Hospitality – Jesus anointed by a sinful woman

Lenten Devotions

A Walk through the Book of Luke

March 9, 2023

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus anointed by a sinful woman


During my years as a church youth director, my wife Kathy and I hosted many parties. One of our mainstays each year was a Superbowl Party. Every year and each group enjoyed the party in their own way. As you can see above, we always had plenty of snacks and soda.

There were always plenty of alternatives for the students if they didn’t want to watch the game.

Some of them actually watched the game. (Oh, and we always keep our Christmas decorations up till March or April). We’ve always considered ourselves good hosts, always taking care of the needs of our guests before our own.

In today’s story, we find Jesus reclining and eating at the home of a Pharisee. But, all is not as it seems. His host, Simon, is not what he appears to be.

******************The Point****************

As I mentioned above, Jesus has been invited to have dinner at the home of Simon, a Pharisee. Considering all the negative things Jesus has to say about the Pharisees throughout the Gospels, this might appear to be an olive branch offering of peace. But, it is anything but that.

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

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.” 7:36-50

In today’s story, Jesus had been invited to the home of a Pharisee to dine. This was probably not a dinner for two. There would have been additional people present. The story makes no mention that Jesus’ 12 Apostles were with Him. As they had already become His close followers and were named in chapter 6, I like to believe this was a large social gathering and that they were there too.

Also, at large gatherings where food was being served, it was not uncommon for the less fortunate who had not been invited to attend (possibly sneak in). This fact gives us a better understanding of why the sinful woman may have been at the Pharisees’ home.

At the beginning of the reading, it appears the Pharisee may have been good intentioned by inviting Jesus to his home to dine. Unfortunately, that is unlikely because of Jesus’ past and future encounters with Pharisees. It is more likely that He was invited so that the host would hopefully find fault in His teaching and could then criticize Him.

Also, the reading tells us that the Pharisee did not give Jesus the common courtesies that were the norm for the day when He arrived. For example, neither the Pharisee nor one of his servants washed Jesus’ feet as He entered the house. This was a tradition as the city streets were dirty, dusty, and had animal waste.

In addition, kissing a visitor to your home as they entered was a tradition. This was not done.

After hearing the Pharisees’ thoughts, Jesus shares the parable of the two in debt to a money lender. Jesus’ point was that the woman who came into the dining area and washed His feet with her hair and anointed his feet and head with perfume was like the man who owed the most money.

Jesus put the Pharisee in his place when He compared the woman (some theologians believe it was Mary Magdalene) to him. She washed Jesus’ feet, but the Pharisee did not. The woman kissed his feet, but the Pharisee did not kiss Jesus. She anointed Jesus’ feet with oil, and the Pharisee did none of these things for His guest.

The woman in the story probably had already realized the error of her ways, whatever her sins may have been. She had already accepted the Gospel message of forgiveness. For her, it was essential to come to Jesus and show her love for Him in the ways she did.

Finally, Jesus says, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

The second part of the above statement was aimed at the Pharisee.

Then just to put an exclamation point on all that He had said so far, Jesus looked at the woman and said,

“Your sins are forgiven.”

Then Jesus gives this woman a final blessing.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

One can only imagine what a devasting blow this entire scene was for the Pharisee who had invited Jesus to His home. Of course, he had an ulterior motive to mock and belittle Jesus in from of his friends and Jesus’ followers. But, in a very unique way, Jesus turned the tables. In my mind, I see Jesus and His friends leaving with the Pharisee speechless about what had just occurred, perhaps with his mouth open and jaw dropped in amazement😊.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s