Jesus was set up. This time it was in the house of a Pharisee named Simon. This religious leader invited Jesus to dine in his home, but he was only looking for a mistake, or an inconsistency, or anything that would allow him to rationalize his fear of Jesus and His teachings.
A “woman of the city” let herself in. Everyone knew she was a sinner. Perhaps her reputation preceded her. Maybe she just dressed the part. But, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was a sinner.
What could motivate a “woman of the city” to enter the house of a religous leader? She knew Jesus was there. What determination! What devotion! What faith! Her actions in the Pharisee’s house only further proved her faith: she washed Jesus’ feet with her own tears and her own hair. What humility!
The reactions of Jesus and Simon were polar opposites. At first neither said a word, but they were not ignorant of her actions. The Pharisee was disdainful of both the woman and the incredible recipient of her services. He had found the mistake that he was looking for, and he proceeded to convince himself that Jesus could not be a holy prophet of God because Jesus did not know that a sinner was washing His feet.
Jesus was grateful to the woman and angry with Simon. After telling a story about the value of forgiveness, Jesus proceeded to point to the wonderful service that the sinful woman had done in washing His feet with her tears and hair, and the honor she showed Him in kissing His feet and anointing them with ointment. He also rebuked the Pharisee for not showing proper hospitality.
Jesus accepted this sincere, sinful woman, and He forgave her. He did not just tolerate her presence, but He accepted her humble affection. He let all in the house know how much He appreciated what the woman was doing. Jesus was a perfect example of love.
Simon barely gave the woman notice, except that she was interacting with Jesus. When he did think about her he could only think about how great a sinner she was, and about how horrible it was that Jesus would allow such a woman to touch Him. He was condescending, condemning, and unforgiving, even though it was only in thought. Simon was a perfect example of arrogance.
Here are the questions we need to ask ourselves:
If this sinful “woman of the city” showed up in your congregation next Sunday morning, and if she did some things that made you a little uncomfortable, how would she be treated? What impression would she walk away with? Would she feel like she was with Christ that morning, or like she was in the house of another Pharisee? Would you love her, and would she be convinced of it?
(You can read this story for yourself in Luke 7:36-50.)