Summary: Examines the people at this event.
“The Alabaster Box”
September 30, 2012
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This is such a fascinating event in Jesus’ life. The obvious thing is the woman and the alabaster box of perfume – but there is so much more. Let’s spend a little time in studying this well known event.
First of all, there is Simon. We know a little bit about Simon, the one whose house Jesus went to. Luke records him as being a Pharisee. A Pharisee was a very devoted follower of God. They sought to be pure and pious. They considered themselves to be especially loved of God. It appears to me that at their beginning they probably had good and pure intentions. But, as so often happens with second hand holiness, the emphasis was not on relationship with God – but on rules – as a way of pleasing God. And as they got good at keeping those man-made rules – pride crept in. Spiritual pride kills relationships – relationship with people and relationship with God. Simon was a part of that.
But the point I want you to see about Simon was that he belonged to a very holy and religious sect. He was a very religious man. He was well educated in the Scriptures. He had some very definite ideas of man’s relationship with God. Understand this about Simon - he loved God. He was proud of his religion. Is this why He invited Jesus to His home? Maybe!
We also know something else about Simon. He was a leper, according to Matthew and Luke. Apparently he had been healed. We know this because lepers were outcasts – and Simon was no longer an outcast. Some scholars suggest that he may have been one of the lepers Jesus healed. We don’t know. But Jesus healed many lepers and this incident happened toward the end of his ministry. Maybe Simon invited Jesus to dinner in appreciation for being healed. We don’t know. It is purely speculation. But it is plausible.
This we do know. Simon was a Pharisee and was or had been a leper at one time – AND he invited Jesus to his home for dinner.
If Simon was a leper at one time and was outcast – he probably got to know the outcasts pretty well. He may have known this woman at her worst. He may have observed her plying her trade. We don’t know. He may have known her as belonging to his own household, otherwise how could she have been there? We aren’t sure. But we know he considered her a sinner.
So I see Simon as someone Jesus loves. Someone Jesus possibly healed. Jesus dealt with Simon gently and compassionately as He corrected his thinking. He could have sternly corrected him or rebuked him. But He didn’t. He told Simon a little story to get His point across. That tells me Jesus valued Simon. Jesus loved Simon. He goes to Simon’s house for dinner. He takes the time to teach a lesson with a story. That shows me the gentleness and love of Jesus.