She Was a Sinner
One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now, when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
For context, read Luke 7:36-50
Sister, I don’t know your story, but I am willing to assume that many of my readers can identify with people calling them “a sinner.” Maybe you feel like you would be unwelcome among religious leaders, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day because your sins were made public. Or maybe, you are thankful that your sins are secret because if anyone knew your past, you are sure that you would be shunned by your Christian friends. If that sounds like you, read on and be encouraged.
She isn’t listed by her name, but it says she was “a woman of the city” and “a sinner” which indicates that she was likely a prostitute. Regardless of the true nature of her sins, Jesus later says her sins were many (v. 47). Sin was a part of her lifestyle before she met Jesus.
It’s likely she had heard Jesus teaching in the city. Perhaps she heard stories of Him healing the sick or witnessed a miracle. She knew who Jesus was and she knew that He was the One who could help her. She didn’t need physical healing. She didn’t need something for her pain, she needed something for her shame. She needed to know that she was forgiven.
So when she heard that Jesus was at the Pharisee’s house, she went to Him. She would not have been an invited guest. First, because she was a woman and Pharisees did not dine with women in public. Second, because she was a woman with a bad reputation. Her kind would not have been welcome. So, how did she get in? Most likely, she mingled around with spectators at this banquet and waited for her opening. It was not uncommon for spectators to hover around at these types of dinners because important dignitaries were present. Spectators were often allowed to enter the open banquet hall and speak with guests in attendance.
Jesus was reclining at a low table so His feet would have been stretched out behind Him. Once she saw her chance, she took her expensive ointment and anointed His feet and wept. Tears of shame. Tears of repentance. Tears asking for forgiveness. Can you imagine the amount of courage it would have taken for her to do this? She came to a public event that she was not invited to, where she was certainly not welcome, to seek forgiveness for her sins with the “religious” people watching!
Contrast her humility with the Pharisee host, Simon. With disdain, he thought about how Jesus should have known who she was and what she had done. In his mind, he called her a sinner but he did not identify himself as a sinner at all. Jesus read his thoughts to prove to Simon that He does know everything. Jesus answered with a parable about two debtors who both owed money. One owed a little but one owed a lot. When the lender canceled both of the debts, Jesus asked Simon which one will love the lender more. Simon rightly identified that the one with the greater debt will be the most grateful and will love the lender the most.
Then Jesus said, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven....Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:44-48, 50)
The sinful woman had a correct view of herself in God’s eyes. She knew she was a sinner. She knew she needed mercy. Simon was blinded by his pride. He thought his legalism made him “holier than thou.” Simon was not repentant at all but the woman repented and extravagantly poured out her love for Jesus in gratitude. And she was forgiven. The WORD about women in the story of the sinful woman is that you have never sinned too much to humbly approach Jesus seeking forgiveness. Pour out your shame and leave it at Jesus’s feet. He is faithful to forgive.
Are there any sins you need to humbly confess and lay at Jesus’s feet today?
PrayJesus, I know that I am not worthy of Your forgiveness and yet You have forgiven me anyway. Thank You for your mercy and grace. Amen.