Summary: A demonstration of divine and human love intermingling.
I LIKE LOVE STORIES. I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic. In Luke, chapter 7, we find a love story of the highest sort. It is not a romance; it’s far above that. It’s the story of one woman’s devotion to her God.
The scene is the courtyard of the house of Simon the Pharisee. Whenever a guest would arrive in a home such as this, three things would always take place: (1) the host gave a kiss of peace, especially to a rabbi; (2) cool water would be poured over the guest’s dusty feet; (3) a drop of attar of roses would be placed on his head.
But why did Simon, a Pharisee, invite Jesus to his home? Pharisees looked down upon peasant, itinerant preachers. We can only speculate, of course, but perhaps it was simply curiosity on Simon’s part. Or it might have been that he wanted to entice him to do or say something contrary to the Law. Then again, perhaps Simon was a collector of celebrities and he wanted to patronize Jesus.
And what of the woman who displayed such affection? Who was she? Probably a prostitute; her unbound hair was an act of gravest immodesty. Around her neck she wore, like all Jewish women of that time, a little container of concentrated perfume which was very expensive.
LOVE POURED OUT
There were two love pourings that day, in the home of Simon.
1. Woman—a baptismal service of sorts, i.e., a baptismal of love (vs. 38)
Alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus’ feet
Tears on His feet—to cleanse them
Kissed His feet (Greek indicates it was done “repeatedly”)
Illustration: “800 Pacos Showed Up”
The story is told of a father and his teenage son who had a relationship that had become strained to the point of breaking. Finally the son ran away from home. His father, however, began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read: “DEAR PACO, MEET ME IN FRONT OF THE NEWSPAPER OFFICE AT NOON. ALL IS FORGIVEN. I LOVE YOU. YOUR FATHER.”
The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office, 800 “Pacos” showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. Can it be doubted that this woman of the streets was seeking the forgiveness of Christ? She gave Him the best that she had—her tears, her possessions, her love.
2. Jesus—another outpouring of love
To the woman, because He let her do it! She needed to express her confession and love. As she washed the filth from His feet, He washed the filth from her heart.
To Simon—in the sense that it was a lesson in forgiveness
To the guests—a lesson in love for the least
Jesus Has Something to Say (vs. 40)—“Simon, I have something to tell you.”
1. Jesus always has something to say. No hour of need finds Him silent. He can address the need of every human heart.
2. He has something to say when everybody else is silent. When the woman entered all present were struck with dumb silence. They could not believe that she dared enter this place.
3. Jesus has something to say to those separated from Him by great distances—separated by sin, as in the case of Simon who was next to Him physically, but far from Him spiritually.
4. Jesus has something personal to say. “Simon, I have something to tell YOU.” He could read Simon’s thoughts, as expressed in verse 39.
5. Jesus has something to say to those who are seeking forgiveness. He said to the woman in verse 50: “Your faith has saved you.” She never said a word but He knew what was in her heart. She had already expressed her faith in three ways:
By coming to this dinner party in the first place
By ignoring everyone except Jesus
By weeping and giving Him a precious gift
A Contrast of Attitudes
This incident demonstrates a contrast between two attitudes of mind and heart:
1. Simon: conscious of no need; felt no love; received no forgiveness
2. Woman : conscious of nothing other than a desperate need; overwhelmed with love for Jesus; received forgiveness
We don’t know exactly how Simon reacted, but he is exposed. He knew everything about religion, liturgy, theology, ethics, temple worship, and the Law. He knew all about the things of God. But somehow he missed the essence of it all, which this woman captured. You see, this woman knew how sinful she was. Simon’’ problem was that he thought he was better than he was and he misunderstood the nature of God who is the giver of unconditional love.