Love in Action: At His Feet (Luke 7:36-50)

By Jen Akin

The scene begins with an unnamed Pharisee opening his home to Jesus, inviting Him to have dinner.  Jesus accepts the invitation, and we find Him reclining at the table and engaging in conversation with His host and the other invited men.

In the doorway, a slight figure appears. She is unkempt, malnourished, and barefooted. Her face reveals a life of broken dreams and poor life choices. Her clothes are thin, her hair bound loosely with a scrap from a tattered hem. The day’s work is not nearly done, but she has interrupted it because she heard HE will be there. Like the host, this woman has witnessed His miracles and heard of the many who were healed.

The woman quietly moves just behind the special guest, a jar in her hand. Everything inside her tells her that  this man is the one, the “rescuer.” Her tears of embarrassment, regret and shame spill down her face and over His well-traveled feet. She loosens her hair and uses it to gently wipe the tears away. She kisses his feet, then gently pours precious perfume over them. It is the only thing of worth she has to offer. 

The host, observing this display of overwhelming affection, leans back, muttering, “Does this Rabbi who claims to be a prophet know who is touching Him?  And what sins she carries with her?” 

The Rabbi Jesus sees the host's critical eye and chastising stare directed at the woman. A lesson in love, compassion, and forgiveness is necessary, so Jesus shares a parable that draws out what the Pharisee already knows: Those with significant debts forgiven respond with overwhelming love for the one who has shown compassion for them.

The teacher turns his attention back to the woman, still kneeling at the teacher's feet, and the host's gaze follows.

Jesus, speaking more directly, points out the disparity between the heart of his host and the heart of the broken woman before him. Those who have been forgiven much…love much. Those who have been forgiven little…love little.

The teacher holds the woman’s face in his hands, raising her eyes to meet his. Your sins have been forgiven, he whispers. Go in peace.

The room rumbles with murmurs from the guests who have witnessed this interaction, Who is this man?

Lord,

We are overwhelmed with your abundant generosity, grace and mercy. May you find us faithfully at your feet, pouring out all we have for your glory. Thank you for showing us how to love one another well by the ways you have loved us. We pray for open eyes and hearts to see where we can enter into your plan to love and restore this world to you.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen