Showing respect socially is much different today than in Jesus’ day. We show respect with a handshake and by welcoming people into our homes. However, in Jesus’ culture respect was communicated with foot washing, oil, and kissing.
When someone entered your home, you’d first wash their feet. In a filthy, dusty road environment this was a dignifying act of hospitality. Also, because their face and skin were chapped and wind-whipped from the hot, arid climate, you’d give them scented oil (possibly from an alabaster jar) to wipe on their face or hands.
In the biblical world, kissing in public was always of the non-romantic type and conveyed honor: kisses for greeting, farewells, and showing deep reverence and devotion.
When Jesus enters Simon’s house, Simon doesn’t offer any of these gestures. Instead, honor is bestowed on Jesus by a woman with a sullied reputation. She’s the one who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair, anoints his feet with oil, and kisses his feet in deep reverence and devotion. She, in humility, worshiped and sought after the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. She’s the one who is forgiven and found.
We, too, must approach Jesus with humility, reverence, worship, and honor. However, it’s possible that our pride and self-righteousness can restrain us from falling at the Savior’s feet, just as it did to Simon.
As you welcome God into your day, practice the humble act of falling at the feet of Jesus in worship and reverence.