Encounter: Sinful Woman

Encountering Jesus’ desire

to give us a clean slate

Luke 7:36-50

By Sarah Wakeen

Someone once told me that Jesus knows your sin but calls you by your name, while the enemy knows your name but calls you by your sin. The story of the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50 reminds me of this because Jesus knew her sin, probably even better than she knew it herself, but He chose to see her faith and love for Him and her true desire for repentance. This reminds me of John 8:7 when Jesus says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He had the most cause to condemn this woman for her sin, but He chose not to because He is merciful and compassionate.

This story shows me Jesus’ gentleness in the way He dealt with the Pharisee Simon — and the woman. He gently called out Simon for his judgment of the woman, but He did not indict or condemn him for it. Jesus commended the woman for her acts of humble service and allowed her faith to be an example to those traditionally considered higher in status than she. 

Jesus’ humility shined in this account as He allowed Himself to be anointed by tears and oil and then wiped with this woman’s hair. As the heavenly King sent down to earth, He deserved the most sacred and holy anointing that the world could offer, but He humbled Himself in this moment, a microcosm of the humility He ultimately showed on the cross by taking all our sins and dying in our place! 

His holiness is also evident, for He is deeply worthy of such an anointing. I see His radical forgiveness and deep, steadfast love for His people that is not won by works but given in grace. When I encountered this grace from Jesus, I realized that I am nothing without Him.

I grew up in a family that encouraged independence and doing things all on your own, on self-sufficiency, and on excelling in your field by your own strength. Encountering Jesus subverted this belief and showed me how deeply it ran in my heart. I now know that I can’t be or do anything apart from Christ, that all I am or do originates in Him, and that only He can give me strength for each day. He alone is sufficient for me!

But this was a super hard lesson to learn, one that required me to experience the faithfulness of God before I could trust Him enough to give up the things I desired to control. As I began to give up the small things in my life, the Lord was faithful to provide even better things than I could have produced for myself. As time went on, I was able to give up even bigger things and to trust that the Lord’s strength and provision would be better than what I could provide for myself. 

This trust in the Lord’s faithfulness has manifested recently in the ability to give up my time, specifically in taking a Sabbath each week, believing that the Lord will provide enough time for me to accomplish what I need to do. I have yet to encounter a time where the Lord did not honor my faithfulness in setting aside my admittedly workaholic desires for a day to do something that I knew would be edifying to me and, more importantly, honoring to Him. Encountering Jesus has made me rethink what I thought I knew about my own sufficiency and forced me to rely on His strength instead of my own. Oh, how freeing that is!

Sarah Wakeen is a senior at the University of Oregon studying Elementary Special Education and is set to go into the graduate program this coming fall. She is super involved in The Good Fight, the college ministry of UFC, as a student leader and loves doing ministry with her peers. She enjoys reading and playing board games. She recently got engaged!