There are some really awkward stories in the Bible. This past Sunday in our series teaching through Luke we came to one those stories. Take a look:
When you read the story, if you’re like me you’ve heard it many times, and you have been accustomed to it, so you’ve already classified it in your mind as “that time Jesus was anointed by a sinful woman” and you go on. No big deal.
No big deal? How did you feel watching that video? Awkward?
This story makes me feel like I want to turn my eyes away. It’s weird! Is it okay to say that about a Bible story? Yes, it is. Because this story is genuinely, truly weird. But maybe we find it weird from our cultural vantage point? Maybe it wasn’t weird in Jesus’ culture?
What is so striking is that Jesus doesn’t seemed phased by the awkwardness. As we see time and time again in Jesus’ lifestyle, his way, he defies convention and teaches us just by example. What can we learn from Jesus in his interaction with this sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50?
First, It is okay to interact with sinners, especially when they are repentant. We can be very repulsed by sinners. If there ever was a situation to be repulsed about, this is one. A sinful woman comes to a single man who is a religious leader, and she starts doing very intimate things to him in presence of another high-powered, but legalistic, religious leader? You and I would probably be quick to get the heck out of there. If we let her continue for even a few seconds, people could start talking, and we could lose our ministry.
But Jesus knows her repentant heart. He sees that this is not a sneaky, wily woman. Just think about it. Why else would she be so bold, walking right into a house of a Pharisee like that? Because she has bad intentions and is desperately hopeful that this will start a romantic relationship with Jesus? I mean he is the most eligible bachelor in the land, if you think about it, but no way would her method work. She is walking into the morality police’s dining room! If anything, this is a risky stupid move that had all the makings of getting her stoned. But Jesus knew her heart and he intervened before anything damaging could happen. He shows us that we can and should interact with even repulsive people who are repentant and want to change.
Second, sins can be forgiven, even awful sins. Like I said earlier, we don’t know the extent of this woman’s sins. And though the anointing is really bizarre in our modern eyes, what is striking is the lengths she goes to express sorry and repentance for her sins.
When is the last time you wept because off your sins? She is broken because of her sins. She could be stoned. But she is willing to lay it all out there. The sinful woman has an understanding of the depth of her sin. As the woman is cleaning Jesus’ feet, Jesus told a parable to the Pharisee whose name was Simon. To summarize the parable talked about two men who had loans forgiving, one ten times more than the other. Jesus asked Simon who would love more, and Simon correctly answered that is was the one who was forgiven the larger loan. When we have been forgiven much, we see our sin more clearly and love much. Jesus is saying, like the woman anointing him, how important it is that we have an understanding of how much we have been forgiven.
We have all had sin forgiven. And this lady reminds us that we should take drastic action to make things right!
I’ll never forget a scene at one EC National Conference from a couple years ago. During a time of singing songs of worship, which we always do at the beginning of each session, one of our pastors walked forward to the front of the gathering and got down on his knees and prayed…in plain view of the whole National conference. It was intense. He was taking drastic action. I don’t what was going on in his life, but it was a powerful display of seeking the Lord.
Do you need to take drastic action to deal with your sin?
Finally, what is also so amazing about this story is the love and forgiveness of Jesus. He was and is a friend of sinners. He is so filled with love, entering into the awkwardness this woman has brought to him, forgiving of her sin.
And he has entered into our awkwardness. His forgiveness is available for us. He loves us. The final few lines of the story are amazing:
- Sins forgiven
- Jesus forgives
- Your faith has saved you, go in peace.
What is the sin in your life? Though sin grieves the Lord, do you know that he loves you, that he died and rose again for you, so that your sins are forgiven? There is hope!