I’ve never looked at this scripture for a communion and feet washing service but I saw the practicality. Jesus was going home to eat with the Pharisees. He went home with Zacchaeus and several Pharisees. He enjoyed their cooking but he always taught them something. What do tears and hair have to do with feet washing? A woman entered unwelcome. If Simon the Pharisee had known it he would not have allowed her into his house. Pharisees thought they were above sin and need not repent. Then this woman of sin comes in and does what she did. I saw a strong relationship to this service. When we remember the Lord, it is the giving of his body, not in weakness but power. He gave his blood and it was not the blood of a mere man but of the Son of God. The lamb without spot gave his life so that the power of redemption could happen to all who believe. With his own hands Jesus washed the disciples feet and dried them with a towel. Here a woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.
Luke 7:36 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. 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. 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
It is the middle of Jesus’ three years of ministry and teaching the truths of the kingdom of God. Salvation is more than rules and ceremonial duties at the temple. Jesus taught that it was a matter of the heart and soul. He said on one occasion that “the kingdom of God is within you.” What is on the outside is the expression of what’s on the inside. When we wash feet and dry them with a towel, in itself, it’s just that. But done in remembrance of Jesus it reminds us what it’s all about. Simon had plenty of water for washing and oil to anoint. He had plenty of towels to go around. Yet he let Jesus come in without offering them to him. I’m not sure if others were done the same. The Pharisees were sticklers with ceremonies like hand washing before eating. All they wanted to do was catch Jesus in something he was doing wrong. We can get caught up in things not even in the Bible. Our ceremonies and rules are nothing. Jesus looks at the heart.
This woman came in not caring what others thought. She had nothing prepared for Jesus. She just knew she was lost, a sinner, and wanted to give Jesus something to show him her faith. We can’t bring anything to Jesus but ourselves, our hearts. We are failures in ourselves and just need Jesus. The bread and cup remind us of our need of him. We show our love for him by our service to others. Jesus said that all men would know we’re his disciples by our love for one another. The woman was so broken hearted that she began to weep. She realized her unworthiness. The tears fell on Jesus’ ankles and feet like pouring water over them. She had no towel so she took her hair and wiped away the tears. The feet of Jesus would have been dirty because Simon had not offered him anything to clean them. She didn’t care how dirty her hair got. She just wanted to do something for Jesus. Simon was incensed. Jesus reminded him that he had not offered him water to wash his feet or oil to anoint them. He wasn’t even greeted with the customary kiss. We see Simon’s heart as well as this woman’s. When we remember the suffering and sacrifice of himself that Jesus gave and how he gave to others we see a pattern of how we should treat each other.
What brought this to my mind was helping care for Nita. Due to her illness, I’ve helped take care of her feet. She said she never thought she’d get in that condition that she’d need me to do that. It made me think. How far are we willing to go? How much are we willing to serve? Not just those we know and love but those we don’t. Jesus said if we only help those we know and love, what good is it. These are hard lessons that get to the depth of our hearts. If we want to reflect Jesus in this society, this is what we have to do. We might have to get dirty or do something repulsive. It takes selflessness. Jesus laid himself aside and died for us. As often as we participate in acts like this, we do them in his honor.
Because of what this woman gave to Jesus, he said to her “Thy sins are forgiven.” Let’s just serve Jesus.