly around their heads. Undoing one’s hair was sexually suggestive, whether the woman intended this or not. Simon watches the commotion--this unclean woman touching Jesus in such a socially and religiously unacceptable way. The woman in today’s text did use her hair, but it was to dry Jesus feet. We see here an unashamed act of contrition. We too should approach the master weeping for it is only his sacrifice that stands between eternal damnation and eternal joy.