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.
Luke 7:37-38 (CSB)
Does any other physical sign show brokenness like weeping? The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume in Luke 7 shows how beautiful our brokenness can be. She knew she was a sinner, and so did everyone else in the room. She was known for her sins all over town, making her a social outcast. But her brokenness didn’t keep her from Jesus. She knew she would not be cast out with Him. She knew He was the One who would save her.
Desperate to show her gratitude, she brought an incredibly expensive bottle of perfume and anointed her Lord. The aroma no doubt filled the noses of everyone in the room while her weeping filled their ears. Her actions in this moment would have seemed improper to everyone watching, but she clearly did not mind. Unlike those around her, she understood the debt Jesus forgave, and this made her courageous in front of those who would usually make her hang her head in shame. She was no longer overcome with brokenness but with gratitude. Her brokenness became beautiful when she encountered her Lord.
The Pharisee who was hosting Jesus for dinner that night did not see this brokenness and courage as a beautiful thing, however. He didn’t immediately understand Jesus’ response to this woman. Doesn’t Jesus know what a sinner she is?, he wondered. How dare she carry on that way? How dare He let her do so? Given her reputation around town, doesn’t He know what this looks like?
Jesus answered with a parable of two forgiven debtors, one who owed much more than the other. His story made sense of why the woman was so emotional, and also why Jesus accepted her grand display of gratitude as a beautiful gift instead of a waste of money or an improper gesture.
Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she, with her tears, has washed my feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with olive oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. Therefore 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 7:44-48 (CSB)
The woman knew her sins well; she knew just how much mercy she’d been given. And she wanted to lavish that same amount of love back onto the One who’d freed her. But the Pharisee, unsure of Jesus’ power and perhaps unwilling to admit the depth of his own sins, hadn’t experienced that same grace and therefore could not comprehend offering adoration with such abandon. Jesus’ take on things pinpointed the problem: the Pharisee couldn’t express an overwhelming level of love because he had not experienced that level of forgiveness.
In our so-called polite society, emotional displays are often sneered at, judged as messy and unnecessary, or even offensive. That wide brush paints all sorts of behaviors as “too much,” whether it comes in the form of hands raised too high during worship, off-key voices singing too loudly, a flood of tears pouring out during a sermon, or exclamations of “praise Jesus” in average conversations.
But why? Why do we value the reserved responses to Jesus and ridicule the expressive ones? Is it only that the noisy, wet sounds of weeping offend our sense of modesty and propriety, or could it also be that it forces us to confront our own mess? That it brings us face to face with our own shame, our own hidden sin, removing our ability to pretend as if we’re doing just fine by ourselves? Does encountering someone who radiates joy and praise make us uncomfortable because we secretly wish that were true of us? Does witnessing an overtly enthusiastic exchange of shame and guilt for mercy and grace make it clear that we are missing something? That perhaps we’ve gotten it all wrong?
When the Pharisee invited Jesus to his home, he probably expected to impress the teacher with a delicious dinner, beautiful presentation, or prominent dinner companions. He stood tall and proud, adopting the posture of judge and jury when the sinful woman dared to enter his home, kneel behind Jesus, and offer all she had. Instead, Jesus turned toward this woman, prostrate with her messy display of unfettered emotion and raised her up as an example. He accepted her offering and assured her of His mercy and forgiveness.
Can you recall the last time you wept? Do you remember the circumstances that brought you to your knees either literally or figuratively? Did you feel relief as you let go of any pretense that you were okay, as you confessed with your tears that you needed comfort or forgiveness?
No matter what you are holding onto or hiding deep within your heart today, you are invited to bring it to Jesus. Our Savior will take it from you and turn everything hard and bitter and ugly into something lovely and beautiful and pleasing.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
We are all sinners saved by grace. There are times in our lives as Followers of God we mess up. By saying and doing things we shouldn’t. Like if someone annoys us or makes us cross. Even if not our fault. We can react in away that makes us sin. Then afterwards when we stop and think about our words. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that as follower of God. Maybe I shouldn’t have reacted in that way. Even though the person was in the wrong. I should Pray and ask God to forgive me for my words. If I said anything through my words to that person who was in the wrong. Even though they annoyed me by what they done. We as followers of God have to be very careful with our words. Even if in the right. Say to ourselves God would not want me to be nasty with my words especially if annoyed. To the person in the wrong. God would want me to show them I am different. I forgive them if it something they have done to me or said about me to someone that is not true. Just go to the person and say I forgive you for everything you done and said about me that is not true. Then pray for them and leave them at the foot of the Cross. Or you know someone that is like the women who in today’s reading that washed Jesus feet. Because she had sinned. Wanted forgiveness. You be big and brave and tell them you forgive them and you are Praying for them. Plus that God also forgives them. Like the women in today’s reading Jesus forgive. As I told someone who had done wrong and it was something big. It hurt alot of people at the time. I said to the person. I forgive you. It in the past. If I didn’t I might not be able to speak to you today. It would still eat me up. God help me with an Atc of Courage to forgive them. Now I am praying for their Salvation. God I know was pleased for me for doing that. Like Jesus did with women that washed his feet. He forgive her and her sins. I know when this person gets saved. Their sins will be wiped away too like the women who washed Jesus feet and had her sins forgiven. Love today’s reading. Love all incourage reading. Praying for you all. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Kellie Johnson says
“But the Pharisee, unsure of Jesus’ power and perhaps unwilling to admit the depth of his own sins, hadn’t experienced that same grace and therefore could not comprehend offering adoration with such abandon.” I love this. Until someone has experienced God’s grace, they can’t comprehend it. As lovers of Jesus, we’ve got to keep this in mind. Ignorance isn’t a sin if you haven’t encountered the grace offered. This is a great reminder to me that by extending grace to others, I could be opening a window for someone to see who Jesus is.
Glenda Norville says
I love this story of the woman’s unabashed emotion in Jesus’ presence. I inherited from my sweet sweet Dad a tendency to cry when I pray. He was always “embarrassed” when he was the “Deacon of the Day” at church because that meant he would have to pray in the service, and he knew he would cry. But I realized that it was just a sign of my Dad’s thankfulness to Jesus for saving him, and how this just swept over him every time he would pray. And this story just reminds me of him and gives me comfort that when my tears flow as I pray, my heart is not embarrassed about anything. Just thankful for all my sweet Jesus has done, and incredulous at how lavish his love is for me.
Stephanie Henderson says
I purchased the (In)Couraged Bible and started my first reading tonight. I decided to start with the first reading study guide….Brokenness. And then I joined the FB group to find today’s posting about the very same reading from my Bible this evening.
Sometimes….ok…a majority of the last few weeks, even months, I’ve felt lost and broken. And I began my journey tonight to healing.
Beth Williams says
I’ve often quoted the scripture: He who has been forgiven much loves much. He who has been forgiven little loves little. We’ve all been forgiven of ALL of our sins & get to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus. My little church has a communion meditation & takes communion weekly. I love this because it forces me to remember all the agony & pain Jesus went through just for me. There have been weeks when I sit quietly ruminating that & begin to cry. Asking God why He would do that for little me? I realize just how much I owe Jesus & how much He truly loves me. When I hear certain songs I will raise my hands palms outstretched in authentic praise to almighty God. I want to give Jesus the praises due Him.