the story of Jesus evangelizing a Pharisee. He came to seek and to save the lost. Anointing of Jesus’s feet by a penitent woman.
The Greatest Story Ever Told. The Melting Love of God. My Sin, Oh the Thought! The Tearful Woman.. The Meal in the House of the Pharisee. A Pharisee Evaluating Jesus? LUKE 7:36-50
Pastor-Teacher Charles e Whisnant
When you think about witnessing, when you think about evangelism, when you think about missions, when you think about reaching lost people, what is it that makes the most impact?
Is it a logical argument? Is it reasonableness? Is it the promise of prosperity, or the promise of eternal life itself? What is it that can impact a person to embrace Jesus Christ?
First you have to proclaim the truth. You want to articulate the promises. This is true of course But what really is powerful is the testimony of a transformed life. What makes the message believable is when it demonstrated transformed lives.
Jesus knew this. Jesus knew that in His own personal evangelism, in His own seeking the lost, it was powerful to present a transformed life.
During the course of the meal, a sinner , a person of bad characdter, entered the house univited. There was a woman in the city, she lived there. Everybody knew her. She plied her trade in that town. She was known to all. It’s not just lost people that are described as sinners. It is a term that has some disdain in it. It refers to those who were sort of the low life.
Now perfume was part of the trade of being a prostitute. And it was also a part of just being a woman. Many Jewish women had around their neck a vial of perfume on a cord or a leather thong which they kept with them all the time. It was a sort of deodorizing agent in a very different kind of world than we’re used to today. It was not uncommon for women to spend a lot of money on perfume.
vS. 38 “She was taking her place, standing behind Him at His feet.”
So when she came in she went to the feet of Jesus, probably in her mind wondering how and when she would get an opportunity to anoint His head with this costly perfume, which she so much wanted to do. Shocking that she’s even there.
It doesn’t tell us anything about a response to that effect, but obviously she was in a place where she shouldn’t have been, but perhaps in a dim light she wasn’t immediately noticed by the people who would have known her. She stayed out of the way. She stayed back in the background near the feet of Jesus, standing there, no doubt, pondering what to do. How was she going to get to the place where she could anoint His head. This was what was in her heart. This is what she wanted to do with a sacrificial profuse expression of love and generosity toward Him.
As she stands there amazingly, she begins weeping.
She is just flooded with the reality of the kind of woman that she is. And she is just weeping, overwhelmed with emotion. She lets loose with what Luther called “heart water,” and it bursts out of her eyes as if the emotional damn has broken into pieces and the flood begins.
And as she weeps, because of where she is, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She’s weeping and naturally she looks down and she sees of all things that the host has never provided a servant to wash the feet of Jesus.
She notices that His feet are dirty. And this is really a social disgrace. And so since the tears are profusely running down her face and she has no water, other than those, she allows them to fall on the feet of Jesus. And this outburst of emotion is gaining momentum.
and began to wash his feet with tears,
Then it says she began to wet, it’s the Greek word brechō, which means rain, literally she rained tears on His feet. She had no water but her heart water. But it was enough to wash His feet. Her emotion is so strong. There she is before she thinks any further about how can she anoint His head, caught up in the fact that nobody has given the simplest dignity to the man by washing His feet, and so her tears are a sufficient supply of liquid to do that.
and did wipe them with the hairs of her head
And then it says, “She kept wiping them with the hair of her head.” She had no towel either. So she took her hair down because all Jewish women in public were required to wear their hair up. Not to do that was a sign of shame and looseness. But she had no choice except to use her hair to clean and dry His dirty feet.
and kissed his feet, .
Once His feet were clean, it says she was kissing His feet, kataphileō, that’s an intense word. It’s used in Luke 15:20 of the father’s kisses when the prodigal came home and he fell on his neck and kept embracing and embracing and embracing, kissing. It isn’t necessarily limited to the lips, it’s that clinging, that tight embrace. We might even include with it the idea of a hug.
She’s there at His feet and first the tears start falling on His feet and then she realizes that she can use the tears to clean His feet, a courtesy that hasn’t been given to Him. And then she can take her hair down and use her hair to dry His feet.
And meanwhile, we don’t know how the table is reacting. It may have been that she’s still in the background a little bit. Jesus obviously knows what’s going on. Actually He’s planned for this. She’s doing this still maybe in the background and once the feet are clean, then she’s so completely swept away with emotion that she embraces His feet and it tells us she continues to do it. She is kissing His feet in continual expression of affection.
and anointed them with the ointment
And then comes the final act of generosity, anointing them with the perfume. She decides that she can’t wait any longer and there’s maybe not going to be any opportunity to move any further toward the table. And so swept away in the emotion she snaps the alabaster bottle and she pours perfume out on His feet.
I mean, this could be a very, very difficult situation for Jesus. In the first place, she’s a known prostitute. She’s shamefully taken down her hair, certainly in the view of the Pharisee. She’s touching Him. Not only is she touching Him, but she’s washing His feet with her hair. Not only that but she continues to embrace His feet to hold on to Him, as if she didn’t want to let Him go, expressing this emotion. And then she’s pouring out this perfume.
This could be a very serious breach of decorum, respectability, good manners, this was not the qualilty of conforming to conventionally acceptied standards of behavior or morals for sure.
It would be very easy to say, “How in the world does this prostitute feel so familiar with Jesus? She must know Him. How did He have any relationship with such a shameless woman?” Well somebody might make an obvious connection.