A Sweet Fragrance

Luke 7:44-47
44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.
As Jesus often did, he began to explain the significance of the parable but this time it was not to his disciples but to the Pharisee Simon. And he begins to compare Simon’s lack of affection to Jesus with the woman’s overwhelming expression of love towards Jesus.
Common courtesy of the day was to greet your guests with a kiss on the cheek. Simon gave Jesus no kiss. Did he kiss the other guests and not Jesus? We don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that is what happened.
Then water and a towel would have been provided for the guest to wash the filth of the streets off of their feet. This was a courtesy provided on behalf of the whole dinner party because as you relined at the table your feet were likely closer to your neighbor’s nose than our own. If a family was wealthy enough a slave was given this responsibility. If not, it was the duty of a servant or the children of the host… but it was not to be ignored. You owe this to your guests! Did the other guests receive this courtesy and not Jesus? We don’t know, but I would not be surprised if that is what happened.
The last social responsibility was to anoint the head of your prominent guests with oil. It was a show of respect and it was a sign that the host was acknowledging the blessings of God upon his guests. It was often mixed with a perfume for a fragrance, possibly intended to cover the sweat and body odor of the individual who had traveled considerable distance to be there. It was considered a refreshment and people expected it to part of the greeting. Jesus received no such greeting. Was Jesus the only one who still smelled like a sweaty traveler? We don’t know, but I would not be surprised if that is what happened.
In the mind of the Pharisee Simon, Jesus did not merit any of these gracious tokens of respect and graciousness. How does Jesus fare at your house?
Prayer: Cause me to acknowledge the presence of the savior who fills my life so that I offer him the best of everything I own. May I never ignore him and treat him in ways that do not show the proper respect for my Lord. May I express my love, not in standard social norms, but with reckless abandon as I pour myself out in service to him.

The Magnitude of my Debt

Luke 7:40-50
40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
When Jesus says to you, “I have something to say to you” it is probably not good?
But Simon is ready for an explanation about why he would allow a woman like that to touch him. But what Jesus gives him is a parable designed to make him think for himself about why anyone would behave like this woman.
It is about love. A debt is forgiven and there is gratitude and love towards the forgiver. And who loves more? The one who was forgiven more.
It is one thing to be forgiven a financial debt but what kind of love and devotion would you have towards the one who forgave you of all your sin? Someone who died for you and paid the debt of sin that you owed? Someone who opened the way of eternal life with God?
Here is the point. This woman was a sinner but her sins were forgiven by Jesus. And her repentance and tearful and loving response was true worship… out of a heart of love. Love is the motivation for worship. This must have puzzled the Pharisees because they thought that keeping the law caused God to accept them. They worked to earn God’s love, but this woman worshipped because of what Jesus did for her.
So here is the question: How big was the debt of your sin when Jesus forgave you?
Because if you think it was no big deal for God to forgive your small sin then you will love little. But if you see your sin as the mountain of debt that it really was… you will love much.
Prayer: Jesus had to die because of my sin, that is how great my sin was. May I never forget the price that was paid on my behalf.


Luke 7:36-50
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
Have you ever been to a dinner that for one reason or another became awkward? Maybe it’s a dinner party where one of the kids spills something and the parent overreacts and yells at them? And the whole room gets quiet? Or maybe grandma uses a swearword or Uncle Bill passes gas (sorry, it happens) and then blames the dog. Awkward! And you start to wish you were never there?
The things that happen at the Pharisee’s dinner party were the most awkward collection of events could happen in that day. Maybe in any day.
Jesus is invited to a dinner party by a religious leader who wants to humiliate Jesus, or at least to show Jesus disrespect, or maybe by showing his disdain for Jesus the other Pharisees will think more highly of him. We don’t know the answer but what we do know is this was a dinner party that he and the guests would not soon forget.
As the guests were reclining at the table and this woman comes in, uninvited, and moves directly and with intention to the feet of Jesus.
Who is she? We don’t know, but we have some clues… She was a woman who lived in that city and she was known as a sinner. How did she get that title? There is an implication that everyone knew her and her sin. The Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
Many Biblical scholars believe we are talking about a prostitute who everyone knew. Many consider her to be Mary Magdalene or Mary the sister of Lazarus. But we just don’t know. But what we do know is that having a woman like that show up uninvited at a dinner party is the ultimate awkward. But Jesus is about to use this occasion to teach us all something about devotion and real love.
Prayer: Open my eyes so I will be receptive to the lessons that you are showing me in my own awkward situations and let me see the truth revealed in this parable.

Daily Devotions 2020