Print this Page

This can’t be right.... Can it?

A woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learnt that he [Jesus Christ c. AD33] was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of perfume, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.          Luke 7: 37-38


One of the many things that intrigue visitors to Amsterdam is its red-light district. It’s very easy to find – at night.


The equivalent in St Helier is not so well advertised. “Ask a policeman” is a good suggestion if anyone asks you for directions. They’ll know.


There are a good number of attractive young ladies in St Helier who are neither expensively dressed nor Jersey-born. Because of the real and painful economic struggles at home they’ve come to Jersey to work. And most are well-qualified educationally and super employees.


The very observant may have spotted one or two very well-dressed and apparently highly successful among them in King Street – and wondered.


Take a look (see bold above) at the “woman of the city, who was a sinner”. Her profession - the oldest profession in the world – was clear to the host of this dinner party – a man nick-named Simon the leper. He said to himself (as folk do), “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”


In Simon’s case there’s something meaningful about that word “touching” because this host, now an important Pharisee, must at one time have been “untouchable” by all humankind, even by such a lover. But that’s changed.


Simon the host had important protocols to follow – as host. Because the streets were used by animals as well as humans and because all wore open sandals and because all reclined on cushions at dinner it was important that feet were washed before guests reclined. Simon had not arranged this for Jesus his guest. Also, neither the customary kiss of welcome nor the usual head anointing had been provided. Jesus was a guest – but the very observant would spot the Simon/Jesus relationship problem.     


There was therefore a telling dichotomy between the “woman of the city” and Simon. The woman was unclean and lavished love on Jesus. The host was clean and gave subliminal messages that he was not a Jesus fan.


So Jesus’ feet needed washing. What better than the water of this lady’s tears? Well, one thing might possibly be better than that. This lady had a store of wealth in the form of perfume. Jesus’ biographer, Mark, records its worth: one year’s wages for a labourer. Around £15,000 today. 


How had this lady obtained this store of value? It’s pretty obvious. The oldest profession in the world is a profitable one. She now wanted to demonstrate her commitment to this man Jesus by blessing him with all of it. All her immoral earnings from men were given to this man.


Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii (c. £25,000) and the other fifty (c. £2,500). When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”


Jesus said to the woman“Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?  And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.


Surely Jesus wouldn’t be associated with a woman of St Helier like that?


And are there many folk like Simon in Jersey today?  


Could his/their relationship with Jesus be described as “unforgivable”?

‘I will not glory because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed; not because I am clear of sin, but because my sins are forgiven.’ (Ambrose, Roman politician and theologian, 337-397)
‘The pleasures of being forgiven are as superior to the pleasures of an unforgiven man as heaven is higher than hell.” (Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Preacher, Pastor and Poet, 1813-1843)
Richard Syvret

Email this newsletter to a friend
*All mandatory fields must be filled in

Friend`s name
Friend`s email address *
Your name
Your email address *

Send comment
*All mandatory fields must be filled in

Your name *
Your email address *
Your comment *