Jesus and the “Immoral” Woman

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table. And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty. “When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. “You gave Me no kiss, but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. “You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” And those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”
And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

-Luke 7:36-50

So here, we have the situation of Simon, a Pharisee who welcomes Jesus into his home. He sees Jesus’ signs of healing and teaching and seeks to understand this Jesus who is causing a sensation wherever He goes.

This woman, discovering Jesus was at the Pharisee's house, sought Jesus out, slipping into this home without an invitation. At that time, people were crowding around Jesus where ever He went and when He entered into the house of the Pharisee, I have no doubt that He and His followers crowded into it, standing at the doorways and peering into the windows watching and listening to all He said and did. Had this woman encountered Jesus previously? Perhaps she met Him before or witnessed something He said or did.
Either way, she somehow recognizes who He is and rushes to be near Him to express her feelings to Him.

The Pharisee is hospitable to Jesus but only half-heartedly.
As Jesus has said, it must have been customary to offer water to honored guests to wash their feet before they came into a house since people at that time wore sandals and walked on dirt roads. And it also must have been customary to greet your guests with a kiss and anoint them with oil as a sign of honor and respect. But Simon is not only NOT honoring Him, but is suspicious and judgmental of Him and the woman. He didn't honor Jesus because, as a Pharisee, this would appear as if he was embracing Jesus as a prophet, at the same time, the people took to Him, so he needed to address who He was.

Being a Pharisee, Simon had studied since he was a young man and devoted himself to follow the Law and its traditions to the letter. Highly respected by his community, he is filled with pride and arrogance, analyzing everything with intellectual skepticism and control. He also knew all the Biblical laws broken by this woman that made her so sinful. But she is his polar opposite. Uneducated of any religious knowledge she is scorned because of her sinfulness, her life run by her feelings and impulses. Just by being female she is a 2nd class citizen. She pours her heart out to Jesus in humility with only her belief in Him. By contrast, Simon is cold and restrained toward her and Jesus, smug in his self-righteousness.

In this room full of people, this woman comes behind a reclining Jesus at His feet. She is too ashamed to look Him eye to eye, but out of fear and humility, she cowers behind Him on the ground, weeping, saying nothing, but honoring Him the only way she could.

"What is SHE doing here?" Simon must've thought. Even though it is the woman coming to Jesus, he uses this to discredit Him, saying to himself that if He really is a prophet, He would know this woman is a sinner and would never let her touch Him, let alone cry on Him. I have no doubt Simon found this scenario appalling and embarrassing. The room must have been hushed except for the woman's sobbing.
But Jesus gives Simon an opportunity to understand the vast difference between him and this woman, by telling him the parable.

So, what were her sins?
Perhaps she was involved in sexual immorality. Some believe she was a prostitute. That might explain how she could afford such expensive perfume to adorn herself. Perhaps she was idolatrous. Maybe she was a slanderous gossip. Or maybe she was a dishonest liar and a thief.
Or perhaps all of the above.

And why is she weeping?
People who are sinful don’t weep because they are sinful, but weep because their life is a mess because of their sins. Perhaps this is how her life was. And because of her immorality, perhaps she lost everything and everyone in her life. Or maybe because of her reputation in the city, everyone treated her like trash and she had no one else to turn to.
Or perhaps all of the above.

She must have been uncontrollably weeping to have enough tears to wash Jesus’ feet, and with nothing to wipe them clean, she let down her hair, which at that time for women was also scandalous. By wiping, kissing and pouring this expensive perfume on the Lord, this perfume was now all over the woman and Jesus. The entire house must have been filled with the sweet scent of her humility, adoration and worship. People at that time had valuable possessions as their life savings and this perfume was probably all she was worth.

Pharisees especially did not come into physical contact with Gentiles and sinners because their sin or something unclean they may have touched would transfer to them and defile them.
By allowing this woman to touch Him, Jesus has taken her sin onto Himself and has cleansed her through His forgiveness.

And why did He forgive her sins?
She didn’t ask for forgiveness.
Jesus forgave her sins because that was what she needed.
No one else forgave her, which is why she had her reputation. She might even have been kept out of the temple, unable to worship God.
People branded her thus trapping and labeling her for the rest of her life. They were not allowing any way out for this woman who made mistakes in her life. By forgiving her, Jesus is giving her a new life. A fresh start.

And Jesus beholds her make-up smeared face of mud and perfume and looking into her swollen eyes He says,“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” This is significant to why the woman was weeping.
She had no peace. Her life was filled with turmoil, pain and misery.
And the Lord gave her the peace she had been trying to find all her troubled life. Sometimes people commit all sorts of sin in their search for some sort of peace. If that was the case, Jesus understood.

This immoral woman, whom everyone thought was the lowest of the low, was accepted by Jesus because she loved Him.
At His feet, her heart burst out to Him in a flood of emotion; all her pain, all her sorrow, all her mistakes, all her failures, all her losses…she poured out to Jesus without uttering a word.
And He had compassion for her.

She didn’t say anything to Jesus, she didn’t change her ways before presenting herself, and neither did she take a vow to be perfect. She probably didn't even know what she wanted from Him. And Jesus doesn't ask anything of her.
All she did was present her heart and soul to Jesus in humility. She worshipped and loved Him with the only things she had, and Jesus accepted her to Himself.
And because of that forgiveness and acceptance, she was transformed.

And now this sinful woman is a testimony, that if God can welcome her, then any one of us, no matter who we are, is welcomed by Christ Jesus into His Kingdom of love.

How great is our Savior!


© 2004 Edrick

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