I want to look at the journey of faith with the third post of my series on “Dining with Jesus.” There is a specific story of one woman’s journey of faith we read about in the second meal with Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. I think there is a lot to learn from the story we read in Luke 7:36-51.
The passage can be read in its entirety here. I encourage you to take a few seconds to read the text before we get started. I will touch on a few specific verses throughout the post, but they need to be kept in their proper context.
The first detail from this story that needs our attention is who is throwing this dinner for Jesus. Simon, a Pharisee, hosts the gathering to have Jesus come and eat and speak to his friends. I discussed what this would have looked like with last week’s post. First, many of Simon’s friends would have been invited to come and partake in the meal. Then, once everyone was finished eating, others would have been invited to come in and hear Jesus teach or speak from a distance.
This is what we read about in Luke 7:36-50. A woman from the city, a sinner, walks in on the party. Her journey of faith has led her to seek out Jesus wherever she has to go to find Him. This woman isn’t ok with attending the after-party and listening to Jesus from a distance. She doesn’t need to be reminded that she is a sinner. Her shame and guilt, her need for forgiveness, is so blatantly clear in her own eyes that she is willing to get as close to Jesus as she can, despite what Simon and the others might think.
In verse 38, we learn that she stands directly behind Jesus as he reclines at the table. She brings a flask of ointment, washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, drys His feet with her hair, kisses the feet of Jesus, and then anoints them with the ointment she had brought.
Imagine what would have been going through the minds of Simon and the other guests? Here they were, enjoying a meal and getting to know Jesus better. This woman, who is well known as a sinner, dares to come and interrupt the event with her crying. Think about the scene this would have created? Instead of being frustrated with the commotion taking place, Simon’s mind goes to, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
It’s stories such as this one that remind me of my fifty years of snubbing my nose at Jesus and the love that awaited me when I finally let Him in. Scripture tells us in Luke 7:40 that Jesus knows what Simon is thinking to himself. He goes on to tell Simon a story of a moneylender with two different debtors. Jesus uses the example of the woman to explain how those forgiven for much have much love to give. Those who have been forgiven little, love little.
Jesus goes on in verse 48 to tell the woman that her sins have been forgiven because of her faith. Of course, those in attendance at the dinner immediately begin questioning who he thinks He is to tell someone their sins are forgiven? But, because of her faith, the woman is allowed to go in peace, knowing that her sins have been forgiven.
There are three main takeaways I want to touch on from this woman’s journey of faith that led her to Jesus with the rest of this post. For starters, she was willing to seek Jesus out. Even if it meant ruining a well-attended dinner party, she was going to do whatever needed to be done to spend time with Jesus.
Secondly, she was willing to mourn over her own sins, which takes a tremendous amount of humility. While everyone wanted to focus on who she was and what she was doing wrong, she focused on Jesus. She was humble before her Lord.
Thirdly, she was willing to surrender herself to Jesus' will. Because she was ready to do whatever Jesus commanded, He told her to go in peace. Let’s get started with pursuing Jesus.
A journey of faith starts with our own brokenness
Throughout the four Gospels, we read of Jesus going out of His way to bump into specific people. This is actually how each of the original 12 disciples are called to follow. Jesus makes sure He crosses a few paths and ends up with an inner circle of 12.
This is one of the stories we read where the person goes out of their way to find Jesus. These are the people in desperate enough need for Him that they will do whatever it takes to spend just a few minutes with Jesus. They go out of their way to make themselves available to God.
This is something we regularly need to be doing ourselves. Time with Jesus isn’t something we do when it’s convenient for us. It’s just the opposite. Our time with Jesus is what everything else should be scheduled around. This is the kind of commitment we need if our journey of faith is going to be used to glorify God. Jesus is only going to be as important in our lives as we make Him. If you want your faith to be one of the defining characteristics of who you are, you have to be going out of your way to make yourself available to Jesus.
Mourning over our sins
If you notice in our story today, this woman is cleansing Jesus’ feet with her own tears. These weren’t tears of joy from being in His presence. They also weren’t tears from situations or circumstances. Instead, this woman was weeping over her own sins. She was spiritually broken and knew that Jesus was her only hope.
We know from Paul’s letter to the Romans that, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Still, we need to feel the weight of our own sins from time to time. We need to be reminded of the depravity of our sin. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we become perfect and never sin again. Sin is going to happen, and we need to remember that it separates us from the presence of God.
There’s no condemnation, but there is the feeling of letting God down. Keep in mind, though. You were never holding Him up, to begin with. Still, until we are willing to mourn over our sin, we are never going to experience the comfort we can only find through Him. Remember, blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted—we don’t want to miss that blessing. The secret is to follow this woman’s example and weep in a way that guides us closer to Jesus instead of pulling us further away from Him. He quickly comforts us so our tears turn to praise, worship and anointing Him!
Living a life of surrender
As I mentioned earlier, this woman was completely willing to obey whatever Jesus asked her to do. She sought Jesus, ready to go wherever needed to encounter His presence. She wept over her sins, showing a desire to be forgiven and repent. She then surrendered her will to Jesus. As a result, she was saved by her faith and allowed to leave in peace.
We have to be willing to follow each of these steps, especially living a life of surrender. This is how we go about living God’s will in our daily lives. We become meek, allowing Him to take the reins. Jesus becomes our guide, leading us towards what He has in store for us. This leads to being blessed. We can live a life of peace, regardless of the situations and circumstances going on around us. Even if someone ruins our dinner party.