The Saint, The Sinner, and the Sanctimonious

Luke 7:38  “…and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head…”
She was in town that day and expected it to be just another normal day filled with looks of disdain and judgmental whispers.  “There’s she is!” They would sneer. “She’s so immoral. I don’t believe she has the audacity to even show her face? She’s such an embarrassment to our town”.  She expected this because that was her day to day experience. She was used to being avoided and honestly was glad she was because her guilt kept her so wrapped up that she truly believed she didn’t deserve to be “accepted”.  She thought “after all I’ve done why anyone want to be around me”. 
As she walked around town she noticed something was different this day.  The usual looks she was accustomed to receiving were not being cast in her direction.  She overheard whispers but this time they weren’t about her.  “Jesus is at Simon’s house” they said,  “I heard he healed the lame and raised the dead”.  She stood at a distance, scared to draw attention to herself but she was close enough to hear things like, “He’s a prophet…a teacher…messiah”. 
She had heard about Jesus before and was surprised that he taught his followers not to judge others for their sins but to love them and even to forgive them.  There was something different about this man and she felt something inside her crying out to know more.  She had to meet him but how?  Simon was a Pharisee and she a sinner.  Jesus was having dinner with the people who had spoken so harshly about her for so long.  She knew she wouldn’t be welcome there.  She knew she was “good enough” but something told her that HE was.  She felt in her heart that if she could just get in the door he could offer her some hope. 
She thought to herself “Maybe if I gave him something He would speak to me.  I don’t know why but I just feel like His word’s will bring peace to my heart.  I’ve got to meet this man”  She ran home and grabbed the alabaster box filled with precious ointment she keeps under her bed.  This was the only thing of value she had.  As she ran back into town she remembered the day she was given this precious box.
Her father made the box for her when she was a child and spent a years salary to purchase the ointment locked inside.  She remembers smelling the sweet fragrance when he and her mother gave it to her on that special day.  Her father told her that one day she would meet a man who would love her and he would marry her and she would wear this fragrance for him. The joy of that memory didn’t last long before the guilt set in again and she remember all the times she secretly opened the box to use just a tiny amount for men she thought were “the one” only to find out they weren’t.  She hoped that this man would be different.  She prayed “God if you’re listening to me please let this man be what I believe him to be”.  “Don’t let me be wrong again”
As she drew closer to Simon’s house her heart began to race wildly.  She began to become painfully aware of every heartbeat and breathing became labored.  She felt like something was going to happen but she didn’t know what.  Would this be the best day of her life or the worst? 
It’s then that feelings of fear and dread began to overcome her.  “What will they do when they see me?  Will Simon kick me out?  Will Jesus refuse to let me near Him?  Maybe He’s like all the rest. Maybe He will stone me!” she thought.  This horror caused her to slow her pace for a minute thinking about turning back but something inside said “keep going!”  so she continued on running as fast as she could. 
When she reached the door to Simon’s house she saw Jesus sitting at the table eating.  She ran to him and fell at His feet crying.  She couldn’t speak for the tears that were falling.  Suddenly she realized her tears were falling on His feet and then a feeling of dread came over her.  She thought, “I’m a sinner and this man is a prophet from God.  My tears have touched him and made him unclean.  What if he gets angry with me.  I can’t handle another rejection.  Oh God, what have I done?”.  She quickly looked around for a towel to wipe His feet with but there wasn’t one.  She had to remove her tears from him but how?  She couldn’t use her hands they were dirty too. 
She finally decided to let her hair down.  She leaned over and wiped His feet with her hair to dry them off.  Something about doing that made her feel better.  It was as if she felt connected to Him.  Her heart began to feel a little less empty.
It was at that moment that something came over her, a feeling she had not felt since she sat on her dad’s lap and fell asleep as a little girl before bed time.  She felt safe.  She felt loved.  She felt…accepted.  She couldn’t explain it but it was there and she was grateful. 
In an act of unashamed worship she broke open the alabastar box and poured it on Jesus and continued wiping His feet with her hair.
You could hear a gasp as the people in the room saw what she had done. They began to whisper “Why is this sinner touching Jesus?” “Why is she waisting such expensive ointment that could be used to feed the poor?” but this time she didn’t let the whispers cause her to be ashamed.  She had found a man God sent to her, a man who made her feel loved and adored and she didn’t care what anyone else thought.  She was going to lay it all out for him.  All that mattered in this moment was letting Jesus know that she was grateful for His love!
What an amazing story.  The sinner and the Savior.  The humbled and the exalted.  The problem child and the one who holds the answers to the problem!
Mary’s act of worship was hated in the world’s eyes but adored by the eyes that saw past her faults to the potential in her heart.  Simon was disgusted by this woman.  She was a sinner, an immoral woman who was the opposite of everything he “professed” to be and Jesus was allowing her to touch Him.  I’m sure in Simon’s pharisee mindset holiness was not supposed to be touched by sinful people.  God is supposed to hide behind the veil and sin could not stand in it’s presence.  At that time Simon probably made up his mind about Jesus and couldn’t wait to go back to the temple and tell them all about this.  You see even though Simon and his Pharisee friends proclaimed to be clean in reality they were just as dirty as this immoral woman.  Only their dirt came from a different plot of land.  The land called hypocrisy.
Simon didn’t realize that Jesus was there to take our sins on himself.  The veil that separated us from God was about to be ripped by the power of the Spirit that would free us from our sins!
Simon had the opportunity to honor Jesus but he chose not to.  It was customary in that time for owner of the house to have a servant wash guest’s feet before they entered the house.  Simon didn’t do this, according to Jesus, which would have been considered an insult in that time.  Mary did with her tears.
Now it would be easy to look at Simon and judge him.  After all, he’s a Pharisee but what about the others at the feast?  The disciples were there as well.  None of them offered to get water to wash their Lord’s feet either.  They were too busy enjoying the meal set before them, the blessings of the ministry, to be concerned with something that is reserved for the lowest of servants.  It’s possible to spend our time focusing so much on the “important” things that we forget to worship which ultimately is the important thing.  The disciples were focused on what was being done for them and not on what they could do for God.  I wonder if the disciples remembered this night at the last supper during the Passover feast when Jesus got on his knees and washed their feet.
God desires us to worship him.  He loves nothing more than when a child forgets about the world around them and risks making a fool out of themselves in order to show their love for Him.  Mary did just that.
What do you have in your life that you cherish?  Your reputation? Your career? Your talents?  Do you hide them under your bed to keep them safe pulling them out periodically to stare at them with pride and clean them up.
Is touching Jesus’ heart so important to you that you would be willing to break open the box that you’ve cherished so long and “waste” it by pouring it on Jesus and saying “Here you go Lord, this is all I have to give”.
Peace, Love, and Awakening!
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