“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 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. 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. 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.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’ ‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said. ‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 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?’ Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said. 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. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”
She was known in the town and it was not for anything good. She was recognized as a woman who did not have a stellar reputation. She was known as a sinner.
She heard Jesus was going to be at the Pharisee’s house. During this time, it would not have been unusual for someone to sort of “crash” the party. Onlookers often came to watch a meal go on, especially if someone important was there. And Someone very important was there. It was Jesus and she needed His forgiveness.
Jesus reclined at the table. His feet were visible and she stood behind Him weeping. Taking an alabaster flask of perfume, she wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and poured the perfume over His feet.
The Pharisee recognized the woman and 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.”
Jesus knew the woman. He also knew the Pharisee and He peered right into the hearts of both. This Pharisee was self-righteous. He believed himself to be pure and clean. This woman knew she was unrighteous. She knew she was a sinner in need forgiveness and had come to the feet of the Savior.
Jesus knows each of us, and He peers right into our hearts.
Jesus had a story to share with the Pharisee. He explained that two men both owed money to a money lender. One owed fifty denarii and the other owed five hundred. Denarii represented about a day’s wages. So, one of them owed about a month and half’s salary and the other about a year and a half’s salary. The moneylender cancelled the debt of both. Which one of them would love him more?
Simon responded that he supposed the one who had the greater debt cancelled.
“You have judged correctly.” Jesus answered.
When Jesus came to the house Simon had offered no water for His feet. There had been no kiss of welcome. There was no anointing oil for His head.
Jesus told Simon that this woman had not ceased to kiss, cleanse, and anoint His feet. She had much that needed to be forgiven, so she loved much, and it was evident.
Simon, the Pharisee, thought he had little to be forgiven, so he loved little and that was also evident.
Jesus looked at the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
As soon as she came to Jesus her sins were forgiven. As soon as we come to Jesus our sins are forgiven.
Those at the table marveled, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Indeed “Who is this?”
It is Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, and He told her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This woman came as a sinner, but went away whole, forgiven, cleansed.
Simon, the Pharisee, did not.
It was not because he couldn’t be.
It was because he didn’t think he needed to be.