Summary: A remarkable thing happened at a dinner intended to be political. Too, this is about women's roles in society and how we should protect reputations and the changing power of God.
The Pharisee’s Lady
Today, we begin with a question; who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
The answer is; Pharaoh’s daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.
The scripture passage we examine today is Luke 7:36 through the eighth chapter, third verse. Through the years this passage has been misinterpreted and misunderstood, since primarily male teachers have had inclinations to think sin all about women, when the subject actually includes men’s responses to our Lord. Last week you learned how women have been maligned for thousands of years because of misunderstandings that goes back to the ancient Hebrew language. Now that women have taken a much more prominent role in society and the church, it’s normal behavior that jokes would be made to ease men’s discomfort with these changes. A couple of examples are:
Did you hear about the guy who finally figured out women? He died laughing before he could tell anybody.
Here’s another. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? None, feminists can’t change anything.
Okay, just one more. What do you call a Chinese woman with an opinion? Wong!
Any belittling opinion about women expressed in the Bible has never come from Messiah or His Father, but from a point of human prejudice. Jesus has corrected such attitudes. One of the most famous is the story of the woman who was brought near Yeshua then accused of adultery. Read the whole story in John the eighth chapter. This is where the accusing men were told, “The one of you who has never sinned, throw the first stone.”
John 7:36 and on, has a similar attitude. This is where a Pharisee of Jacob’s tribe approached the Christ and asked him to have dinner with him. So, Jesus went in and reclined, as guests normally did. It is certainly curious that the Pharisee, whose name is Simon, would allow a woman with questionable character in the house at all, particularly when this well-known guest, Jesus, was there to be supposedly entertained. This Pharisee was a ranking member of a political party, one of four parties operating at the time, and a Jew. So we know his reputation among the people was important to his ambitions. Still, she was not only allowed in the house, but wasn’t stopped when she began honoring Christ with an anointing of a different kind. Simon, whose name means “to hear intelligently” may have watched this event or been busy in the kitchen while other guests were witnesses.
This is where this scene turns very interesting. Imagine Yeshua in the reclining position near a table loaded with bread, grapes, meat and cheese. There’s fine wine in front of Him as well. We also know that this woman is approaching Jesus from behind, as she focused on his feet, which were elevated in His position of honor. In her hand was an alabaster cruse of perfume. The cruse was expensive and so was the perfume. Who purchased this stuff; Simon? Custom of the time was that a servant, normally a child, would wash a guest’s feet with water. The perfume was available only in wealthy homes. If this woman was not invited or a resident of the house, she would have told the child servant to stay back so she could approach Jesus. Given her reputation and the Pharisee’s desire to impress Messiah, I can’t imagine that the owner of the house even knew she had come in. Verse 39 indicates surprise from the host that she was there.
What did she do with this opportunity? Her intention was to honor Him with expensive perfume so His feet would smell great. Instead, when she approached, her emotions took over, knowing what this Man was about and that He was not only remarkable, but One who could forgive her sins. As she stood over His feet, tears flowed as she wept, so much so that His feet were wet. Forget the towel, she used her hair, no doubt much softer than the rough cloth, to dry those tears. Now, she kissed His feet and gently rubbed the perfume over those tired feet, then continued kissing them.
What a scene! What did the Pharisee do? How did this man respond? We have his thoughts! If this man were a prophet (he is thinking) he would have known who she is and her reputation; for the woman who has touched him is a sinner! This was an “ah-ha” moment for this politician, who wasn’t all that thrilled that Yeshua was so popular that He could steal his notoriety. Is it possible that Jesus was an enemy in his mind, and this dinner was to find out how serious a threat Messiah really was?
Let’s reason for a moment how this scene could happen. Had this woman touched the Pharisee before? We don’t know for sure, but she certainly knew where the Pharisee’s house was, and also knew where the dining hall was as well. Isn’t it reasonable that she had at least been following either Messiah or the Pharisee, named Simon, to the residence? Was she a stalker or had she done business with Simon before? Besides, Simon not only knew her, but her reputation. Somehow, a previous or on-going relationship appears more than likely between these two. Of course, we know that today, there are no illicit relationships between politicians and women! Your laughter does not need to be silent. If Simon knew her that way, why would he be condemning her reputation and not his own? Jesus took the opportunity to address that very question.