Where in the Bible are the words “Your faith has saved you”? There are quite a few accounts of Jesus speaking those words, however, the first one I found struck a chord. You will find this teaching of faith and forgiveness in Luke 7:36-50 and it contrasts the attitudes towards Jesus by a “sinful” woman and a Pharisee. It’s the story of one woman’s acts of worship that flowed from her new saving faith. It was her response to Jesus that inspired me.
Jesus and the Pharisee
The story begins with Jesus accepting an invitation to dine at the home of Simon, the Pharisee. Jesus enters and reclines at the dinner table. Verse 37 states, “When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume.”
It wasn’t altogether unusual for the woman to attend as the social customs of the day permitted needy people to visit these banquets to receive some leftovers.
This woman, however, did not seem to come for the physical food, but rather, the spiritual. She brought a jar of perfumed ointment and approached Jesus. His back would have been to her as he ate. “As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.” v38.
She must have heard Jesus speak of his love, faith, and forgiveness because she comes to the Pharisee’s home to seek him out. Her heart drew her to Jesus for hope and healing. Her emotions overcome her, but she does not say a word. Just being in His presence brings tears to her eyes. Her emotional floodgates open, and her tears are copious enough to wet his feet!
Jesus Anointed with Oil
It was the custom of the times for guests entering a home to be greeted with a kiss, have one’s feet washed, and head anointed with oil.
While Simon provided none of these to Jesus, we see the woman provides all three.
As she stands there crying, she notices that her tears are falling on Jesus’ dusty feet. She kneels down to wipe them with the only thing she had; her long hair. She kisses his feet continually and pours her perfume on them.
She showed Jesus her love, humility, and gratitude for the offer of forgiveness for her sins.
Her emotional display appalls Simon. He assumes that Jesus could not be the prophet he proclaimed to be as he would know “what kind of woman she is- that she is a sinner” (verse 39). According to the tradition of the Pharisees, the woman’s touch would have rendered Jesus unclean.
But Jesus does not shy away from the woman and he does nothing to stop her actions. While the Pharisee and the other guests would recoil from the woman’s touch, Jesus accepts her touch as an act of worship.
Jesus rebukes Simon by telling him that the woman has outshone Simon by her acts of love and devotion to him. While Simon thought her the greater sinner, Jesus points out she has greater love. “I tell you that her many sins are forgiven. This is clear because she showed great love.” v47
The woman’s great love wasn’t the basis for her forgiveness.
Jesus was explaining to Simon that she showed great love and devotion as a response to the gift of forgiveness.
Saved by Faith
Jesus turns to the woman and makes it clear in his response to her: “Your sins are forgiven” (verse 48)… “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Verse 50.) The woman had faith in Jesus’ forgiveness; she came to him with a repentant heart.
When she felt the absolute, precious love of Jesus’ forgiveness; love and gratitude overcame her. All she had to do was to come to Him in faith.
The woman purposefully came to him as a sinner seeking forgiveness. She showed humility by washing and anointing his feet, a task normally provided by the lowliest of servants. She poured her heart out to him through her tears.
Jesus doesn’t recoil, or rebuke the woman. He doesn’t embarrass her but accepts her gifts of love and reverence.
I love that the woman in this story remains nameless as well as the city. It can, therefore, apply to any of us, in any town.
Don’t we all have many sins? This story speaks to knowing our own hearts, being conscious of our sins, and resting at the feet of Jesus for his forgiveness and love.
I want to come to Jesus like this woman! I wonder how odd this might sound to her if she could hear those words right now. Her sorrow for her sin and her love for Jesus is so inspiring. I want to come with worship and love for all he does for me.
I want to have her depth of gratefulness sealed in my heart.
When my mind is racing or stresses bring worry, I want to rest at His feet. When I see His beauty in nature or enjoy time with a loved one, I want to rest at His feet. What better place to be in the moments of our busy days than to worship and rest in faith and forgiveness at the feet of Jesus?
We sit at your feet today, Jesus, with an overflowing grateful heart. We praise you for the hope, love, renewal, and perfect peace you give. Each day we come to you as a sinner, and each day you accept our worship and invite us to sit with you. Accept our earnest praise and adoration today, Lord. At this moment, we ask for nothing, but only wish to rest at your feet. We love you, Jesus!
Here’s another post about a woman who comes to a saving faith in Jesus! Lydia of Thyatira
1 thought on “Faith and Forgiveness”
Lots of good historical and spiritual truth!