The woman was a known harlot, she had no standing at all among the people of her village, but she especially was unwelcome at the home of Simon, the Pharisee. I am not sure how she even made it into the dining room, perhaps disguised as one of the servant girls. Certainly, even women of standing, wives, mothers, sisters did not dine with the men when their was a dinner party. Her presence tainted the whole event, she was unwanted, and yet she dared the possibility of being humiliated and thrown out to approach and minister to the man, Jesus. Why on earth did she risk so much?
Simon invited Jesus but did not make him especially welcome. Perhaps any hospitality he might have shown faded when he saw THAT WOMAN standing at Jesus feet, weeping, pouring expensive perfume to cleanse the dust and soothe the aches. Perhaps he froze in distain as he saw her touch Jesus feet with her hair–how disgusting that this so called prophet would allow a woman, any woman, not his wife or mother, to touch him, but especially THIS WOMAN. Simon puffed up in all his self-righteousness could barely speak when Jesus addressed him. Can you hear the venom dripping from his mouth when he responded to Jesus, “Teacher, tell me.”?
Can you see Jesus’ eyes moving between Simon and the woman at his feet, who continues ministering to him, her tears still flowing? Simon obviously considers Jesus’ little riddle simplistic so he responds sarcastically. Really, how easy, of course the more grateful person would be the one who had the greater debt cancelled. You can almost see his eyes roll. But Jesus doesn’t let him bask in his own brilliance or self righteousness for even a beat. Jesus confronts him by comparing Simon unfavorably with the prostitute…”Impressive, isn’t she, Simon?”
And then while Simon’s mouth drops open and his Pharisee buddies huddle and mumble, Jesus forgives her sins, which are many. He frees her from bondage and sends her away in peace, ignoring Simon and the other dinner guests negative commentary. I wonder do you think he turned back to the other guest, took a bite and asked Simon to pass the salt?
What became of the woman? Well there is a clue in the first 3 verses of the next chapter for Luke tells us that the 12 apostles and several women traveled with Jesus. Women, who Jesus healed, forgave, delivered. Some are named, others are not, but these women provided from their own means the money for the ministry. Jesus honored women in a time when culture did not. I find myself in these women, girlfriends of mine, though centuries divide us. For I, too, have been forgiven much and I follow Jesus knowing that when I crawled to his feet and poured out my sins, He took my hand, lifted me up and said, “Follow me.”