What can the G-word be that is so important that I need to write about it today? Well it is inspired by a beautiful story from Luke 7:36-50. The word is GRATITUDE which is seen in all it’s glory by the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. How grateful are we to the one who paid the ultimate price on the cross and forgave us of our sins? As a consequence of this ultimate sacrifice, do we show our gratitude by honouring the so called outcasts in our society the way Jesus did? Well for inspiration look no further than the encounter between Jesus and this immoral woman.
Jesus has been invited as an honoured guest to Simon’s house, who we are told was a religious leader. However Jesus is far from being honoured; in fact he has been shown the most disrespect a man could ever be shown, due to Simon’s apathy towards his guest. In those days an honoured guest, such as Jesus, who was known as a Rabbi, would normally have been greeted with a kiss on the cheek. As an honoured guest Jesus did not receive anointing of olive oil on his head. As an honoured guest Jesus did not receive any water to wash the dust off his feet. All these three things would normally be afforded to such guests but Simon offered absolutely no honour or respect to Jesus. People in the room would have seen this and seen that Jesus was ridiculed in public.
However Jesus did not come to play games of etiquette with the righteous and proud. He came to give life to the vulnerable and humble. Do we play games to look good in certain circumstances at the expense of caring and showing a deep love to those who are on the outside of our so called ring of influence?
The immoral woman then enters the room. This would have been a massive deal for her. Being a prostitute and probably being well known in the town, it would have been unheard of for any man to have any contact with this woman; especially if they wanted to avoid being defiled by her sin. What she does next is heartbreaking. She kneels down at Jesus’ feet and kisses them. She then dares to look into Jesus’s eyes. This is the first time that she has loooked into someone’s eyes for may years; she has felt disgraced, shameful and dirty. This time instead of Judgement and ridicule, she sees for the first time in her life love. Then tears start to role down her face. But these are not tears of sadness, but tears of GRATITUDE because Jesus offers forgiveness.
Jesus’s feet unwashed by Simon are wet from the woman’s tears. How does she wipe these tears. She lets her hair down to wipe the tears away. This is another shocking breach of etiquette. A woman always used to wear her hair up in public; again when she lets her hair down she is sacificing her repuation to serve the King with GRATITUDE. She then pours an expensive jar of alabastar oil and empties the jar. This is an act of significance because she will not use this oil again in her old profession for cleanliness purposes. She is pouring away her old life. She pours the oil on Jesus’s feet and kisses them what sems like a thousand times. The woman unashamedly pours herself out in adoration and Gratitude. The complete opposite to Simon’s actions.
When we serve others do we do it with a hard heart like Simon or a soft loving heart like the woman
Near the end of this story Jesus sums up why the woman shows him so much Love and Gratitude. Jesus says, “The one who is forgiven much loves much. The one who is forgiven little loves little.” Here Jesus is summing up the greatest sin of all. Simon perceives himself to be righteous and a man with little sin compared to the woman. This is what makes it so hard for him to be overwhelmed by Grace.
John Ortberg puts it like this: “There is a great sin that defiles this room, but it is not the sin that Simon or us thinks. It is the sin that:
Lips that won’t kiss
Knees that won’t bend
Eyes that will not weep
Hands that will not serve
Perfume that will never leave the jar
It is the sin of a heart that will not break, a life that will not change, a soul that will not love”