December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”—Luke 7:44–50 (NIV)
This scene leaps off the page 2,000 years later with the power to still melt hearts. Packed into these seven verses, we can see love, repentance, worship, and Jesus’ counter-cultural treatment of women.
Throughout the seventh chapter of Luke, the Lord reveals His redemptive, resurrection power and His unwavering grace. In this particular encounter, a repentant woman is at the feet of Jesus. In a posture of humility, tears of sorrow and remorse cascade down on His bare feet, and she lets down her long hair to wipe them clean. She anoints His feet with expensive perfume. This costly perfume was likely given to her as a child to be used on her wedding day. The perfume was highly treasured and possibly her most valuable possession. Letting down her hair and using this perfume is a beautiful picture of her becoming the bride of Christ (the church—the body of Christ—is the bride of Christ: Ephesians 5:25–27).
In a culture that viewed women as second-class citizens and mere property, daring to show up with her bad reputation and walking right into a Pharisee’s home showed massive courage and determination. She collapses at the feet of her Master and becomes completely undone. Absolutely nothing was going to stand in her way of worshiping her Savior. She’s making a scene and doesn’t care who sees, who she makes uncomfortable, or who may find her offensive. She’s willing to face public shame and ridicule to chase after the One who loves her most. Oh, may we all worship with this tenacity and passion!
I love how Pastor David Guzik speaks to this moment: “She wasn’t forgiven because of her great love; her great love was evidence that she had been forgiven, probably privately on a prior occasion and now publicly.” Amen.
The Lord knows the depth of her brokenness and her desperate need for forgiveness and redemption. Her Savior proclaims for all to hear that her sins are forgiven. Once well known for her bad reputation, now forever known for her redemption and restoration. All present observed a notorious sinner receive forgiveness. This is good news, even some 2,000 years later! This is a portrait of us: When we as notorious sinners repent and place our genuine faith in King Jesus, forgiveness can be found in Him.
Among the many questions Jesus asks Simon, there was one very simple question that was piercing, and if we’re not careful we can read right past it: “Do you see this woman?” This question urges Simon to look beyond societal divisions and see her not as an unclean woman, but a genuine, repentant woman whose heart and life has been transformed. Jesus also uses her lavish worship to rebuke His unhospitable, outraged host, Simon. Clearly, Simon doubts Jesus is the Messiah. His judgmental posture extends to both Jesus and the woman. He’s suffering from spiritual blindness. This woman has had her eyes open to the Truth.
This story presents us with a stark contrast: One recognizes her spiritual bankruptcy, while the other is a self-righteous “white-washed tomb.” One redeemed, and one lost in his sin.
May your heart sing with joy to have Jesus’ counter-cultural treatment of women (and all who are outcasted) on full display in these verses. I’m grateful we serve the Messiah, whose actions overflow with dignity, compassion, and respect.
Pause: Have you ever had a Simon moment, where you think you’re better than someone else? Are you willing to face public ridicule to chase after the One who loves you the most? Do you worship with this much intentionality? May you follow in the footsteps of the repentant woman.
Practice: Jesus plainly shows us that the one who keeps all the rules is not necessarily the superior person. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). To put it bluntly, Simon was being rude and critical to someone who didn’t fit his standards. Unfortunately, the Christian church as a whole is sometimes viewed as being judgmental. Practice looking at the heart of an individual. Share the love of Christ Jesus with the lost, broken, and marginalized.
Pray: Lord God, thank You for welcoming my repentant soul home to You. I yearn to have this woman’s level of passion and intensity in my worship towards You. Help me not care about what others may think of me. You deserve this type of worship from all Your children. All honor and glory belongs to You now and forever more. Amen.
Deb Marsalisi is an author, public speaker, mentor and Fire Inspector. She began her writing journey to make peace with her challenging past. It has provided her with an outlet for creative self-expression, and a healthy new perspective on life.
Through God’s amazing grace, she has learned to rejoice in life’s ups and downs, struggles and victories understanding they’ve been given so she can help and inspire others on their own journey of restoration. Her passion is to support others in emotional and spiritual habits that are truly life-changing. She spends her free time loving, encouraging and mentoring young women to grow in their relationship with Jesus. And she also enjoys cooking amazing meals for her friends and family.