Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus for a dinner party at his house. I imagine everyone in town envied the influential Jewish lawmaker hosting the Man from Galilee who healed every disease, multiplied food for thousands and resurrected dead people. 

In Jesus’ culture, you didn’t need an invitation to a fancy dinner. The poor were allowed to attend and gather up the leftovers. But even poor people have scruples. And they wouldn’t want to share leftover lamb kabobs with a notoriously sinful woman. 

Just such a woman crashed Simon’s dinner party that day. And headed straight for Jesus. 

“She Is a Sinner”

The bad woman stood behind Jesus as He reclined on a couch—their custom for dining—and reached for His feet. Then she began to cry. And cry. And cry. Enough tears to wash away the sweat and dirt, using her long hair as a towel. Lastly, she reached into her pocket and brought out an alabaster jar of perfume, worth a year’s wages, and drenched Jesus’ feet, filling Simon’s house with the fragrance.

By the end of this expensive foot bath, whispers and gasps filled the room. “Would you look at that?” “Can you believe the cheek?” “What does she think she’s doing?” Every eye turned toward the shocking scene. 

Simon, in particular, doubted if Jesus knew the woman’s sordid past. Luke tells us, “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 7:39).

A Tale of Two Debtors

Yes, Jesus knew all the sordid details of this woman’s life. But He cared more about her future than her past. 

Jesus rebuked Simon for his judgmental attitude. And then told him a tale of two debtors. One who was forgiven a fortune by his creditor, the other whose debt of a few dollars was wiped clean. “Now which of them will love the creditor more?” Jesus asked the Pharisee. 

“The one who had the huge debt wiped out,” Simon replied. 

Jesus pointed to the woman and praised her for showing such immense love for Him by bathing and perfuming His feet. As if praising wasn’t enough, Jesus turned to her and stated, “Your sins are forgiven.” To add insult to Simon’s injured pride, Jesus added, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 

I Would Never . . .

Have you ever heard someone say, “I would never __________ (fill in the blank).” Perhaps you’ve said it yourself about someone who has a reputation for being a bad girl or boy. 

We look at this woman and may think we are better than she is. We aren’t. 

This story isn’t only about gratitude for forgiveness—giving our whole heart and mind to Jesus and receiving His salvation and peace in return. It’s also about not judging others for the magnitude of their sins. It’s about realizing that no matter how good we think we are, we need to think again. We might not have lived a sinful life like this woman did, but when it comes to Jesus, every single one of us owes Him the same debt. Our lives. 

The best way to show our love for Jesus—besides covering Him with the perfume of our praises—is to welcome others with open hearts into the family of God. 

All About the Sinful Woman

Read Luke 7:36-50

• Who: A woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume

• When: AD 33

• Where: In Galilee

Illustration: Sky Light Pictures/

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