Washing of Jesus’ Feet
A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”Luke 7:36-50
The woman sat aside social custom, worries of personal critique, maybe even fear of physical threat. She entered the house of a Jewish leader – she knew him and he knew her – if not her personally, at least her reputation. She comes and falls before Jesus, the tears flow. She does the most slave-like act of foot washing – not with some clean water and dirty stained cloth but with her tears. She brings herself to Jesus’ feet. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Does she ask for forgiveness – maybe not, but certainly for healing. Her life, her choices, have brought her to this point of publically displaying her need for healing.
She has money or at least isn’t starving. She brings ointment. She knew that she was going to do something physical. This woman sought healing from her pain and remorse. She knew she was doing wrong. She was determined and faithful. No, faith-filled. This is such out of norm behavior. Amazing. Brave. Trusting. Desperate. Sorry. Committed.
She hears the words of forgiveness and healing. Literally, oh my God. She experiences the joy. However, the social overlay remains and the critique and judgements remain. She listens to the discussion about her. She is torn – react and engage? Or, just be thankful and silent – if the Lord can forgive, he can handle the social critique. She keeps her focus on Jesus – constantly ministering to him. The Pharisee is not her focus, but the Lord. She doesn’t step out of healing grace to argue. She is humble before the Lord and let’s Jesus have the discussion. She doesn’t taint her forgiveness and healing by stepping back into the social setting. She just keeps her focus. Healed. Forgiven. Blessed.
Jesus engages Simon’s thoughts – notice that Simon didn’t say anything but makes the internal judgement. Jesus knows. Jesus responds. Not meanly. He simply asks a question. It is not a rebuke.
Jesus turns back to the woman and reinforces his healing and forgiveness – your faith has saved you, go in peace. Her faith. Her faith in Jesus’ ability to heal. Healing and forgiveness. What did she expect? Relief from her sins. Relief from the outcomes of her choices. Relief from the complexities of her life. Healing.
Healing from my sins and the ramifications of my sins. That is what I seek. Healing and forgiveness.