Simon the Pharisee
36 A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee’s home and got ready to eat.
37 When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. 38 Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them.
39 The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Teacher, what is it?” Simon replied.
41 Jesus told him, “Two people were in debt to a moneylender. One of them owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. 42 Since neither of them could pay him back, the moneylender said that they didn’t have to pay him anything. Which one of them will like him more?”
43 Simon answered, “I suppose it would be the one who had owed more and didn’t have to pay it back.”
“You are right,” Jesus said.
44 He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn’t give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You didn’t even pour olive oil on my head, but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. 47 So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.”
48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 Some other guests started saying to one another, “Who is this who dares to forgive sins?”
50 But Jesus told the woman, “Because of your faith, you are now saved.May God give you peace!”
Women Who Helped Jesus
8 Soon after this, Jesus was going through towns and villages, telling the good news about God’s kingdom. His twelve apostles were with him, 2 and so were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and all sorts of diseases. One of the women was Mary Magdalene,who once had seven demons in her. 3 Joanna, Susanna, and many others had also used what they owned to help Jesus and his disciples. Joanna’s husband Chuza was one of Herod’s officials.
This story of the washing of Jesus feet, completes the theme this week of forgiveness. I love the story of the woman who comes to Jesus.
She is considered sinful. She is not one of the nice ladies of the town. Imagine if the Queen were coming. I’m sure we would select someone to present her with flowers with care. We wouldn’t choose some hoi polloi, never mind worse. We would choose someone worthy, deserving in some way. But this woman doesn’t let that worry her. She has something she wants to do for Jesus and she is going to do it.
She cries her own tears to wash Jesus feet with. She is under no illusions about who she is – and clearly under none about who Jesus is either. Yet she cleans, dries and anoints his feet with a very precious offering of herself.
Neither is Jesus under any misunderstanding about who she is. He doesn’t mistake her for anyone else, he knows her background and what people say about her. He also sees her need of making this offering to him. Simon and the others in the room, who no doubt considered themselves upright members of society, faultless and blameless, have not even offered him a bowl of water – she has done this most intimate of acts in a most intimate of ways. She not just throws herself at his feet, but ministers to him too.
She knew she wasn’t worthy, and in being so aware, made herself worthy. She knew she needed forgiveness and so was able to receive it. Those who didn’t understand that they had got anything wrong, could not know that forgiveness.
Do I need forgiveness? Or have I got everything right in life? Am I sitting pretty? Or knowing my need of forgiveness?
Jesus I come to you,
Just as I am,
knowing my need of forgiveness,
and your willingness to give it.