Religious leaders have varied reasons for asking a public speaker to dine and fellowship with them. Let us assume that when the Simon the Pharisee asked Jesus to dine with him that his motives were pure, that he only wanted to hear more of Jesus’ teaching. It may have surprised many that Simon invited Jesus, and that Jesus accepted; however, Luke 7:36 tells us Simon did ask and Jesus did accept. Simon learned more about himself than he intended.
In the culture of that day, it was customary for “outsiders” to hover around a feast or banquet given by the Pharisees or the wealthy and eavesdrop on the conversations. Everything was open and it was not unusual for uninvited people to be in the banquet hall. It was unusual for a woman such as the one in verse 37 to be in a Pharisee’s house. Jewish Rabbis did not speak to, or eat with women in public. Although no sins are specified, the implication is that she was a harlot. This woman would never have been welcome at Simon’s house under any circumstances.
The greatest difference between Simon and the woman is that both were sinners, but Simon would not admit it. He could easily say the woman, or others were sinners, but he could not admit he was also a sinner. When dining the men usually were in a reclining position with their feet behind them, and this is where the woman positioned herself.
The reality of her sins weighed heavily upon her spirit and she began to weep, as she did, she knelt and used her tears to wash the feet of Jesus. Then she did something no woman would do in public, she loosed her hair and used it to dry His feet. With her tears, she washed His feet, with her hair, she dried them, and then she kissed His feet and anointed them with perfume. She had accepted the invitation Jesus had given prior to this event, “come unto Me, and I will give you rest.”
Simon decided that if Jesus would allow a sinner such as this to anoint His feet He must be a fraud. Jesus looked at Simon and reminded him that he had offered no water to wash His feet, but this woman washed them with her tears. Jesus assured her that her sins had been forgiven and her faith had saved her. Simon never admitted his sins and we read nothing of his forgiveness.
As Christmas approaches, thoughts turn to giving and the appropriate gifts. This woman gave a very appropriate gift. She risked abuse, rejection or worse and washed His feet with her tears, then further humiliated herself by letting down her hair in public. As a teacher, Jesus could have scorned her, rejected her, or ignored her. Instead, as she gave her gift of admission and submission, He gave her the gift of forgiveness.
All God wants from us this Christmas is our submission to His will, and in return, He gives us forgiveness. Should we not pass on that gift and forgive others as God has forgiven us? We only receive His gift when we admit we are sinners.
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