36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” 40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
Luke records the worship of woman who falls at the feet of Jesus, we do not know her name or even a single word she spoke, only her sacrificial act of worship. Wordless worship, now there is a thought! This act of fearless faith occurred in the home of a religious leader named Simon who had invited Jesus to dine with him. We really don’t know what prompted this invitation but we do know that Simon did not extend the normal hospitality. Common courtesy of the day would have called for Jesus to have been greeted with a kiss, His feet would have been washed and His head anointed with oil as soon as he entered Simons home. Simon seems to have treated Jesus with cool contempt having avoided every custom that would have made Jesus feel welcome. In sharp contrast to Simon this woman enters the home because she wants to find Jesus, the friend of sinners. Our English translation fails to convey the complete shock that her entrance made because of her reputation. The text tells us that she was a sinner, a person of bad reputation and character, some have suggested that she was a prostitute. Yet whatever her sin, she was a woman of considerable notoriety. What intrigues me most is her desire to find and worship Jesus regardless of what others think and in spite of not being invited. So often I let the voices of others invade and influence my pursuit of Jesus, holding back from seeking His presents because I don’t feel worthy to be invited to dine. Yet here was a woman of the world falling at His feet in faith and when her eyes finally rest on Him everyone else fades into a mist of tears. In the presence of the Savior it doesn’t matter what these respectable people think about her, all she sees is Jesus. What if we were to seek the Savior with all of our heart instead of getting sidetracked by the pain of our past or our present problems? She knelt at the feet of Jesus prepared with the perfume she had brought for the purpose of anointing his feet when I believe an unexpected complication arose. She began to weep so uncontrollably that her tears began to fall on Jesus’ dusty unwashed feet. No doubt embarrassed she searches desperately from something to wipe the feet of Jesus, so she takes the one thing available to her, she lets down her long hair and begins to dry his feet. But the more she wipes with her hair, the more tears that fall. The water of her tears wash His feet, something I doubt that was planned in advance. She then began to kiss his feet, in fact the text uses a verb form which means “to kiss again and again,” she repeatedly kissed his feet. Here she is an absolute mess, crying unashamedly, her nose running, her hair wet with a muddy mixture of tears and dirt. When was the last time you came prepared to worship with your perfume only to be caught unprepared by the wonder of the One you worshipped? Worship that left you weeping uncontrollably, where you were unable to control your feelings at His feet? In the weeping and the worship the sweet fragrance of her sacrifice filled the room and all eyes are on her and Jesus, what will he do? Jesus doesn’t appear to be either embarrassed or upset at the extravagant display of love, devotion and worship. Today we are uncomfortable with uncontrolled emotion so we try to come to God in control, conforming not to His image but our insecurities. Her praise involved great personal cost. It cost here the expensive vial of perfume, it cost her the humility to kiss, wash and dry with her hair the dirty feet of the Lord. Yet perhaps the greatest cost she faced was the scorn and rejection of the self-righteous Pharisee and his dinner guests. No one had invited her, it was obvious that she was not wanted, a social outcast scorned and rejected. Yet pursuing Jesus was greater than the pain of persecution, her desire to see and worship Jesus was greater than her fear. The price that she paid was high but the peace of His presence was healing. Often instead of pursuing Jesus by faith we let fear force us to wait and wander around alone. Simon’s reaction, given in verse thirty-nine reveals much about the condition of his heart. “When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” Simon passed judgment because in his mind his reasoning was right and righteous:
- If Jesus were a prophet, he would know her character.
- If Jesus knew this woman was a sinner, He would have nothing to do with her.
- If Jesus were a true teacher he would not allow her to touch him this way.
The word that Simon uses in this verse to say that she is “touching” him is a word used to describe sexual activity, suggesting an improper and inappropriate act. The problem with his logic is the same problem with programming computers, your output is only as reliable as your input. Because Simon’s logic was based on false assumptions it lead him to false conclusions. First he believed that if Jesus were a prophet, He would be able to discern the character of the woman who was touching him and shun her. Jesus was not only able to discern this woman’s character but he was also capable of knowing what Simon was thinking. The conclusion that Simon reached was entirely wrong and by telling Simon those things that he had only thought and not spoken Jesus proved that he was indeed more than a prophet. When Jesus speaks we get to see one of the most amazing moments, in verse forty, Jesus turns to Simon and says, “Simon I have something that I want to say to you.” Jesus could have just left in disgust but he loved Simon so much that he spoke to him revealing both Simon’s shortsightedness and Jesus sovereignty. Jesus showed those at the supper Simon’s thoughts and heart. I wonder has Jesus ever taped you on the shoulder and whispered in your ear, “You and I have something to talk about!” Jesus loves us enough to reveal our judgmental, critical, hard hearts. The truth is there are only two kinds of sinners in the world and we all fit into one of the two. There are sinners who know they are sinners and there are sinners who don’t realize that they are sinners. What if we really saw ourselves for who we are, shameful sinners in need of a Savior? What if we had the kind of sacrificial faith of this sinner? If Simon had seen his sin he would have fallen at the Savior’s feet. What if we so longed for Jesus that we were willing to barge in uninvited and uninhibited by the social snobs? What if we came prepared to spend our precious containers of fragrant oil spilling every last drop holding nothing back? What kind of faith do we have, is it a faith that is unencumbered, a faith freely flowing with tears. Sometimes I think this prostitute understood more about worship than this pastor. Her faith brought her to His feet but does ours?