In chapter 7 of Luke’s Gospel, beginning at verse 36, Luke records a set of events that took place at the home of Simon the Pharisee, whom Jesus visited and dined with.
And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume (v.37-38).
The woman never said anything to Jesus (or anyone) during her visit to Simon’s home. Clearly, she is deeply appreciative of Him, as a result of some previous contact they’ve had. Near the end of the account Jesus said of her, that her actions showed that “…she loved much…” (v.47).
The Bible describes the woman as “a sinner” (v.37), and that is Simon’s inner opinion about her, too (v.39). It appears that she’d previously been a prostitute, but through an earlier conversation with Jesus, she became one of the few people in the Gospels of whom Jesus said, “Your sins have been forgiven” (v.48). Her actions in Simon’s home were an outcome of this.
Why should this Gospel account be particularly important to husbands? Paul explains:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing… (Eph.5:25-27).
Let’s be perfectly clear: there can only ever be one Saviour of the world-Jesus Christ. But husbands are to follow His example, in treating their wife in the same way that our Lord did this woman. In relation to His church, Christ “gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her…” He concluded it was better to do this, than to leave her in her present state of sin. And in relation to this woman, Jesus’ care for her had changed her life.
A husband’s first responsibility towards his wife therefore, is to put her protection, welfare and care before his own desires. This requires that husbands submit themselves to God’s will. They are to effectively say to God concerning their wife, “Not my will but Your’s be done” (Luke 22:42).
Paul expands on this thought in another passage:
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbour for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself… (Ro.15:1-3).
For a husband to “not please himself,” means that he must treat his wife as though she is more important than himself. His wishes in life are to be secondary to what is right and best for her. If this is what Jesus has done for His bride, shouldn’t we do the same?
Taking a lead from Jesus’ example, a very big part of a husband’s care and love for his wife, is centred around his use of words. Paul, speaking of Christ’s example, refers to “…the washing of water by the word…”
Apart from His death on the cross, Jesus’ ministry was primarily through His use of words. Therefore, in order to minister to their wife, husbands must:
- Become familiar with the Word of God.
- Lovingly teach and instruct their wife in that Word.
Peter encourages us that “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God…” (I Pet.4:11).
After ministering to the Samaritan woman, Jesus was invited by the Samaritans to visit them. He stayed there two days, and
many more believed because of His word, and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Saviour of the world” (Jn.4:41-42).
The Bible tells us that husbands are to “live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker…” (I Pet.3:7). Being weak is not sinful, but it shows that a person is vulnerable, and it is always Christian to strengthen the weak.
The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple (Isa.50:4).
We husbands have to strengthen and encourage our wives, from scripture. That requires our time, our patience and love, just as it did with Jesus, with the woman who visited Him at Simon’s house.
Her life had been turned around, through a conversation. Could your wife’s life be turned around too, through her relationship with you, a servant of Jesus Christ?