When I hear someone refer accusingly to another person as a “sinner,” (as if it’s something unique and distinctive, pertaining to only that individual), I honestly can’t help but roll my eyes. Judgmentally calling other people “sinners” is essentially saying, “they’re a human being, just like the rest of us!” If you’re a living, breathing person with a soul, then, I hate to break it to you, but YOU are a SINNER. I AM A SINNER. WE ARE ALL SINNERS. This isn’t some exclusive club that requires a membership. We were all born into this club.
In Luke 7:36-50, a woman enters the home of a Pharisee, where Jesus also happened to be spending time. She came specifically to see Jesus. It was incredibly bold for a woman of her reputation to be anywhere near a Pharisee, much less enter one of their homes. Pharisees didn’t make a habit of spending time with sinners. And that’s what they called her too. They oh-so-valiantly, and oh-so-humbly (don’t miss my sarcasm) warned Jesus that “she is a sinner,” as if she had some kind of contagious disease and Jesus should express gratitude that they alerted Him to the state of this wretched person. They couldn’t see clearly enough through their thick, religious hubris to recognize they were, in reality, just like this woman. They were sinners too.
Jesus knew this, of course. How did He choose to respond? Our sweet Jesus responds with all the grace and patience that one would expect from the Savior of the world. He allowed the woman to repent, washing His feet with perfume and her bitter, heartfelt tears. Jesus knew she was sinful, even before He was told. He knew of her sins, even before she knelt down to wash His feet. Yet, He still welcomed her. He shared a parable with the Pharisees, in hopes they too could see the heart of this woman and discover their own faults. Then, He says to them, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
I don’t know if these Pharisees learned their lesson after this incident. The Bible doesn’t say. But we can learn our own lessons here. Maybe you’re a Pharisee who needs to be reminded that you too are a sinner in need of Jesus, just as much as that convicted felon on death row. Maybe you’re the sinful woman who boldly and courageously approached Jesus, aware of her depravity and deep need of forgiveness from her Savior. It doesn’t matter which one you are, the conclusion to this story should look the same for all of us. We should all end up humbly at the feet of Jesus, our tears of repentance and the sweet perfume of our prayers washing His feet in complete surrender. That’s where all sinners belong.