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 meat. 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, 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 7:36-38
Too often the Lord’s people want to enjoy church rather than truly worshipping God. We want to have the joyful experience of feeling forgiven, but we shy away from the penitent heart that truly brings us closer to Christ.
As a pastor, I have been asked on more than one occasion, “How do you know if someone is penitent?” Well, let’s look at one of the clearest examples in scripture.
We do not have a lot of details about this woman’s sins except that they were very public. Most likely she was a “woman of the streets” and her occupation was sinful indeed. Yet, when we meet her, she is mourning for her sins and seeks to find rest from her Savior.
She enters the Pharisee’s house without permission and also violates proper etiquette by going straight to the guest of the dinner. Yet she does not go demanding anything. She goes and stands by His feet, taking the position of a servant.
Next, she weeps so greatly for her sins that her tears are sufficient to wash the feet of Jesus! The hair that was her prideful beauty before, she uses to wipe His feet. She kisses His feet with the mouth that formerly was filled with vile motivation. Finally, she takes oil that no doubt was formerly used for herself in her sinful occupation, and anoints the feet of Jesus.
All of these things point to a broken and contrite spirit, but they also show that the woman understood that she had a hope of salvation in Jesus.
Our refusal to acknowledge our sins, confess them to the Lord, and repent of them, block our ability to truly see Jesus as the wonderful Savior that He truly is!
Oh, that we could have the same spirit of repentance!
Oh, that we could ignore the opinions and protocols of society!
Oh, that we could come to Jesus as a servant neither asking nor demanding anything, only to serve Him.
Oh, that we could truly mourn for not only our sins but the sins of others!
Oh, that we could count all our prideful things and desires as nothing!
Oh, that our mouths could cease from lying and vain babblings to be filled with the praises of God!
Oh that we could take that which we fed ourselves with for so long and give thanks to God with all that we have!
O THAT I could repent!
With all my idols part,
And to thy gracious eye present
A humble, contrite heart;
A heart with grief oppressed
For having grieved my God,
A troubled heart that cannot rest,
Till sprinkled with thy blood.
Jesus, on me bestowA hymn by Charles Wesley, 1759
The penitent desire;
With true sincerity of woe
My aching breast inspire;
With softening pity look,
And melt my hardness down,
Strike with thy love’s resistless stroke,
And break this heart of stone!