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Luke 7, Proverbs 18

Jesus’ interaction with a sinful woman and the Pharisee at a dinner party teaches us something profound about Jesus’ mission. The woman, we are told, lived a sinful life, and many have inferred she was therefore a prostitute. Her wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair at a dinner, which was likely an open air event with some people coming and going, was an incredibly intimate gesture. For a Middle Eastern culture, the head was the most honorable part of the body, and the feet the most dishonorable. For her to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair was to express extreme devotion. When Jesus tells his story about a great and small debt to let the Pharisee know why Jesus is honored by this woman, we miss the point of the story if we think these words of Jesus tell us the Pharisee is only guilty of small crimes: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47) Jesus’ point isn’t that the prostitute has a much greater debt, but that she sees her debt as great, and is therefore thankful. Like Jesus promised in Luke 4, he has come to proclaim liberty to the captives, and this woman shows her immense devotion. May we as the church hope that all of us with great debts would come to Jesus with such radical devotion as these.

Jeremiah Vaught