Simon was a Pharisee. He lived a monochrome religious life that was “cut and dried” and had no room for questioning or grace. One day he invited Jesus to his home, presumably for some quiet conversation and theological debate.
So when a woman burst into his polite dinner party, he and his guests were horrified. In her hands was a beautiful alabaster jar, like the type used to carry perfumed ointment, and her eyes were bloodshot and moist. A room full of male eyes telescoped to see what the commotion was.
The woman had come to the private party because she knew Jesus would be there, and she wanted to express her deep gratitude for the way he had blessed her life.
She found the shortest route across the room and then fell on the floor at his feet, her tears dropping all over them. The moment was awkward beyond words, but she didn’t care. Love never concerns itself with propriety.
She used her hair as a poor substitute for a towel. With the skin of Jesus feet still glistening, the woman wastefully, effusively poured expensive ointment all over them. Jesus had restored her life, and she wanted him to know that her heart was overflowing like the ointment spilling out of the jar.
The Pharisees stood around stroking their beards criticizing Jesus and condemning the woman. In their eyes Jesus was doubly damned. Damned if he knew what kind of woman she was. Damned if he didn’t know.
Pharisees hated things like this. They lived in a world of law, judgment, and fairness. Giving grace to a person who lived on the religious and social fringes of their lives was blasphemous. Grace was and is dangerous, like an addictive drug that only a pharmacist can dispense.
Grace cannot coexist with judgment and hatred. Simon and his friends talked more after Jesus and the woman left Simon’s home. “Did you hear that? He claimed to have forgiven her sins. Only God can do that!”
I hope that Simon came to understand that there was not much separating him from “that woman.” Both stood in need of grace. Both would be transformed in character more by grace than by law.
The expensive ointment spilling out of her alabaster jar showed the extent to which grace had led her to give her life to Jesus. And the law had led Simon to be stingy with invitations to his home and his offers of acceptance and forgiveness.
I want to identify with Jesus. To believe that I am generous with grace. That I would not condemn, be impatient with, or ostracize another person. I fear that I may, at times, hang around with Simon to second guess what I just saw Jesus do.