The Kindness Habit: The Fourth Tuesday in Lent

Part 3: Jesus Shows Kindness to Women: Jesus Forgives a Woman’s Sins

There is a lot going on in this story. Jesus is having dinner at the home of a Pharisee. A woman enters the home & begins washing Jesus feet, using her tears & drying them with her hair. The Pharisees are stunned Jesus would let a woman like that touch Him, let alone do something so intimate. Jesus tells a story about forgiven debts. The person with the most debt is the one who is most grateful. Jesus then forgives the woman of her sins & sends her on her way. The Pharisees are shocked. Who is Jesus to forgive sins? A few things I want to point out:

  • The woman is a prostitute. How do I know? She dried Jesus feet with her hair, which she must have been wearing down. The passage doesn’t say she took down her hair. Women in those days were modest about their hair. Only prostitutes wore their hair down;
  • How did this woman get in the house? Some believe she was let in specifically to embarass Jesus;
  • Why didn’t the host offer Jesus water to clean His feet? This was a common practice in those days. One reason may be the Pharisee didn’t feel Jesus deserved ever common courtesy. The other reason might be he knew the woman would be arriving soon.

My mother always said, “You’re known by the company you keep.” This was to remind me my reputation was defined by the people around me as much as my own actions. Jesus simply threw His reputation out the window. He shaped the lives of other people just by associating with them. Jesus had a tender spot for the outcasts. He treated them with respect & love. He forgave them their sins, earning their devotion. Jesus embraced the sort of people many of us distain these days.

You never know the impact a simple encounter might have on someone, someone who feels alone, unloved, unwanted. Their entire life might be turned around. By forgiving her sins, showing her respect, Jesus changed the life of that woman: Mary Magdalene.

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