Jesus made his way to a formal and rather stuffy dinner party one day. In human terms, many important religious figures had arrived when a lady of ‘reputation’ walked in from the street and made the most surprising entrance. She got down on her knees to wet Jesus’ feet with her tears. She wiped them with her HAIR, kissed them and poured an expensive perfume on them. Now, if you want to attract attention, that’s the way to do it. It not only attracted attention, but also a huge dose of chronic disapproval and censorship.
Wearing a big open wound, this woman expressed the depths of her love to Jesus openly and without fear. That’s what God saw. If she was concerned about what others might think, she could have waited until Jesus was alone somewhere away from the crowd, but she chose to show her love overtly. Washing feet was a common courtesy paid to guests in the Jewish traditions of that time, but somehow it was omitted. After all if only the important men were attending, who would attend to the important men?
Tricky question aye? In any case, the woman showed that common courtesy in a most extraordinary way! She threw herself at the Lord’s feet, but not in a sensual, erotic passion as the teachers of the Law interpreted it, but with pure spiritual ardor. What does this impassioned display have to do with us? What does it mean?This story is clearly not a call to do embarrassing things in public. It is not about wearing our emotions on our sleeve or being an open book to everyone. The message is that we urgently need God if we want true healing and forgiveness. Simon and his elite group rejected the woman because Pharisees measured love by external obedience. They were rigid in their viewpoint that it was impossible for them to believe a prostitute could ever change and turn to God.
The woman recognized her sin was great, so her gratitude to God was great. The Scribe saw his sin as small and insignificant, so his gratitude to God was small. Jesus’ conclusion was that “her many sins had been forgiven – for she loved much. But the self righteous person believes he has little to be forgiven. Therefore, the idea behind this message is that God’s love is relevant only to those who recognize their brokenness, and not those who think they are healthy. One commentator wrote that in Biblical thought, man’s act of sin was regarded as a loss of freedom and a loss of his or her humanity. In Christ, we regain freedom and our humanity is restored.
-- TR © 2008