This is part 3 of a 4 part post in which I look at four women, desperate for different reasons, who encountered Jesus. In part 1 I highlighted the woman at the well. You can read that here. Then we looked at the woman with the issue of blood in part 2. Today I want to get to know one of my favorites. Actually, they are all my faves, but today’s desperate woman just speaks to me.
From Luke 7:36-48
The Sinful Woman
To be invited to a Pharisee’s home for dinner was not a small thing. It meant you were “somebody”. To have the lastest teacher or prophet at your home was an honor. No doubt Jesus’ popularity meant Simon the Pharisee wanted to be seen with Him. Given the fact that the Pharisees were always trying to trip Jesus up, this dinner party could also have been an opportunity to publicly embarrass Him. We really don’t know. What we do know, is that Simon did not extend customary hospitality to his esteemed guest, so I’m leaning toward Simon’s motives being a little shady here. Nevertheless, Jesus reclined at Simon’s table. Dinner would have been eaten around a very low table, and Jesus would have been reclining on one arm, supported by divans or cushions. His feet, sandals removed, would be stretched out behind Him. And to those sinless feet, a sinful woman would come to worship.
Think about her life: No husband, alone, no way to support herself, known all over town as “a sinful woman”, which most likely meant she was a prostitute. Her prospects did not look good. Few men would marry such a woman. She would have been shunned by respectable society and prohibited from participation in the local synagogue.
She was unclean, unwanted, unacceptable, uninvited and unwelcome. So she came to Jesus with nothing but her desperation and an alabaster jar. And with these, she made a public display of repentance and worship. She pushed past the scorn of those around her, and she worshipped the One who could forgive her sin.
Our desperation can take us into many places before we finally let it drive us to the feet of Jesus.
“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.'”
But He did know. And when He was finished with Simon, the Pharisee also knew what kind of woman she was. Forgiven. Publically, for all to hear, Jesus gave her worth and dignity.
He honored her in front of the very ones who considered her unworthy of honor.
I think of this woman, and I remember. I remember my own desperation, having nothing else to offer Him. I too wept at His feet many, many times as the forgiveness I had received from Him gave way to an outpouring of worship from within me.
Yes, I think of this woman. Desperate enough to go where she was not welcome, to encounter the Savior. In that encounter, she found forgiveness, and offered her worship to the Forgiver.