36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and 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.
39 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."
Imagine with me the scene
Jesus and the others are reclining at their meals, on their left side, and their feet, therefore, were extended from the table, so that persons could easily approach them. Jesus was becoming quite a celebrity and there were probably many guests. Simon the Pharisee most likely is well-to-do, he may have had a servant as a porter to check visitors at the door; but religious people often opened their homes for the poor, and the woman manages to get in. In banquets where uninvited people could enter, they were to remain quiet and away from the couches, observing the discussions of host and guests. Yet the must have been quite a stir as this worldly women comes in. The text describes this woman is a "sinner" and may imply that she is a prostitute, or at least a woman known to be morally loose. Every thing about her, her cloths, the way she wore her hair would point to her being a loose woman. She comes in to a hostile environment, one that would be filled with judgment. She approaches Jesus, and standing at his feet 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 then takes out an alabaster box. The box of ointment must have been very valuable, and was possibly the proceeds of her trade. The guests would react to this, even though Jewish people did not consider perfume sinful, but because this woman is a "sinner" and uses the perfume as a tool of her trade, Jesus' acceptance of the gift of perfuming would offend religious sensitivities. Yet Jesus submits to her devotion. She humbles her self in the most dramatic way to show her love for the Savior, and at the same time her humility and repenitence, by pouring forth a flood of tears, and washing his feet in the manner of a servant.
- Albert Barnes wrote…“In kissing His feet she testified her love for the Lord Jesus, and at the same time her humility and sense of sin. There could be few expressions of repentance more deep and tender than were these. A sense of all her sins rushed over her mind; her heart burst at the remembrance of them, and at the presence of the pure Redeemer; with deep sorrow she humbled herself and sought forgiveness. She showed her love for him by a kiss of affection; her humility, by bathing his feet; her devotion, by breaking a costly box-perhaps procured by a guilty life-and anointing his feet. In this way we should all come, embracing him as the loved Redeemer, humbled at his feet, and offering all we have-all that we have gained in lives of sin, in our professions, by merchandise and toil, while we were sinners-offering "all" to his service. Thus shall we show the sincerity of our repentance, and thus shall we hear his gracious voice pronounce our sins forgiven.“
The thing that stirs my heart is that Jesus was willing to be touch and adored in this manner. To let a prostitute caress your feet, to kiss them in a very religious setting was an amazing act of acceptance. Many times we feel unworthy to approach the savior but he is willing, no, even eager to have us come and humble ourselves before him. I want to have the same revelation of Christ and His nature that this woman had. She saw something in Jesus that gave her the boldness to approach. Maybe she heard the story of the woman caught in adultery and how Jesus responded to her. There was a brokenness because she understood her need for Christ. In the same way, even though our sins may be of a different nature they are significant nonetheless. Jesus offer of forgiveness should stir in our hearts love. Love leads to passion and passion devotion. Love is kindled by rehearsing the giving of the other person. Consider when we remember and value the things our spouse does for us, the kind words, the service they give, it stirs gratitude, with which in turn strengthens love. In the same way we grow in love when we acknowledge our need and think of God’s great kindness toward us.