Jesus Anointed By A Sinful Woman


We know that from reading the Gospels, Jesus spent a lot of time with the downtrodden and the outcast of society. However, there are other Gospel stories where Jesus was with the well-heeled or the well to do of society. Just because Jesus was interested in the rejected of society, didn’t mean he was uninterested in the respected of society.

So, when a rich, well-respected man, like Simon, says, ‘I’m having a party in my house, will you come?’ Jesus said, ‘yes’.

‘When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.’ Luke 7:36

This wasn’t the only occasion when Jesus went in and ate in a Pharisee’s house, Luke 11:37 / Luke 14:1.

We need to remember that not all the religious leaders were of the evil heart of those who eventually sought to kill Jesus. John 3:1-2 / Acts 6:7.

‘A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 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. 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.’ Luke 7:37-39

So, Jesus went to Simon’s house and dinner was served in the courtyard, where anyone could have walked in to hear the wisdom of the Rabbi and Simon was the host. But the amazing thing is, even though Simon was the host, somebody else gave the hospitality. Into the courtyard walked a woman off the street. And we’re talking not about a homeless person, but a woman who earned her living off the street.

But notice that She came to Jesus. You see, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. We don’t know what our individual reputations are with people right now. But this woman wasn’t prepared to let her past or reputation keep her from approaching Jesus and we shouldn’t either.

So, she came to Jesus, and it would appear that she was going to anoint His feet with perfume, but as she got closer and closer to Him, her emotions got the better of her and she broke down. She just began to weep, not just sobbing, but crying her heart out. She began to cry so hard, that she splattered his feet with her tears and she wanted to clean it off, but she couldn’t touch anything in a Pharisee’s house, because she was an unclean woman.

So, she just took her hair and started wiping the tears off His feet and then she took the perfume and began to pour it over His feet and kissed His feet constantly. She just kept crying.

Often Jesus would stop someone from crying but here, He doesn’t stop this woman. It could be that she is weeping because she is repenting, instead of running toward sin, she now wants to run away from it. And we should be doing the same, running away from sin, not towards it.

Aren’t we glad that Jesus is willing to publicly admit that he is a friend of sinners?

He is standing up saying that, He is a friend of people who have sinned, 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Now there is a lot of speculation about the identity of this woman, but the truth is, nobody knows who she was. Her remorse over her sinful state was manifested in this most humble gesture of anointing and washing of Jesus’ feet. Her repentance was expressed by the outpouring of her emotion.

Notice that those present said, ‘if He was a prophet He would know what kind of woman this was’.

These are words of judgement concerning Jesus, not just the woman. He was right in judging that a true prophet would know the character of the past life of the woman. However, he was wrong in assuming that Jesus didn’t know, Luke 15:2.

The Parable

‘Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’ ‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said. ‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Luke 7:40-42

God’s grace is poured out on all who will receive such. Only God can forgive sins because it is against God that sin is committed. Therefore, in forgiving sins, Jesus was claiming to be God. God’s forgiveness through grace motivates a loving response, 2 Corinthians 4:15.

Christians love because God first loved them, 1 John 4:19. The disciples of Jesus are motivated into action because of the loving action by which God moved toward them, 1 Corinthians 15:10 / 1 John 4:19. Love is the primary motivation that moves one toward obedience to the commandments of God. John 14:15 / 1 John 5:1-3.

‘Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.’ Luke 7:43

Jesus wanted to make public His patience and mercy for sinners, but Simon didn’t think that this was a display of patience and mercy. Simon thought it was a spectacle, of shame and compromise. And he thought to himself, ‘if this man was really a prophet; if He was really a holy man and not just some con-artist, He would know she is a wicked sinful woman.’

Simon’s view of righteousness demanded that you keep yourself away from sinners like her. And to Simon, the whole scene was an amazing disgrace. In fact, Simon’s conclusion was that Jesus’ offer of grace was disgraceful. He thought it was disgraceful that he would be in the company of that kind of woman. He annoyed Jesus, over how grace should be extended, and Simon isn’t alone.

Not only does he have a lot of company in the Bible, but he also has a lot more company today. People are constantly confused over how grace should be extended to others.

Remember in Matthew 20, the story of the vineyard workers?

Some worked all day, some only worked a few hours and they were all paid the same amount. But those who worked all day complained that it was unfair. The owner had been too gracious, and he says to them in verse 15 ‘Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Or do you resent my generosity towards others?’

The owner tells them he can do what he wants with his own money and asks, are you envious because I’m so generous? Is that the problem?

Some people today are annoyed because Christ is just too generous with the wrong kind of people.

