A Tearful Turning Away

March 23
Luke 7:36–50

I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loves much.
Illustration by Gustave Doré

Illustration by Gustave Doré

Sometimes when we read stories in Scripture, they come to life. This story is one of those stories. Just picture the scene. Jesus is eating with some of the most respected religious leaders of his day. Remember, Jesus has been invited to this person’s house. In the ancient world, they ate reclining rather than sitting. So, here they are amongst distinguished company, and a woman enters the room. Luke says this woman was “a woman of the city, who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37). Chances are she was a prostitute. You typically shouldn’t see prostitutes with religious leaders. But she doesn’t just come into the room and sit quietly. She comes up to Jesus’s feet, begins to weep, and then washes his feet with her tears and the anointment she brought. What seems to not concern Jesus, immediately alarms and angers the religious leaders. How could Jesus allow a woman like this to touch him.

Jesus, however, knows what’s going on in their hearts and minds. If we keep reading, Jesus calls them out for their judgment. Everything the woman did for Jesus, the religious leaders should have done. Because of her humble repentance, Jesus even forgives the woman of her sin. Why? Jesus says her sins are forgiven because she loves much. How did she love much? First, she understood who Jesus was. Second, she understood who she was. She knew that Jesus was the messiah who could save her from her sin. She understood that she was a sinner in need of forgiveness. Her love manifested in humbly bowing before Jesus and worshipping him by washing his feet. We’ve mentioned repentance several times over the past few weeks. While repentance is ultimately about the heart, it often manifests itself in humble actions. For this woman, washing Jesus’s feet with her tears and hair was a humble act. Her tears and foot washing were physical manifestations of the repentance she felt in her heart. Are you like the woman? Are you repentant? How are you demonstrating your repentance?

Reflection

  1. Search your heart. Are you broken over your sin like this woman was?
  2. Jesus forgives sin. Ponder this truth. What does it mean for you that Jesus forgives sin?
  3. How are you physically demonstrating your repentance during Lent?