Faith Overcomes Shame
Luke 7:36 – 50
“ Now one of the Pharisees was requesting to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
Turning toward 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 has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Three times the story is told. It must be important. What are we to take away for ourselves?
Can you imagine what it took for her to appear at a Pharisees home, uninvited, a known sinner, weeping, washing Jesus feet, wiping them with her hair, kissing His feet, and anointing them with perfume.
My first thought was, she was courageous. No, she was desperate. What word comes to your mind?
Then I saw that she overcame her shame by….faith. Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you.” She believed Jesus was who she needed. She was a repentant sinner. She believed showing her love to him was more important than all the important people there. As Mother Theresa said, “I play to an audience of one.”
Marks 14 adds to this story:
- And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she broke the box, and poured it on his head.
- And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
- And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble you her? She has wrought a good work on me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you will you may do them good: but me you have not always. She has done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
Let’s imagine a bit. She walked away from her place behind Jesus, her hands and hair covered with the expensive oil. There was a fragrance that followed her. I am reminded of Ephesians 5: 2: “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a fragrant aroma.”
I imagine there was a lot of curiosity among the other spectators, because in those days people stood around the edges and watched rich people party.
What did he say to you?
Who is He?
The guests at the table were already asking the most important question of their life: Who is this man?
Jesus was just a few days from His cross. I would guess that He experienced God’s comfort when a repentant sinner came and ministered to Him. “She has done a good deed to Me.” I imagine His heart was grateful for one person who knew who He was. One woman gave her money, her brokenness. She walked through shame and ministered to Him in an unsafe environment to anointed Him for His burial.
Matthew tells us it was the disciples who were rebuking her. Please know our Jesus receives repentant sinners. He commended her for her faith and her gift. Jesus said, remember her.
When we show up in strange places, may others smell the sweet savor of faith: Oh, there is a man or a woman who has been with Jesus, who knows who He is!
Our fragrance will be different than other people. It will be our own sacrifice of faith. He was buried for our transgressions.