That’s exactly how the older brother felt in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He thought it was disgraceful that his dad was giving grace to his sinful brother who had squandered money on women and booze. The older brother was absolutely fizzing with anger and he was bitter about the grace his father had given to his younger brother.

It was exactly the same with Jonah. In the Old Testament, Jonah disobeyed God’s command to go to Nineveh, to get the people to repent, because Jonah was afraid that God would forgive those people, Jonah 4:1-2.

Jonah accused God of being irresponsible to people who didn’t deserve it. He’s telling God that grace is too good for some people and he’s telling God that he and his friends are down here to make sure that God doesn’t get irresponsible with grace. Just like Jonah, Simon believed that grace was just too good for some people. He thought to himself, ‘Jesus didn’t know what kind of a woman she was’.

Well, guess what? Not only did Jesus know what kind of woman she was, but He also knew what kind of man, Simon was. And for every person that disagrees with God about how He dispenses grace, He has one question, ‘What right do you have to be angry?’ Jonah 4:4

Those of us who had a lot of sin in our lives before we came to Christ are usually the ones who appreciate their salvation more than others. We understood our great need for forgiveness and we are forever thankful to God for forgiving us. When we feel truly forgiven, we live truly thankful lives. 2 Corinthians 4:15.

‘Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Luke 7:44-48

Who are we to say that it’s disgraceful the way God dispenses grace when we need it so much ourselves? That’s what Jesus was trying to say, when he said, ‘Simon, do you see this woman?’

That’s a weird question, how could Simon not see the woman, she was right there! But there was another way Simon saw the woman. Simon saw a tramp, Simon saw a sinner, Simon saw a woman that wasn’t good enough for the love of God. You see Jesus was saying, ‘Simon, you think you see this woman, but you don’t see the woman. And the reason you don’t see the woman is because you still don’t clearly see yourself.’

Remember this, nothing so blinds a person as a vision of their own sufficiency. Jesus said earlier in the parable that, ‘neither man had the ability to pay’.

It doesn’t matter what size of debt we have individually accrued before the Lord, we don’t have anything to pay it off. Nothing.

Simon had failed to perform the customary duties of a host that showed respect to a guest. The humble actions of the woman went far beyond what even a host would perform toward his guest. She did more for Jesus than those who considered themselves righteous in the eyes of God. She manifested her great love, and thus, she received forgiveness, Titus 2:11.

When anyone responds to the grace of God that was revealed on the cross and then obeys the Gospel by immersion in water, God forgives that person’s sins. Acts 2:38 / Acts 22:16.

‘The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ Luke 7:49-50

There were evidently other Pharisees who were guests at this particular meal. They thought it presumptuous of Jesus to forgive sins, Luke 5:21 / Matthew 9:6. The woman’s faith in who Jesus was, moved her to submit to Jesus. She didn’t have a simple belief in Jesus. Her actions were the manifestation of her great faith, Matthew 9:2 / Matthew 9:22.

Jesus said, ‘Your faith has saved you’. Somewhere in the past, she has heard Jesus teach. She has heard the Good News, that God loves sinners, that God wants people to be with Him, that people matter to God and she believed it. She came to find Jesus because when you really believe God and receive His gift, the response is always praise and worship and love. Always. That’s what she was doing, she was pouring out on Jesus.

Look at something else here, the things that she used to seduce men with, she used her hair, she used her lips and she used her perfume and now the things she used to sin, she’s given to honour God.

‘That’s why I’m telling you that her many sins have been forgiven. Her great love proves that. But whoever receives little forgiveness loves very little.’

She lavished love on Jesus because of what she had received from Jesus. Simon’s been counting the wrong things, just like you and I. He’d been counting on how many times he’d been going to worship, how much money he’d given to the temple, how many verses of the Bible he knew, and all of these things are good and noble, but Paul says, ‘As far as our relationship to Christ Jesus is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether we are circumcised or not. But what matters is a faith that expresses itself through love.’ Galatians 5:6

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Simon didn’t love much because Simon didn’t think he needed much. That woman knew she needed a lot and she received it and her love was overflowing.

The irony is, if Simon and that woman walked into any one of many churches today, he would be made an Elder and she wouldn’t even be allowed to teach Sunday School.

In the eyes of Jesus, which one was the amazing disgrace?

Our misunderstanding of how God sees us determines how we see others. How we think God sees us, affects how we see other people. Anyone, who sees themselves as a good person paying off a small debt, will look down on others. On the other hand, those who see themselves as debtors in need of grace to be saved will be a friend to sinners, 1 John 10-11 / Ephesians 4:32.

It is disgraceful for a Christian not to look at others, as we want God to look at us, Luke 6:36.

When we see an unsaved person, just remember this, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’. Any other view is a disgrace.