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The Alabaster Box

03 Aug

“A sinful woman anoints Jesus’ feet” Luke 7:36-50

Luke had quite a knack for ticking the Pharisees off whenever he compared them with sinners – the sinners always came out ahead. Here we have Simon a well-known and respected religious leader who had invited Jesus to his home for dinner. It is obvious that his intentions were not genuine, as he did not offer Jesus the common courtesies that were readily available to his other guests. It was not by accident that he neglected to: 1. wash Jesus’ feet (because people wore sandals, their feet got very dirty); 2. anoint his head with oil; 3. offer him the kiss of greeting (this was a normal way of greeting one another).

So what were Simon’s true motives for inviting Jesus to his home and disgracefully disrespecting Him so? Maybe he felt that he was too good for Jesus. Was he trying to put him down in front of his elitist friends and make himself look good to them? Was he lording it over Jesus that he, Simon, was a “Godly” person who never mingled with “sinners?” Hmmm. Whatever the case, the contrast could not be more clear.

We still see this kind of hypocrisy in our churches today. I have witnessed much too much damage by those who believe they were so good all of their lives that they had little to ask forgiveness for, and therefore consider themselves better than others. Although they may have realized that “being good” will not get them to Heaven, and asked Jesus to be their Savior, they do not show evidence of having asked Him to be their Lord. They put on a good show, just as the religious leaders of Jesus’ time did, by involving themselves in different ministries just so they can say, “Look at me and how important and Godly I am.” But in God’s good time, their true hearts and motives are revealed.

I have noticed a much more forgiving and Christ-like spirit in those whom God has brought out of the battle-torn trenches of a sin-ridden-life. They are those who are appreciative of having been forgiven at all.

“He who is forgiven of much, LOVES much. He who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Enter: “a certain woman in the city, which was a sinner” (she was probably a prostitute) “when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,” (fragrant oil) “and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (It was customary for them to recline while they ate. They laid on couches with their heads near the table, propping themselves up on one elbow and stretching their feet out behind them. This woman could easily anoint Jesus’ feet without intruding near the table.)

Notice first that she sought Jesus. I believe that God set a divine appointment for her with Him that day to receive salvation. The Spirit convicted her of her sin and drove her to the feet of Jesus for redemption at all costs.

It was a very brave act that she, a sinner and a woman, entered a Pharisee’s house uninvited. To be so bold says that she must have felt an extraordinary sense of gratitude that God would forgive such a one as she, along with overwhelming feelings of unworthiness. There was obviously deep remorse for her sin, as she wept tears of thankfulness bathing Jesus’ feet and drying them with her hair. I imagine that she laid every sin that she had ever committed at Jesus feet as she cried from within for forgiveness, understanding that she did not deserve it, but grateful to receive it.

“Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” I get a mental vision of Simon’s face contorting as he recoiled at the sight of the woman touching Jesus. Not long ago, it shocked me to have heard similar words from one who claims to be a child of God: “I have to wonder if she is really saved. She always seems to be attracted to the kind of people like that woman who has divorced so many times. Can’t she find more Godly friends?”

And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have something what to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.” (Jesus heard Simon’s thoughts and interrupted them.)

“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

“Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee; Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.” (Jesus honored the woman.)

When we fail to be honest with ourselves and overlook our own sins, we  lose our appreciation for what Christ has done in working forgiveness in our lives. Our pride hardens our hearts, and we begin to experience a lack of Christian love for others as we hold ourselves in too high esteem. Over time, our ears and our hearts grow deaf to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and we are in need of His reminding that “Pride cometh before a fall.”

Luke 7:36-50 “36. And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
37.  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38. And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43. Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50. And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Jesus' Encounters with Women

 

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3 responses to “The Alabaster Box

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