“Then one of the Pharisees invited (Jesus) to eat with him. (Jesus) entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears. She wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he 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!’ ”(Luke 7:36-39).
The arrogant, hyper-religious Pharisee couldn’t see his own faults and failures but looked judgmentally upon the sinful woman. Jesus saw the repentant, worshipful woman differently. “ ‘I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ ” (Luke 7:47–48).
Three months after the construction project began, in Haggai’s third sermonette (Haggai 2:10-19), God reminded Israel of their sinful past. They, like the sinful woman, had been separated from God by their wretched, sinful lives (Isaiah 59:2). They were like a corpse, dead and defiled (Haggai 2:13, Numbers 19:11-13). No amount of activity on their part would profit them until they had repented of their sin.
In Haggai’s short thirty-eight verses, he calls upon the Israelites five times to “think carefully” (Haggai 1:5, 7; 2:5, 18), to consider their ways, to conduct some introspective self-evaluation. Haggai wanted Israel, like the sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, to recognize the depth of their depravity and the marvelous magnitude of God’s great grace.
“Now from this day on, think carefully: Before one stone was placed on another in the Lord’s temple, what state were you in? When someone came to a grain heap of twenty measures, it only amounted to ten; when one came to the winepress to dip fifty measures from the vat, it only amounted to twenty. I struck you—all the work of your hands—with blight, mildew, and hail, but you didn’t turn to me—this is the Lord’s declaration. From this day on, think carefully ... think carefully” (Haggai 2:15–18).
Haggai admonished them to remember their spiritual condition “before one stone was placed on another in the Lord’s temple” and to recall God’s discipline. Prior to the restoration project, God had lovingly, actively, meted out His discipline. He had “struck” them with “blight, mildew, and hail.” Indeed, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6).
As a result of God’s love and mercy, His children had repented. They had turned away from their apathy and self-indulgence and with God’s help, the temple project was progressing nicely. The sinful woman had worshipped by pouring out her expensive perfume. They worshipped by pouring out their hard work and diligent efforts into rebuilding God’s temple. As Haggai’s third sermonette comes to a close, he declared God’s promised blessings on the coming harvest and on the people’s repentant hearts.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.