She walked slowly into the room, knowing she wasn’t invited, knowing she didn’t belong, knowing she was probably about to be cast out–yet her desire to show her love to Jesus spurred her on.
She had heard Him preach and realized the depth of her sin. After all, a woman such as herself–who had given her body to so many men out of desperation–could not possibly expect to find love and acceptance from God. Yet His message told her just that–she was loved!
That knowledge had so filled her with joy and peace as she surrendered her heart to Him, that she couldn’t hold back any longer. She had to show her love in return, the only way she knew how. And all she had to give was an alabaster jar of perfume. And her devotion.
But the religious leaders would have nothing to do with her kind. To them, she was just a dirty, low-down woman. What would they do? What would they think? And how would Jesus respond?
She believed He was truly God–no one else could speak with such authority and love at the same time. No one else could convict her of sin by His words, yet comfort her with the offer of love and forgiveness.
And so, she risked the rebuke, the rejection, and the embarrassment for the chance to show her love in return.
Biblical Women Just Like Us
As we continue in our series Biblical Women Just Like Us, I am always so amazed at the way Jesus responded to women. The outcasts of society, they were often considered on the level of criminals in Roman and Jewish culture at that time. Yet, Jesus treated women on equal footing with men, created in His image, worthy of love and respect.
“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who have lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”Luke 7:36-38, NIV 84
Now to us, washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, and pouring perfume on them sounds a little strange. Apparently, the Pharisee disapproved as well.
“When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.'”Luke 7:39
She Loved Much
Her acts of devotion and gratitude to Jesus were overlooked by the Pharisee. Instead, he saw only what she represented to him–a sinner and everything unclean. What the religious leader had failed to understand is that we are all sinners, including him.
“Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’
‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said.
‘Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’
Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.’
‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.”Luke 7:40-43
I love how patient Jesus was with the Pharisee. He was teaching him a lesson about sin, love, and forgiveness. And also about the worth of every person.
“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.'”Luke 7:44-47
You see, her actions were not lewd at all, as the Pharisee might have judged. Instead, she was showing the hospitality that Simon should have shown Jesus as a guest in his house.
Jesus looked at her and saw someone who loved much because she had been forgiven much. It didn’t matter if she was woman, man, or child; it didn’t matter if she was rich or poor; it didn’t matter if she was black or white; it didn’t matter if she was a princess or a prostitute–she was loved by God and forgiven of her sins.
She Had Been Forgiven Much
“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’
Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'”Luke 7:48-50
Only God has the ability to see a person’s heart. And He sees each of us as sinners in need of His saving grace. None of us are beyond His reach. Nothing we have done is too bad. We are all undeserving of His love and mercy. All of us.
Yet He values us all just the same.
Jesus’ gentle rebuke of the Pharisee in front of the “sinful” woman is a reminder to us all that Jesus showed approval to women in a culture that denied them respect and value.
Maybe you have been disrespected and undervalued because you are a woman. Remember that God created us all in His image and loves us equally. His forgiveness and grace are offered to all.
May Jesus’ Words bring you comfort and peace today as you look to Him alone for your worth.