“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” (Luke 7:36-38, NIV).
In Jesus’ day, when you invited a dignitary to your house for dinner, members of the whole town could attend. While they did not have preferred seating, they could stand against a wall and observe without participating. Into such a setting came a woman who desperately wanted to see Jesus. This woman, a prostitute, was willing to endure the stares and mumblings of the other attendees in order to approach Jesus, this Man she had heard could give her a new life.
Let’s look at first century society for a moment. Three kinds of people were never to be touched: a leper; an immoral person; and a corpse. The leper had to shout out a word of warning to others, “I’m unclean” and everyone would back away. The immoral person would be put out of one’s sight. And it was felt that an infection, be it spiritual or physical, might come upon you if you came in contact with a corpse.
Jesus was not bound by the customs of his day and he defied all three of these social constraints:
When you and Jesus are in the same place, great things can happen! Only he can close the chapter on a tough past with immediate forgiveness — forgiveness that lasts for eternity. Today, our Lord is still available to heal, restore and give eternal life.
Pastor Tim pastored an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years before serving at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years. He and his wife Cindy presently pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana.