In Luke 7:36-50, this story of the woman washing Jesus feet with her tears and drying them with her unbound hair is one of the most poignant stories of deep love to God for His mercy and forgiveness there is in Scripture. Her bravery was greater than the Pharisees there.
In those days with dirt streets it was common courtesy for one’s guests to have a lowly servant at the door with water and towel to wash and dry the dirt from their feet. It was also common courtesy to give the kiss of welcome to honored guests. The Pharisees who invited Jesus did none of these. This begs the question of why did they invite Jesus. We have to remember that in general the Pharisees viewed Christ as the enemy, out to destroy their wealth and control of the people. They were not impressed with Jesus’s claim to be the anointed Messiah.
Into this picture comes a woman of poor reputation, whether as a prostitute or a beggar or something else we don’t know. But the Pharisees knew and had no empathy for her. So , she sneaks in behind everyone, coming up to Jesus and sits at his feet making herself like the lowly servants that wash feet. They were all likely reclining on pillows around a low table, so that wasn’t too difficult to do. She would be the only woman there as all the women of the house would be either in the kitchen or other rooms as was proper then. Weeping profusely she purposefully lets her tears cover his feet. Such humility. Then loosing her hair in the midst of disdainful men, she wipes his feet dry with her hair. Taking a beautiful alabaster box of perfume (anointing for burial as she knew they would kill him), that cost a years worth of money, she breaks it and pours the entire contents all over his tear washed feet. Such courage born of deep heart whenching love for the one whom she saw as the most important man around, was unparralled for a woman like her. But how could she not, for somehow she knew who Jesus was.
The Pharisees considered this disgraceful, as they were concerned only with the appearances. They only saw her outward appearance as a sinful woman. But Jesus saw her heart. If they could have been capable of seeing the woman as she truly was, they might have been capable of seeing better who Jesus was.
So, Yeshua gave Simon a lesson in mercy and forgiveness to explain that he who is forgiven more loves more, thus explaining the depth of the woman’s actions of love and worship. It is doubtful whether the Pharisees understood a word since they thought of themselves as righteous and were blind to their own sin.
I suspect we have many Pharisees in our churches today who don’t see believers as God’s anointed in training and look down on them in the same way, and see themselves as more righteous than is true. Let us all beware of this. Such individuals may also, like the Pharisees, not see The Messiah as He truly is either. Let's clean our glasses and see our brethen as Jesus sees us, with mercy and compassion. When we can do this we will be closer to seeing God as He truly is.