Judgment

Today is the story of the woman who anoints Jesus feet at Simon the Pharisees house (Luke 7:36-50).  I think we forget this story when we think our faith is only a set of rules to keep us in line, to use as a measuring stick of judgment on another.  This story paints such a different picture.

The woman come in and immediately goes to Jesus anointing his feet with oil, crying and wiping his feet clean with her hair.  Just think of what a scene this created.  Anyone would be embarrassed to have someone carry on this way, especially at their feet.  She is crossing the lines of intimate space and lovingly reacting to Jesus.  It never says that her intent is to receive forgiveness, she just does what comes to her in the moment.  Or maybe she has planned this for a long time, the ointment would not have been inexpensive and she may have saved up and looked for just the right moment.  We don't know, the gospel writer doesn't tell us.  Neither does Luke tell us what prompted this woman to feel so drawn to Jesus.

The larger point of Luke is that this woman comes in carrying on like this and Jesus does nothing.  No words of forgiveness, no words of condemnation, no anger because of the intimacy with which she is carrying on.  There are no words until the Pharisees think their thoughts and Jesus knows what they are.  "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him-that she is a sinner."  This is all they can see.  Not the love of the act the woman is doing, not her sorrow and grief which weigh her down, not who she is as a child of God, all they can see is what they already know of her she is a sinner.  Not someone good, not someone to be treasured, and certainly not someone to be forgiven. 

This is when Jesus asks the question to Simon about who would appreciate being forgiven more.  A person with a small debt of money say $500 compared to $5000 or if that is too small in this time frame think $5000 compared to $500,000 who is going to be more thankful?  Isn't this the point right here?  Whose life can we touch and make more thankful to God?  Is anyone to be given up on?  What is the right action instead of what appears right?  Allowing her to grieve at his feet and anoint them or shaking her and driving her off because she is no good? 

So often I don't think we really look at Jesus' action.  How the question comes to the religious leaders and not to the woman or to the blind man or to any of the people whose lives Jesus touches.  Judgment can be felt by a person all of their lives, it is much harder to communicate God's love and value for their lives, but isn't that our challenge?