Can you imagine the stares? Could there not have been a more awkward moment? No one would expect this sort of thing when you have been invited as a guest to dinner. In Luke 7, Jesus went to Simon's house for a meal. As he reclined on his elbow and enjoyed the food, he felt something behind him at his feet. He looked back and saw her. A woman had come into the house and was kneeling at his feet. How did she get in here? I can imagine a hush came over the room as this woman knelt at Jesus' feet. There were probably looks of disapproval. Jesus said nothing, so neither did anyone else. She anointed his feet and the aroma filled the room. The sounds of her sobs pierced the silence as her tears fell on Jesus' feet. With nothing else to wipe them off, all she could do was use her hair to dry his feet. Did she not have any self-respect? How dare she intrude into the home of decent people during a meal to honor a prophet like Jesus! The more this went on, the more awkward this became. There were those in the room who knew who this woman was. She was not a respectable woman by any means. She was likely the town tramp. Simon, the host, was probably embarrassed and disgusted. I am sure he wondered about Jesus' reaction. I can imagine the look on his face as he muttered, "If this man were really a prophet, he would know what kind of woman he is allowing to touch him. She is a.. sinner." I can imagine Simon was wondering what Jesus would do next about this poor excuse of a human being.
Jesus finally spoke up. "Simon, I have something to say to you." I wonder if Simon thought, "Finally! I was wondering how long he was going to allow this embarrassing situation to continue. Simon replied, "Say it teacher." Jesus then tells a story. “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon correctly answered that it was the one who had the larger debt. Then Jesus does something unexpected. He contrasts the woman at his feet with Simon at the head of the table, but not in the way he expected. Simon did not offer water for Jesus' feet, nor give him the customary kiss on the cheek, nor did he anoint him with fragrant oil. All of this would have been the customary way to honor a guest. In contrast, the woman wet his feet with her tears, did not stop kissing his feet, and she anointed his feet with ointment. What a stark contrast! She showed more honor to Jesus at his feet than Simon did at his head. She came into the house seeking Jesus in complete humiliation and emptiness. Jesus acknowledged that she had many sins, but then he forgave all her sins. The last thing he said to her was, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Everyone in that room was in need of forgiveness. It is likely that Simon did not recognize his need. However, this woman had no defense. She knew her condition and she knew she needed to get to Jesus. She intruded into the dining room because she had to get to Jesus. There was no pride, no hiding behind a veneer of respectability, only the overpowering need to get to Jesus.
I am struck by Jesus' actions. He took an extremely awkward and humiliating situation for the woman and turned it completely around. He did not shame her the way Simon did. Instead, he took away her shame. The woman left that day in peace, not humiliation. Jesus' words shamed Simon. She treated Jesus better than Simon did. She humbled herself before Jesus, and he lifted her up. This was a kind and beautiful thing Jesus did. One of the things to reflect on is this: How can I be like Jesus in similar situations?