Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spoke within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touches him: for she is a sinner. Luke 7:39
Jesus likes to startle us. He tells us He is God, that He is the Savior, and the Judge. So we think “Good! Now He will get those miserable sinners!”. Then He startles us even more by not doing what we want and allowing sinners to be near Him. And He eats a meal with them. Why?
To start with, from our point of view, Jesus should not have been in that place. He was at the house of a Pharisee. They were His enemies, but He went to eat with them anyway. “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house and sat down to eat.” Luke 7:36
Then a woman, a prostitute it seems, or some other kind of vile, wicked sinner, came into the house and sat down next to Him. Jesus did not flinch. The bible tells us what happens in these two verses.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Luke 7:37-38
He is in a house He should not be in, invited by a person He should not talk to, having His feet washed by a person He should avoid. What kind of Savior is this? It is the one we all need!
We are saved by grace, and by the grace of Jesus we are allowed to come near to Him. In fact, He pursues us and invites us into His presence so that we can repent and turn to Him in faith. You can read the story of the “prodigal son” in Luke 15:11-32. The father in the story, God, ran out to meet His returning son. He also went after and spoke with the older son who was angry about the celebration over the return of the younger son. This is a lot of grace and forgiveness!
By grace we are welcomed in and brought near to God. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do have to repent, just like the woman did in this story. Even more, we cannot stop those we do not like from being drawn into His presence and repenting.
Does Jesus then, as some say today, let sin go and just love everyone? No! In this story, as in the story of the prodigal son, the woman at the well in John 4, and many others, Jesus never once compromises His message. He always requires that we get clean of our sin through repentance. And He always pursues us as long as we live. That is the Savior we need! And the grace we need!