This woman who kissed Jesus’ feet probably had a reputation as a prostitute. Although the Bible contains no such record, it seems likely that Jesus had previously ministered to her, accepting her repentance and forgiving her many sins. Now, at Simon the Pharisee’s house, she returned to show her love and gratitude for her Savior. It’s quite obvious she believed that Jesus was God in the form of a human being: How many people’s feet would you wash with your tears and dry with your hair? How many people’s feet would you repeatedly kiss and perfume? Hopefully only God’s!
This story, for several reasons, also affirms that Jesus was who He claimed to be. First, because Jesus allowed the woman to do all those things to His feet, and there’s no evidence that He was the least bit uncomfortable with it. Why? Because He was God, and God deserves to be worshipped. Would you allow someone to do that to you? Hopefully not! Any other human being who allowed another person to perform such a worshipful act would be guilty of great pride.
Second, Jesus told the woman that her sins were forgiven, something that only God has a right to do, as those present that day realized. If Jesus wasn’t God, then He was one of the most evil people who ever lived, because He knowingly deceived people into believing that He was God and accepted worship of which only God is worthy. If you don’t love Jesus, then you hate Him! But nobody should be neutral about Him, because He wasn’t, as some think, “just a good man.” Simon the Pharisee thought that what he was witnessing proved that Jesus wasn’t even a God-sent prophet.
Simon assumed that a God-sent prophet would automatically know how immoral the woman was. It hadn’t occurred to him that Jesus was God and that the woman had repented and had been forgiven by Him. So Jesus explained to him what was happening before his eyes. He was witnessing a redeemed person worshipping God with humble gratitude. Because she had been forgiven of so many sins, she was especially thankful, and it showed.
Then Jesus compared her actions with Simon’s. Simon hadn’t even offered Jesus the common courtesies of that day which any dinner guest should have received. No doubt Simon had a servant wash the feet of his other guests when they arrived, but he hadn’t even offered Jesus water to wash His own feet! Yet the forgiven woman washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Simon hadn’t greeted Jesus with a common kiss of greeting as he had his other guests, but the forgiven woman repeatedly kissed His feet, an act of adoration. Neither had Simon extended to Jesus the common courtesy of anointing His head with olive oil as he probably had done for his other guests, but the forgiven woman anointed Jesus’ feet with rare and very expensive perfume.
Simon’s discourtesy revealed that he didn’t invite Jesus to his house for dinner in order to get to know Him or ask Him honest questions, but to set Him up before his other Pharisee friends, so they could have a close-up chance to find fault with Him. They hated Jesus, and wanted to prove He wasn’t even a God-sent prophet. How sad! If they had known and believed the truth, there would have been no room for the forgiven woman near Jesus’ feet, because they would have all been on their knees there, weeping for their sins and asking for His forgiveness!
Q. How was the forgiven woman able to perform her act of worship while Jesus was eating with Simon and some other Pharisees? Do you think that she crawled under the table or did she stick her head under His chair?
A. That was a trick question! In Jesus’ day, people ate their meals lying on their sides around a very low table, their legs pointed outward like spokes on a bicycle wheel. The woman in today’s story knelt behind Jesus’ feet and legs, where she was easily able to wash His feet with her tears and dry them with her hair.
Q. According to Jesus, what was it that channeled salvation from Him to the immoral woman?
A. Her faith in Him.
Q. How can we be certain that she did possess saving faith?
A. Her humble act of worship revealed her faith. She publicly, without shame, demonstrated that she believed Jesus was God. All true Christians possess a deep gratitude to God for the forgiveness of their sins, and it shows by how they live their lives.
Application: Jesus said that a person who has been forgiven much, loves much, and a person who has been forgiven of little, loves little. Actually, all of us who are saved have been forgiven of much more than we realize. Does your love and gratitude for Jesus show by how you live?