Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing, in my opinion, and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty. —Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
“But you don’t know what I’ve done.”
No, I don’t, but I can guess:
Some of you have had an abortion.
Some of you have had an affair, and your spouse is still unaware.
Some of you have embezzled.
Some of you have neglected and abused your children.
The list goes on and on, and we struggle to forgive ourselves. Surely a holy God cannot forgive us or love us either.
And so we’re desperate to know: Is there any hope?
Luke 7:36-50 holds our answer. Jesus has been invited to dine with one of the Pharisees named Simon. Jesus is reclined for dinner, propping his weight on one elbow and extending his feet away from the table (this was the way they ate dinner in those days), when a woman enters the story.
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. (Luke 7:37a)
“Sinful life” can be translated as “line crosser.” Imagine the awkward hush that fell upon the room as she entered. Imagine the heightened tension as she cried on the guest of honor’s feet and wiped them clean with her hair. Such a gesture further proved her sinfulness, as a woman of good social standing would have kept her hair covered at all times.
Let me ask you, what might you have done if this were your dinner party? You invited the pastor over, and a prostitute is now kissing his feet—would you speak up?
Jesus’ host says nothing, but he does think something, “If [Jesus] were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).
Ironically, Jesus reads his mind: “Simon, I have something to tell you…” (v. 40).
Jesus is about to speak into Simon’s thoughts toward this woman. The days of ostracizing those considered too sinful needed to end.
Jesus, open my ears to hear what You have to say about those “irredeemable” moments in my life and in the lives of others. You allowed a woman marked by poor choices to engage with You intimately. This is my hope. Lead me into this intimacy. Amen.
Learn more from Pete’s teaching on Luke, What Will Jesus Do?