When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, 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."
Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you.""Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.""You have judged correctly," Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."
To be entirely honest with you I prefer my vanilla, whitewashed version of the gospels. The version that isn’t messy. The version that makes everything look like one big orderly Sunday morning worship service. The version that doesn’t move me emotionally or make me feel uncomfortable. You know the version I’m talking about, the one with white Jesus, in a perfectly clean robe, glowing with righteousness and power. There’s only one problem, the more I read this story I am required to enter the messy, awkward, uncomfortable, dirty, desperate world of Jesus and his ministry. A prostitute. A woman of questionable morals, rough around the edges, the epitome of all that is wrong with those who reject God. Furthermore, the scene she causes at Simon the Pharisees home! She is an uninvited embarrassment. Kneeling behind Jesus, weeping, begging, broken. Desperate. This is the only word I know that describes this woman…and that is all that mattered. Unfortunately, I want so badly to be like Simon the Pharisee. Simon looks like he has figured life out. Hosting Jesus, talking theology, current events, the state of the Jewish community. A clean house, with clean friends, hanging out with clean Jesus. No embarrassing situations, just a meal among peers. Do you see the problem? What I want and what you want too probably is to be peers with Jesus. I like that he calls me friend. I want Jesus to be a part of my discipleship group. I want the church to look perfectly rehearsed and neat and clean. Except Jesus calls the desperate. The desperate find him. The desperate are forgiven. The desperate love others deeply. Why is that? The desperate don’t care what anyone else thinks except Jesus himself. The desperate don’t care about anything else except adoring and loving Jesus. The desperate don’t care if people find out about them, because only one thing matters. The desperate are finished with worldliness. The desperate can’t be kept away from Jesus. In a world where we beg people to be committed to Jesus and the body of Christ, the desperate cannot be kept away. The desperate will do whatever it takes to Jesus. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven!
Oftentimes, we reserve desperation for the BIG sins the messy ones. You know the ones everyone else does. Pornography, adultery, murder. When I read this story I realize this woman has figured out the answer to everything… we are all desperate. Whether we realize it or not, we are desperate for forgiveness, desperate for fellowship, desperate to be near God, desperate to be washed, forgiven, cleansed. I can choose one of two paths. I can spend my life pretending I have it together. That I am not desperately in need of Jesus. Attempting to prove to the world how much I am like Jesus. Or I can accept the truth. On my best day, I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Rev 3:17) That I am in desperate need of grace, mercy, guidance and discipline. I want to imitate the heart of this woman. She truly had it all together!