“If this man were a prophet, he would know…
that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39 (NIV)
When He walked this earth, Jesus earned a reputation for spending too much time with the worst people in society. Indeed, His critics were appalled that He would spend any time with them at all.
For the religiously self righteous of our Lord’s day such “sinners” were invisible and nothing could convince these people to have anything to do with such dreadful people.
Looking at the context of our verse we read that Jesus was in the home of a Pharisee named Simon in the northern area of Galilee. The man had invited Jesus to come to his home for dinner. Apparently the Pharisee was curious about Jesus and wished to learn more about Him.
A woman, who was probably a prostitute, living in the town where the meal took place found out about Jesus being the guest of this man. She did what others living nearby were welcome to do who did not have an official invitation to the meal. She came into the house to observe what happened.
Her actions were certainly remarkable. First she wept many tears so that she was able to wash Jesus’ feet with them. She then dried His feet with her hair, kissed His feet and finally anointed Jesus’ feet with a perfumed oil from a container she had.
The host of the dinner was shocked at Jesus allowing this sinful woman to touch Him. He decided that if Jesus had truly been a prophet He would have known this woman’s sordid past and not allowed the physical contact.
The man misjudged both the woman and Jesus. He said that she “IS” a sinner, meaning she was still actively evil. Had he noticed, he would have realised her tears were tears of repentance. She was sorrowful for her past and we know from Jesus’ statement about her that she was already forgiven for her many sins. V. 47 says, “…her many sins have been forgiven…” (NIV)
Certainly the woman knew that she could expect scorn from the “righteous” people in the house but such was her concern to show love to the Saviour, she risked rebuke and hostility from others in order to show devotion to the One Who rescued her from her past.
Although this woman made a living from evil activity, she was not rich and her offering to Jesus is described as simple and not like the costly anointing recorded in John 12:3 that was used to anoint Jesus’ head days before the cross.
Jesus spoke up in the woman’s defence and assured Simon that she loved Him greatly. Then Jesus spoke to the woman and assured her that her sins were all forgiven and He told her to go in peace. Jesus had no quarrel with being close to sinners who repented of their sins. Indeed, Jesus loved such people and became their friends.
Perhaps you know yourself to have been a great sinner. Do you not see that this Jesus welcomes such into His presence and does not turn away any who will come to Him as this woman did?
If you know yourself to be like this woman do what she did. Repent and come to Jesus. Perhaps others will still reject you. Jesus never will turn you away.