16 June 2013

Luke 7:36 - 8:3

“Turning towards 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 bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet.’” (vv. 44-45)


Some of the issues in this passage are about hospitality and the place of women in society as well as forgiveness, faith and love. Jesus has been half-welcomed by Simon. But all the warm welcome of real hospitality offered in this society is missing - no water to wash feet dusty from the road, no kiss of greeting, no anointing to mark an important guest. All Simon offers is formal politeness.

The door may well have been open for additional guests, or for people in need. The woman comes in behind the official guests, who would have been reclining on couches, to offer her gratitude to the man who helped her change her life. She is so overcome that she cries before she can use the ointment she has brought, and without thinking uses her long hair to dry Jesus' feet. Displaying her hair in public like that would have marked her as a prostitute, even if she had been unknown to the respectable guests!

So Jesus has this conversation to try and show Simon the difference between himself as an apparently reluctant host, and this restored and forgiven woman.  There seems to be very little idea of joy in Simon's hospitality!

In the few verses after this story (Luke 8:2-3), we are reminded that Jesus had a very different view of the place of women from most men of his time. Probably no other travelling preacher would have allowed women to accompany him and his male followers on an equal footing - even women of some social standing, like Joanna. These women, however they had come to know Jesus, paid for his ministry, and were clearly part of the teaching and healing ministry.

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about public displays of emotion?
  • What do you feel grateful to God about?
  • Think about those who offer you love and support in your life and pray for them if you feel you want to.

Bible notes author

Revd Alison Tomlin

Alison Tomlin is a supernumerary Methodist minister, who was president of the Methodist Conference in 2010/2011. She has been involved for the last 25 years in leading retreats and offering prayer, accompanying both groups and individuals.