October 23 I Saturday
1 Timothy 3
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him…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.” —Luke 7:36-37
Jesus was gaining a reputation in His ministry as He went preaching good news and healing the sick and lame. Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus over for dinner, not because he approved of what Jesus was doing, but more likely to inspect Jesus’s ministry and confront Him with some of his concerns. In fact, during this dinner party, Simon was trying hard to humiliate Jesus publicly.
The hidden intent of the dinner party took a turn when a woman in town, who lived a sinful life, learned that Jesus was eating at Simon’s home. She went there with an alabaster jar of perfume. Luke tells us, “As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears” (Luke 7:38). Even by modern standards, what this woman did would be a huge disruption at a dinner party. In the ancient Near East, for a woman to show up to a meal like this, where there were respected rabbis, teachers and holy men, is one thing, but for a woman who has a bad reputation in the village, characterized by a sinful life, it is simply unheard of.
This woman probably heard Jesus preach publicly and was drawn by the fact that He welcomed sinners—something He had been criticized for. She was drawn to show up at where Jesus was, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She did not have a towel to wipe Jesus’s feet, so instead, she used her hair.
The crown and glory of a woman is her hair. In Jesus’s culture, for a woman to unbind or loosen her hair in the presence of other men was considered licentious, disgraceful and indecent. In fact, the rabbinical teachings permitted a man to divorce his wife and not give her financial support if she let her hair down in public. In other words, this woman was breaking all kinds of cultural sensibilities in her worship at Jesus’s feet.
Not only that, this woman brought an alabaster jar of perfume, worth up to a year’s wages. Then, in an act of extravagant lavishness—maybe even wasteful in the eyes of some of the onlookers—she pours this perfume onto Jesus, displaying her deepest humility and devotion. Whatever shred of dignity or reputation she had left had been poured out in this public display of worship. Humility mixed with gratitude; this woman laid down before Jesus, with her brokenness exposed before everyone. This woman risked everything to come and worship Jesus. Jesus saw this woman and received her worship in the presence of His skeptics and enemies. To what extent will we go to worship Jesus?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for welcoming me. You alone are worthy to be worshipped. Above my own dignity or reputation, I desire to worship You with all that I have. Praise You!
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