Think of the story of Simon, the leper healed by Jesus (Luke 7:36-50). He invited Jesus to a dinner at his house. During the feast, a woman anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. If this scene is the same one recorded in John 12:1-8, that woman was Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. It is possible that this is also the same woman who was taken in adultery in John 8:3-11.
In the account of Luke 7, the woman tried to keep her actions private, but forgot that the fragrance would fill the air. So the act became public. Simon said (to himself): “If Jesus were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman this is that is touching Him. He would know what kind of sinful life she lives” (based on Luke 7:39). Jesus spoke up and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Speak on,” he said (7:40). And Jesus told the story of the two debtors (7:41-43). Simon realized that Jesus knew his innermost thoughts—which meant that Jesus knew what a sinner he had been! Simon held his breath to see if Jesus would expose him before the crowd. Surely, self-righteous Simon deserved to be exposed. Yet Jesus handled it privately. He maintained Simon’s dignity and his reputation with his associates. He did not expose him. At the same time, He graciously accepted Mary’s impulsive act. Think what these stories tell us about our God.