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Tag: Jesus and women

Lenten Reflections 2021: Jesus and an Unnamed, Unwanted, Uninvited, Unacceptable Woman


@johnvinod | March 20, 2021

Continuing our focus on Jesus Christ reaching out to the rejected and socially marginalized men and women of his time, let us begin by reading Luke 7: 36-50. It is a familiar story of an unnamed, unwanted, and uninvited woman. She came to Jesus at a dinner party hosted by a self-righteous Pharisee named Simon.

In the Middle Eastern culture of Jesus’ time, such dinners were open to the public. They normally had large courtyards where anyone could walk in uninvited and sit around observing and listening to a guest as the meal progressed. This woman seized the opportunity upon learning that Jesus was in her neighborhood. And she brought one of her most precious possessions, an alabaster flask full of expensive perfume, for the guest of honor. Obviously, she must have learned who Jesus was and what he has been doing.

The people in Jesus’ time did not sit at a dining table with upright chairs with their feet stuck underneath the table, as all western painters would have us believe. Instead, the Jews reclined/leaned on cushions around a low-rise platform/table, leaving their feet stretched out behind them and away from the table. The original text states, Jesus reclined on the couch at a table (Luke 7: 36-37). His feet must have been bare as it was customary to leave the sandals at the entrance and wash one’s feet before entering the house (Luke 7: 44). This is the kind of arrangement which made it easy for Jesus to go around as he washed his disciple’s feet in John 13: 1-7. And in our story today, for this unnamed woman to walk in and approach Jesus’ feet:

She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment (Luke 7: 38 NRSV).

This woman is introduced as a “sinner” (Luke 7: 37 & 39), but the nature of her sin is not revealed. Whatsoever it may have been, a conviction and remorse for her sins were evoked in the presence of Jesus Christ and it flowed through her tears. She kept wiping her tears off Jesus’ feet with her hair and kissing them fervently as she applied the highly scented oil/perfume/ointment.

The Pharisee host was scandalized by what he saw happening at his dining table. He doubted Jesus’ identity as a prophet because he did not shrink from the woman’s presence and actions that others perceived as immodest.

The story ends with Jesus teaching Simon and others more than one lesson. Despite knowing her sins, Jesus did not shrink from her adoration. Instead, he declared: “Your sins are forgiven!” (Luke 7: 48). What an assurance to someone who was being whispered about and weeping with penitence at the savior’s feet. You can imagine her joy. Not only forgiven, but she was also sent home with the assurance of salvation and wholesome peace (Luke 7:50).   

Jesus teaches us that anyone rejected and unacceptable by the society and their religious leaders can be accepted and loved in his presence. People gossiped about her, made her feel unwanted and unworthy. They wanted her condemned and would have hailed Jesus for condemning her. However, Christ’s presence induced conviction of her sins, and his acceptance gave her a fresh start in life. Despite her past life Jesus offered her acceptance, forgiveness, salvation, and peace.

We often tend to label and stereotype people like this woman whom we consider worthless. Jesus teaches us once again to reach out to such misfits with the message of love, grace, and forgiveness, if we are to follow Christ. If we are ever tempted to think of our faith as too sophisticated, pure, and self-righteous like the Pharisee, which can only accept perfect saints, may we be reminded how Jesus dealt with people like Zacchaeus and this unnamed woman.

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Lenten Reflections 2021: Jesus Turns the Tables in Favor of the Underprivileged Women

Zen Chung from Pexels

@johnvinod | March 19, 2021

Jesus Christ reached out to the rejected and marginalized people in his society. Like we noticed yesterday in Zacchaeus’ case in Jericho, Jesus did the same to a woman at the temple in Jerusalem. Please read John 8: 1-11.

Jesus was teaching in the temple courtyard surrounded by an eager crowd. A commotion interrupted Jesus’ teaching. Everyone looked in the direction of uproar. The scribes (experts in Jewish law) and the Pharisees (part of a Jewish sect demanding strict observance of the Mosaic law) dragged a woman and brought her in front of Jesus. Their motive was to test Jesus’ response and so condemn him. The charge against the woman was quite serious: She was “caught in the act of adultery” (John 8: 4b). They were also quick to remind Jesus that the Mosaic Law demanded such women should be stoned to death. “So what do you say?” they asked Jesus Christ putting him in a quandary.

This is where we notice Jesus did what he was always acted in his ministry—reaching out to the rejected, condemned, sinful, and marginalized men and women living on the edge at the mercy of others. Her life depended on what Jesus would say.

Jesus, brilliant as he always was in such circumstances, turned the tables. His response upheld the law, but also went deeper and revealed the grace of God, saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8: 7). It was impossible to follow this rule in practice; therefore, making her execution impossible to carry out. The embarrassment was no longer hers, but theirs now. After her accusers left one by one, John records:

“And Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him” (John 8: 9)

Hence, Jesus saved her life and upheld the Mosaic law killing two birds with one stone. How? Well, Jesus realized what the religious authorities deliberately did was to leave out the vital part of the demand of the Mosaic law. That is, Leviticus 20:10 required that both partners caught in adultery should be stoned to death. The man was, however, completely missing from the story. Jesus saw through their deception and the simple fact that the “act of adultery” could not be committed by the woman in solitude. Why was the man allowed to escape from the scene and facing judgement? If his life could be spared, so should be her life, equally created in the image of God.

Nevertheless, I expected that Jesus would condemn the sinful woman in private instead of embarrassing her in public. However, thank God that Jesus is not like you or me. Jesus categorically said that he did not condemn her… neither in public nor in private! This does not mean he declared her guiltless. Instead, he asserted, “for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12: 47, 3:16). He also commanded her to stop sleeping around; saying, “sin no more” and get on with her life.

Jesus once again saw value in the life of an adulterous woman who was completely dejected. When everyone thought she did not deserve to live, Jesus saw worth in her life and believed in her to give her a second chance. Therefore, when we come across people feeling left out and worthless due to their gender, ethnicity, or bad choices, let us follow Jesus and help them see that they are valuable in God’s eyes. They deserve God’s grace and forgiveness. They are worthy of second chances, an opportunity to turn around from sin, and live by the grace of God. Will we decide today to follow Jesus in his footsteps and bring hope, forgiveness, and grace in many a life like this unnamed woman of Jerusalem?

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