Then one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a sinful woman from that town learned that Jesus was dining there, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and anointed them with the perfume.
When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who this is and what kind of woman is touching Him—for she is a sinner!”
But Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, Teacher,” he said.
“Two men were debtors to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay him, he forgave both of them. Which one, then, will love him more?”
“I suppose the one who was forgiven more,” Simon replied.
And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give Me water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not greet Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since I arrived. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume. Therefore I tell you, because her many sins have been forgiven, she has loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
But those at the table began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
And Jesus told the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have the forgiveness of sins.
This is a wonderful piece of Scripture to meditate upon, and I encourage you to set aside some time today to reflect on this scripture, and not to just read or listen to my thoughts on the Text.
Read the text again and imagine that you are there in the room as a guest and you see this whole encounter. Do you recognise the Simon’s in your own context? Do you recognise the ‘woman?’ How do people in your own context behave in a similar manner? This requires honesty, recognise the “spirit of Simon” in all its sincerity of welcoming Jesus and all the arrogance of a host who only wants perfection for the guest of honour. He invited Jesus for his own benefit and this woman was stealing the show and diverting attention away from him, she was an embarrassment and all he wanted to do was chase her from the room. What do you expect of Simon and of Jesus in this situation? How do you expect the Church to deal with sinful people, people that are ‘other’, people that you feel are less deserving, maybe immature in the faith, or too worldly or people that don’t meet your expectations? Allow yourself to feel the emotions that the guests at Simons house would have felt. Own up to those emotions and then put yourself in Simon’s place. For you are the Church you are the one who has invited Jesus, we all have an “other,” the sinner, the lesser that is part of our lives. You have plans for your encounter with Jesus, and now this person is interrupting and influencing that plan. Does a name of such a person in your life come to mind? Is there someone who fits the description of an ‘intruder’ in your journey with God? You need to recognise that person and what God is teaching you through them. In this story the “sinful woman” is the object lesson and the recipient of the forgiveness. In your life the person who you see as lesser than you is the one who is forgiven and the one through whom Jesus is calling your to repentance. Scripture is like a two edged sword says Hebrews 4:12.
You see scripture mustn’t be read simply as someone else’s story that has a point and you must take away the point. It is easy to realise that in this story Jesus forgives sins it is easy to see that someone who is forgiven much will love much, but we need to prayerfully identify our “spirit of Simon’ who is offended by this. If we want the Gospel to change our lives, we need to identify the woman and the Simon in us. Sure, we need to be like the woman and weep over our sins at Jesus’ feet. but it’s harder to do that at “Simons’ house where we feel judged and inferior. We need to show the courage that she showed and in the face of judgement and condemnation, fall at Jesus’ feet and seek his forgiveness. It is important that we are able to realise that too often we are the Simon. This text teaches us that just inviting Jesus into our lives is not enough – we are required to change our attitudes and we are required to learn from Jesus and we learn when we see what Jesus is doing in our midst. When we recognise the ‘other’ at the feet of Jesus seeking forgiveness. Like Simon we are quick to see the sinner and the intruder in our neat plan. But Jesus recognises the ‘other’ and brings healing and increases all our faith by uplifting the lowly.
Read the story again – imagine you are the narrator – replace the characters with events, attitudes and actions in your own context – Identify the Simon’s the Woman and the incidents and reinterpret them in the light of this lesson.
Our Churches are full of “Simon’s” and “weeping woman at Jesus feet.” Repent of the Simon in and you and like the woman drop at Jesus feet so that the broken in you may be mended. And then having recognised the Simon and the Woman the “other, ” forgive both!
Have faith, for by faith you will be set free from your sins and by faith you will learn the lessons from Scripture as they are taught to you. Simon hosted Jesus, had a woman gate crash his party and Luke told the story – all so that you could receive the teaching of Jesus in a personal and lifechanging way. Take it personally make it personal and receive the good news.
This is the Gospel of Christ, let us pray.
Teach us lord to read the scriptures as our personal story so that we may learn from them and having invited you into our lives, may we fall at your feet and seek your forgiveness and be reconciled to our father. Increase our faith that we may live to your praise and glory.