The Sinful Woman and Simon (Part 1)
Luke 7:36-39 reads - "Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And he went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself saying, 'This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.'"

It is revealed in 7:40 that this man's name was Simon. It is unknown why this man invited Jesus to eat with him, but Jesus does accept his invitation. It appears that he, like Nicodemus, wished to investigate the character and claims of Jesus, and was influenced more by curiosity than by hostility, as opposed to most of the Pharisees! However, he desired to avoid compromising himself in any way, so, although he did invite Jesus into his house, he carefully omitted all the customary courtesies that would have been paid to an honored guest.

The woman who brought the fragrant oil "was a sinner" (7:37). In the truest sense, all humans are sinners (Rom. 3:23), but she was commonly known to be exceedingly sinful (cf. 7:47).

Luke states that "Jesus sat at the table". It is likely, however, that He was in a somewhat reclined position. Thus, it was possible for the woman to stand at His feet. His feet were certainly bare for it was the custom to leave one's sandals at the door. This woman couldn't control her emotions on this occasion; perhaps she cried because she felt a strong contrast between His sinless nature and her own stained life. It seems doubtful that she intended to cry on His feet, and since she was unprepared to dry them with a towel, she used what was available (i.e., her hair). It was regarded among the Jews as a shameful thing for a woman to let down her hair in public, but she made this sacrifice because of her affection for Jesus. Afterward, "she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil."

The Pharisee, carefully noting the actions of the sinful woman toward Jesus, "spoke to himself." In other words, he didn't proclaim his doubts out loud regarding Jesus. Here is a good example of improper judgment. Simon judged according to appearance and failed to judge righteously (John 7:24).

The public believed that Jesus was a prophet (cf. Luke 7:16). However, since Jesus allowed this type of woman to touch Him, Simon was convinced that He wasn't a prophet. After all, he believed that if Jesus had been a prophet, He would have known what kind of sinful woman this was, and He would have kept her away from Himself! The Pharisees, according to their traditions, would have considered themselves unclean if touched by such a woman. Simon's narrow mind did not grasp the truth that it was just as amazing for Jesus, the Son of God, to sit at his table as it was for Jesus to permit this woman who was known for her sins to touch Him!

We will continue studying this narrative tomorrow.