A Sinful Woman Forgiven (Some Thoughts)
The woman who had entered Simon the Pharisee's home to perfume Jesus' feet was a notorious sinner. Traditionally she has been called a prostitute, but the text is not so specific. She was probably not Mary Magdalene, who was introduced after this story.
In the ancient world it apparently was common to allow people to enter the home where a meal was being held in honor of a major teacher, or speaker. Nobody was shocked that the woman came in. What scandalized everyone is that she got close to Jesus and He let her anoint Him.
What she did came at great personal cost
1) The perfume she used was both precious and expensive. Anointing ran deep in Jewish custom, being practiced at civic feasts and used for the purification of priests or the tabernacle. If this perfume was nard, it would have cost three hundred denarii, or about a year's salary, per pound!
2) Her tears were an expression of overwhelming gratitude, love and joy. She already knew of His forgiveness
3) Undoing her hair was culturally shocking. Symbolically, she lay herself entirely bare before the Lord, kissing His feet with a tender intimacy that offended every person in the room save one...the Lord Himself.
Simon the Pharisee expected such brazen behavior from the woman, but he found Jesus' acceptance of this worship both outrageous and intolerable.
What he thought revealed the depth of self-righteousness in his heart: If this man Jesus really were a prophet, then he would know what kind of woman was touching him, and He wouldn't have allowed it.
Obviously, Simon said to himself, Jesus is no prophet because look at this sickening display being enacted right here in his banquet hall. Jesus not only had not rebuked the woman, He in fact seemed to be enjoying her kisses. Simon concluded that Jesus must be of a very low class Himself.
Pharisees maintained that if spiritual people were to guard purity and testimony, then they certainly could not associate with sinners.
Jesus saw the situation completely differently. More on that in the next blog