Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

“If Jesus were a prophet, he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner” (Luke 7:39).

If she came through the door
and said, Jesus,
would He turn and see
too much in her eyes?

If she knelt to wash His feet,
her tears, her hands, her hair
colliding at His hem,

would the men say, Woman,
you have no business here?

Did she cry at their contempt
or because she knew—
this was the first man she ever knelt before
who didn’t hold his sin against her?

Voices sailed across the room
that night like stones,
because they also knew.

—Toni McNeilly