On the Wall

Mary Magdalene and Jesus

A woman entered Simon the Pharisee’s house with Jesus at dinner time. When guests took their place at the table, she took her place on the wall behind Jesus. She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She kissed them and poured perfume on them. Have you wondered how this woman had enough tears to wash Jesus’ feet. Women, during this time, collected their tears in lachrymatories (tear bottles). When a woman’s husband came home from battle she showed him her lachrymatory to demonstrate how she grieved in his absence. It was also customary in Jesus’ time for outcasts, sinners and the poor to line up on the wall away from the table where people ate.

Simon said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” Knowing the Pharisee’s thoughts, Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven,” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).


Simon ignored the cultural rules of hospitality–to give a kiss of welcome, to offer water to wash his guests’ feet and a towel to dry them; to anoint guests with oil. The woman let down her hair in public, washed and dried Jesus’ feet and anointed them with perfume. Could Jesus have met her before? Could she be Mary Magdalene? The Bible didn’t give her a name. Maybe that’s so we could put our names there. Jesus rescued this woman from a life of sin by forgiving her. He does the same for us. He cares what happens to us.

“Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll–are they not in your record?” (Proverbs 56:8)


Thank you, Father God, for Jesus. Thank you for forgiveness and new life with you. Thank you for examples of worship found in your word. Help us to live in light of our salvation as the woman on the wall did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your Tears Matter

Tear Bottle

“You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?” (Psalm 56:8)

David cried out to God in Psalm 56 when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Women collected their tears in bottles when their husbands were away at war. Although their tears showed how they grieved, they must have celebrated when the man of their house returned.

It is believed that the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50 had two bottles–an alabaster jar of fragrant oil and a lachrymatory or tear bottle. When she found out a Pharisee had invited Jesus to dinner, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind Jesus at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. I believe she also poured out the tears from her lachrymatory. What sorrow must have filled her life?

The Pharisee who invited Jesus said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him–she’s a sinner!” Aware of his thoughts, Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to say to you,” and the Pharisee said, “Say it.”

“A creditor had two debtors. One owed him 500 denarii and one 50. Since they could not repay him, he forgave both of them. Which one will love him more?” Simon said, “I suppose the one he forgave more.” Jesus said, you have judged correctly.” Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. So I tell you, her sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much.” Then Jesus said to the woman “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:36-48).


The Jewish custom of hospitality was to wash their guests feet, give them a holy kiss and anoint them with oil. The Pharisee failed on all of these. Yet the woman offered her worship to Jesus–expensive perfume and her tears. Women didn’t go outside without their hair bound. Her hair was her glory and only for her husband to see. Yet this woman unbound her hair to dry Jesus’ feet. She humbled herself to stand behind Jesus, but she boldly worshiped Him in front of Simon’s guests. Jesus lifted her to a place of honor when he forgave her sins.


Thank you, Lord, for examples of your mercy. Thank you for demonstrating in this story that our tears matter. When we experience loneliness, despair or anxiety, help us to know that you care. Help us to come to you to experience your amazing love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.