She was a sinful woman, a prostitute, living a life dedicated to giving pleasure to sinful men. Ashamed, empty, desperately lonely, rejected by all except when they wanted something from her...unloved except for those few fleeting moments of physical passion as she offered herself in exchange for a living.
Used by men, she in turn used them to serve her own needs and purposes. It was an awful way to live and she knew it.
She'd heard about Jesus, this man who claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah. She'd heard about his kindness and compassion, how he mercifully healed the weak, the sick, the lame, the blind. She knew that she was in need of healing just as much as those poor creatures, she who was beautiful on the outside, but crippled within. She'd heard that he preached forgiveness of sins and she longed to see him, to hear his voice, to receive healing for her own damaged, sinful heart.
One day she heard that Jesus was at Simon's house and her heart dared to leap for joy. He was so near. She frantically searched her house for something she could give and found a jar of expensive perfume. Fully expecting to be rejected, she went to Simon's house anyway, compelled to be in Jesus' presence.
She didn't know if she could even come near to Jesus, but she had to try. There were many people in Simon's house, she was not the only one who desired to be with him. She slowly crept forward, suddenly timid and shy. Her reputation as a prostitute, however, kept those around her from touching her, letting her edge ever nearer to Jesus. She found herself right behind him as he reclined at the table sharing the meal Simon had provided.
As she heard his voice, she became overcome with emotion. She began to weep, filled with awe at his utter perfection and deep, deep sorrow over her sin. Her tears coursed down her cheeks and began to fall on Jesus' feet. Having no towel, she began wiping the wetness from his feet with her hair, kissing them with tender care. She gave no thought to what those around her were thinking, she only gave herself to Jesus in the only way she knew how, through intimate contact with Him. Her only thought was towards Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, the Holy One, the One who could fill her empty, shallow life with love and life and forgiveness.
She took the alabaster bottle and splashed the perfume liberally over Jesus' feet and once again lovingly wiped them with her hair. She gave no thought to the expense of the perfume, it was as nothing compared to the priceless opportunity she had to serve Jesus in this way.
Then Jesus spoke. His words rebuked Simon the Pharisee for not having washed His feet or treated Him with the respect He was due. And then his words forgave her sins, out loud, in front of everyone. Then he turned to her and repeated, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
She turned to go and stumbled out of Simon's house, stunned by what had just happened. She had expected to be thrown out of Simon's house and knew that would have been what she deserved. But not only had Jesus accepted her into his presence and accepted her offering, he had forgiven her sins as well. There was a fullness inside in place of emptiness, love instead of hate, peace instead of pain, joy instead of sadness, healing instead of hurt...hope instead of despair. And Jesus was right, her heart overflowed with love because she had been forgiven much.
And today I see that I am that woman. Not a prostitute in the literal sense of the word, but haven't I prostituted myself to sin and the desires of my flesh? Haven't I offered my body for ungodly pleasures, trying to find fulfillment in food or fleeting happiness, worshipping myself and my desires instead of God, living to please others instead of Jesus and all the time spiraling down into a life of shame, self-contempt, depression and loneliness, desperate to hide my sin and shame, feeling unloved, rejected and alone?
There came a point when Jesus came near and he was the only way out. Jesus welcomed me into his presence, let me come near and he let my tears wash over his feet, even though I was anything but worthy. He let me pour myself out, a costly perfume that he paid for with his own life and he let me fall, completely spent, at his feet because he knew that's where I needed to be.
And then he said to me, just like the woman that was healed by merely touching His robe, that my faith has saved me, that my sins are forgiven and that I am released to go with his peace in my heart. Therefore, since I have been justified through faith, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ, through whom I have gained access by faith into this grace in which I now stand. Romans 5:1-2 (personalized).
Is it any wonder that my heart overflows with gratitude and joy that words can hardly express? Is it any wonder that my life has changed completely? Is it any wonder that his love for me overflows to everyone around me? I can do nothing less than live and love for him because I know, I know, how much I have been forgiven.
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 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.
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.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people 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 forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
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. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
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.”