At this point the narrative moves to a dinner party. Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to eat with him. This is abit unusual because we have been told in previous passages that the Pharisees were furious with Jesus and wanted to do something to Him. However we must also realize that groups are made of individuals, and they don’t all think and feel the same way. From the John’s Gospel, we know Nicodemas was a Pharisee and a secret follower of Jesus. This Simon may have been curious about Jesus, wanted to debate with Him, or may have had any number of reasons.
Then a woman comes in from the street and interrupts the dinner. Apparently, it was the custom for rich folk to open the doors of their houses when they had guests over so that people could come in and watch them eat. I’m not sure why that would be the practice in general, but with Jesus as the guest of honor, I can image He would draw a large crowd. We also have to get the image of dinner being set at a table with chairs out of our minds. Just about every piece of media I have seen get this wrong. (One exception is The Passion of the Christ, which has a scene early on where Jesus jokes with His mother about having made a high table for the buyer to sit at.) Instead, they reclined on their left sides with their feet pointing away from the table.
So, when we read that this woman comes in and cries directly on Jesus’s feet, don’t think she’s being even more awkward by crawling under the table to get there. It’s still plenty awkward, though, that she has come in, cried on His feet and then wiped off her tears with her hair. Finally she breaks open her very expensive perfume and anoints Jesus’s feet with it.
Simon, instead of trying to get the woman to leave for causing a scene, is instead a bit smug and decides Jesus can’t be that much of a prophet. The woman is apparently infamous for her sinful lifestyle (perhaps she is a prostitute, but it could be a number of things for a Pharisee to label her a sinner), so Jesus “ought” to know about her and “ought” not let her touch Him like she is. Jesus turns it around on him by telling Simon a parable. He explains that the women has been forgiven of many sins, and therefore she loves the One who has forgiven the debt very much. In contrast, Simon thinks he is perfectly righteous and therefore has little to no love, even to the point of not extending common courtesy to a houseguest.
Jesus assures the woman that her sins are forgiven. The others around the table, like the ones who saw the paralyzed man lowered from the roof, wonder who Jesus thinks He is to forgive sins the way God does. This time, we don’t have a record of Jesus addressing these questions, but instead He tells the woman to go in peace for her faith had saved her. It is not the specific acts that she did that saved her, but the motivation behind them, the belief that Jesus was worthy of such honor that spurred her to act.
Orient our towards You, so that our actions may be aligned with Your perfect will.