The Forty: Day Ten

Devotional 10:

Scripture Reading: Luke 7:36-50


Most of us will probably recognize the story of the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:36-50. Jesus is a guest at the house of a Pharisee named Simon when a woman everyone knows to be a prostitute comes in with a bottle of expensive perfume, dumps it on Jesus’ feet, and proceeds to wash His feet with a mixture of the perfume and her tears. It is as this is happening that we gain important insight through Simon’s comments: “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of women this is who is falling over him” (v. 39, MSG).


Simon shows us how our preconceived notions and beliefs can hinder us from truly seeing or knowing what is right in front of us. Because Simon “thought” Jesus was a prophet, he assumed Jesus would act in a certain way and would have distanced himself from someone as unclean and unrighteous as this woman, most likely because in those days, the uncleanliness of the woman should have transferred onto Jesus, making Him unclean as well.


Simon is not the first to make this assumption though. Earlier, In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah also has his own “run-in” with God. He is in the middle of a vision in which he finds himself literally standing in the throne room of God. Upon realizing that he, being unclean, is standing in the presence of a holy and righteous God, he begins to lament, saying, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (v. 5, NIV).


In Old Testament law, this was a huge problem: Isaiah was bringing his uncleanliness into the presence of a righteous God. It technically should have gotten him killed. But in an act of foreshadowing Christ, something miraculous happens: one of the heavenly beings flies to Isaiah with a live coal in his hand, touches his lips, and says, “See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (v. 7, NIV).


For this sinful and unclean woman, Jesus is her coal.Rather than Jesus condemning her, He forgives her. Not only that, but rather than her uncleanliness transferring to Him, His cleanliness transfers to her,making her completely whole and well – completely forgiven.


Jesus then teaches an important lesson: those who have been forgiven much, forgive much. In other words, because this sinful woman, at her worst, risked her life and humbled herself before Him, she experienced a deeper revelation of His love, and that love would reverberate throughout her life. It is when we let go of what we “thought” that we come to know God in the same way, as our Father, our friend, our Savior – and our coal.



  1.    What preconceived notions and beliefs about God, others, or yourself do you need to surrender today?
  2.    How has Jesus been a “coal” in your life?
  3.    What is one truth of God found in Scripture that you can carry with you today that will lead you into a deeper revelation of who God is?


*Devotional contributed by Joseph Tolonen