What the Heck Happened? Luke 7:36-8:3 Edition

(This is a new segment of my blog where I talk about tales from scripture or legends in an overly casual way.  That’s just how I roll.)

Luke 7:36-8:3

Simon invited Jesus to his house for a dinner with some other guests. Simon was a Pharisee, a leader in the temple and someone who probably didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah.  Anyway, Simon brings Jesus to his house but not in a cool “Hey, let’s hang out. I’ll have my servants cook, we can chat. You know, whatevs” But what Simon was really thinking was, “Yeah, come over and let me and my friends laugh at you.  You think you are so hot going around here preaching to our people. I will put you in your place.”

To get a better sense of this dinner, here is a picture of how they were probably sitting to eat:


As they were eating grapes and discussing the Torah (how easy is it to part the Red Sea?), this woman rushed in, stood behind Jesus, and just started weeping with her tears falling on JC’s feet.  (Probable thoughts of the other guests at this point: “WTF?!?!”) Then this woman dried Jesus’ feet with her hair. (Probable thoughts of the other guests at that point: “Could this get any weirder?”) After drying his feet, the woman dumps her entire jar of pricey ointment all over Jesus’ feet and then proceeds to kiss them. (Probable thoughts of the other guests at this point: “Have you ever seen anythi- wow that is a strong smell!  Is that patchouli?”)

Simon, however, was thinking, “Ha! Look at this schmuck! If he really was the Messiah, he would know this woman was a sinner and he would not allow her to even touch him. That fool!” (Here I think he would laugh like that guy in Princess Bride who drank the Iocane powder.)

Jesus, apparently okay with strange women kissing his feet, said to Simon, “Simon, let me tell you something.”

“Teacher,” Simon said, “speak.”

“So there is a creditor. He has two people who owe him cash. One guy owes the creditor $500 and another dude owes him $50. The creditor says ‘Hey you two; your debts are forgiven.’ Never mind that that scenario would never happen but let’s assume it did. Now who would be more stoked to have their debts forgiven?”

Simon, being a bit of a jerk but not stupid, answered, “I guess the guy with the most debt.”

Jesus continued, “Yeah, that’s right. You see this woman who has been at my feet for the last few minutes?” (I assume Simon nodded at this point because he was not blind, just a bit of a jerk.) “I came into your house, Simon, and you gave me no water for my feet. I walk around in sandals, for crying out loud. My feet get dirty! This lady washed my feet with her tears.  You didn’t even greet me with a kiss!” (Customary in that day.) “And look- she has not stopped kissing my feet. Is there any oil on my head, put there by you? Um…no! But she has poured her whole jar of ointment on my feet. She has shown me a huge amount of love. Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little..” (In my head, I feel like someone in the crowd broke the silence by saying the Hebrew equivalent of, “Oh, snap!”)

Jesus turns to the woman and said “Your sins are forgiven.”  The guests started gossiping, “Who is this guy who forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  In my imagination, she stuck out her tongue at Simon but she was probably classier than I would be at that point.

(Much thanks to Fr. Matthew Woodward at Transfiguration Episcopal Church in San Mateo for enlightening me on the cultural and historical background of this passage so I could better understand it.)


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