There was a Pharisee by the name of Simon who had previously been healed from leprosy. He invited Jesus over to eat. At this gathering we at least know the following people were there; other Pharisees, Jesus’ disciples, the same Lazarus Jesus had raised from the dead, Lazarus’s sister Martha was found serving the meal, and let’s not forget the immoral woman Mary. I’m not sure what Simon’s motives were for inviting Jesus to eat with him. In verse 39 in the gospel of Luke it’s revealed he had serious doubts of who Jesus really was. For he said to himself “IF” this man was a prophet he would know…This question was placed in this story to show he was leaning to the conclusion that he was not a prophet at all. How could this be? He himself found healing at the hands of Jesus, they were eating with a “living” dead man! Not to mention the countless miracles they were to sure have all heard about and maybe even witnessed. He wasn’t someone who had second hand knowledge of what Jesus was doing and who he was. And yet the hardness of his heart that was consumed by religion and his lack of faith left him still full of doubt. Further proof of the fact that religion doesn’t change ANYONE!
He obviously didn’t even have customary honor for Jesus as a guest in his home. In verses 44-46 of Luke Jesus points out common hospitality that was either overlooked or maybe even willfully denied as a form of a subtle insult. Simon didn’t wash his feet, greet him with a kiss, or anoint his head with oil. With Simon being a Pharisee it’s hard for me to accept this was an accidental oversight. Pharisee’s were very conscious of all ritualistic practices and on anything that would make them outwardly look bad.
In contrast to Simon, we have this woman Mary who was an immoral woman. Jesus himself pointed out that her sins were many. However, as soon as Mary heard Jesus was at Simon’s house, she was not going to let anything keep her from the feet of Jesus, not her past or current sins, not tradition or fear of what might happen to her. She certainly was not going to let fear of what people thought of her stop her! Nope, her need and love for Jesus called out to her and drew her to him in sacrificial worship. She had a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. This perfume was estimated to be equivalent to a year’s salary. It was most likely all she had in this world that carried value, but that no longer mattered to her.
The things of this world no longer held importance to her. She poured the oil on Jesus’ head and feet. She laid herself low and humbled before her Jesus. There was no hesitation or doubt in her heart who he was. Her tears poured from her washing the feet of Jesus along with cleansing herself of all that she was carrying. Her guilt, her shame, her unworthiness…all poured out of her in those tears. As she wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair she put action behind the heart of having no value in even her own body. As she kissed Jesus’ feet she showed she would take any part of Jesus she could get to, having no hesitation to submerge all she had into him. That day that woman poured all she had and all she was at the feet of Jesus. She emptied the bottle and herself at his feet.
Religion was repulsed by not only who she was but by what she was doing. Simon was found thinking about how she was untouchable due to her being such a sinner and Judas was found harshly scolding her for wasting such a valuable thing but not Jesus! Jesus embraced this woman with forgiveness and accepted fully her act of love for him. In John’s account it is pointed out in verse 3 how the entire house was filled with the fragrance of her act of worship. What a sweet aroma her sacrifice must have been to our Lord. Everyone may not have understood or accepted it, but none of them could ignore it. Her faith in Jesus led her to forgiveness and she left with a peace that ONLY Jesus can give.
As we leave this story we must ask ourselves the following: have we poured out all that we are and have at the feet of Jesus? Are we holding back any portion of our life from him? Are we still drawing invisible borders for our Jesus, saying you can only come so far? We all must pour ourselves out before his feet to make room for his forgiveness and peace in our lives! Don’t let sin, failures, shame, or the love of this world keep you from this depth of intimacy with Jesus. Are there still parts of your heart that are questioning who Jesus really is to you? Simon’s doubt left him with nothing but shame and dishonor. Mary’s sacrifice of love, worship, and total surrender left her with forgiveness and peace. Which will you choose today?
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.
17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This[a] is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”