Jesus’ Anointing

This entry is part 101 of 331 in the series Inquiring Minds

When Jesus goes to a Pharisee’s dinner in Luke 7, a wicked woman anoints Jesus’ feet. Why doesn’t the Pharisee notice the woman coming into his house and why does he say what he says about her that way?

In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus is invited to a Pharisee’s house for dinner. While he is there a wicked woman, perhaps a prostitute or a woman of ill repute, comes in and anoints Jesus’ feet with fine alabaster. If she was a prostitute, that is most likely how she paid for the alabaster, a very expensive substance.

Simon, the Pharisee who invited Jesus, is incensed that this woman would be in his house, let alone causing a scene with his honored guest Jesus. But he only speaks about this woman’s reputation and calls her a sinner.

He casts doubt on Jesus’ ability to know who she is. Throughout his ministry, any time that Jesus spent time with tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees criticized him. Although Mosaic law protected groups like these, the Pharisees wanted nothing to do with them.

But Jesus points out her manners even though she is a sinner versus his manners as a host of the dinner. He contrasts the woman who may be a sinner but washed his feet, dried them, and anointed them. But Simon the host didn’t provide water to wash his feet.

He did not greet Jesus with a kiss but this woman has kissed his feet. Simon didn’t anoint his head with oil, but this woman has anointed his feet. The point is that although Simon doesn’t approve of her reputation, she treated Jesus better than he did as the host.

Simon the Pharisee probably didn’t know that she even entered. Wealthy and well-connected people like the Pharisees would throw dinner parties were many people would come. They probably didn’t know half of the people at their parties. All they wanted to do was look good in the public eye.

If the woman would have stayed in the background, there probably wouldn’t have been an issue. But the moment that she becomes front and center as she thanks Jesus for his kindness toward her when he forgives her sins, she becomes public enemy number one.

Sinners such as this woman should never touch holy men like Jesus. She violated all types of ritualistic laws made by the Pharisees when she engaged with Jesus. But everything that she did was acceptable to him while he spent most of his ministry chiding the Pharisees.

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