Moses in Egypt standing before Pharaoh.
Elijah versus Ahab and Jezebel. Jonah—finally—
in Nineveh. Daniel in the lions’ den. Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego in the fire. Stephen
speaking truth to a hostile crowd. Paul at the
amphitheater at Ephesus. Peter and other
apostles before the council. Each in his own way
in the lair of the enemy. Each in the dragon’s
maw. Each at risk of reputation, of freedom, and
of life. Each convinced of the truth. Each
The invitation that Jesus received from Simon
the Pharisee is an interesting one. It was not
necessarily unexpected or unusual, since the
Pharisees were already particularly invested in the
activities of this Nazarene. But it is nonetheless
noteworthy. The story quickly becomes
provocative, and therefore imminently fascinating.
Virtually concurrent with the arrival of Jesus, the
plot thickens—a “woman of the city” shows up at
the house. “Woman of the city” is, of course, a
thinly-veiled reference to the fact that this is a
woman of ill repute. She is a person of dismal
reputation. She parades moral laxity, to say the
least. Yet here she is, following Jesus to this
house and shamelessly entering. Into the lair of
the enemy. Into the dragon’s maw. This
undesirable invader infiltrates dinner, putting at
hazard what meager status she may still possess.
She risks her freedom, and possibly even her life.
Hers is a courageous move.
Luke’s description of the encounter is direct.
There is no communication between the woman
and Simon the Pharisee, and no interaction
between her and the other guests. Her attention is
on Jesus alone. She begins immediately to anoint
Jesus, to weep over him, and to honor him. She
spares no expense in her care for Jesus,
financially or otherwise. She lays it all on the line
with no thought for self. Her sole focus is Jesus.