Love Poured Out
Jesus receives an invitation from one of the religious leaders to have dinner at his home, and He accepts the invitation, as we can read in Luke 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so He went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
You may wonder why this man asks Jesus to come to his home. Is it perhaps because, secretly, he wants to become a follower of Jesus? Let’s read Luke 7:37-38 to see what happens during that dinner When a woman who had lived a sinful lifestyle in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and 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.
(Sinful woman) Do you know what it means to be avoided, or whispered about behind your back? I know what that means for it happened to me since I was known as “that sinful woman”. Therefore, no one wanted to talk to me and certainly not befriend me. Was that a painful situation for me? Yes, it was extremely painful but I did not know what to do about it...until today. For this morning I found out that this Man Jesus had been invited for a meal at the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36). I had heard about this Man Jesus and that He befriended “sinners” like me and I just knew I should go and see Him. However, I did not want to go empty-handed so I brought with me my alabaster jar of perfume, which is really my only possession. When I got to the home of Simon the Pharisee, I realised his guests had already arrived and had begun to eat. I quietly entered and looked for Jesus. When I spotted Him I moved behind Him. By that time I could not help my tears from flowing down unto his feet so I loosened my hair to dry them with. And I then broke the alabaster jar with perfume and poured the perfume over His feet (Luke 7:37-38). I had no words to express myself but I knew I did not need to use words. I knew that Jesus understood that I was pouring this expensive perfume over His feet as a sign of my love for Him.
And Jesus allows her to minister to Him in the way that she desires to. He does not send her away. Perhaps that is because He does not know what kind of woman she is, or does He know..?
The religious leader has that question in his mind as well, as we can read in Luke 7:39 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.”
Outwardly the religious leader is very polite to Jesus, making no comment whatsoever on what the woman is doing. However, inwardly, he is very critical of Jesus and decides that Jesus cannot possibly be a Prophet since He does not seem to know what kind of woman is touching Him.
(Sinful woman) Of course I did not know what anyone else, including Simon the Pharisee were thinking of my action but to, be honest, I was not really interested in what they might be thinking. All I cared about was showing Jesus my love for Him. And then, after I had poured the perfume over Jesus’ feet I heard Him address Simon (Luke 7:40). I stayed in a kneeling position but I could hear every word very clearly. And Jesus told him a story about two people, one who owed a money lender a small amount and another who owed that same money lender a larger amount. However, neither of them could pay back the money so the money lender cancelled the debt of both of them. Jesus then asked Simon a very interesting question. He asked him who did he think loved the money lender more (Luke 7:41-42)? I waited to hear the answer from Simon and it did come, though quite relunctantly, when he told Jesus he supposed the one with the bigger debt loved more (Luke 7:43). Jesus then continued on speaking when He told Simon that I had wet His feet with my tears, kissed them and dried them with my hair and had poured perfume over them as signs of my great love for Him but that Simon had not given Him water for His feet, even though they were very dusty when He entered his home, had not greeted Him with a kiss, nor put oil on head, thereby showing Jesus very little love (Luke 7:44-47). My heart rejoiced when I heard Jesus say these words to Simon, for it meant Jesus had understood what I had been trying to express to Him when I wet His feet with my tears, dried them with my hair and pouted perfume over them. I then heard the words I had been longing to hear from Him for Jesus then turned towards me and spoke these words, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace (Luke 7:48).” I knew that others around the table, who knew me as that “sinful woman” questioned these words, but I did not for I knew that I had been forgiven, the moment He spoke these words to me. And I knew that my life would be different from now on (Luke 7:49-50)!
This story reminds me of another story, where another woman pours perfume over the feet of Jesus. We can find it in John 12. Let’s begin reading John 12:1-2 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.
The dinner mentioned in this story is held at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus and takes place a few days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Martha has been cooking a wonderful meal and she has begun to serve the meal. Let’s read on to see what Mary is doing in John 12:3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
(Mary) It has been a busy day today and, no wonder, for we were expecting 13 guests for dinner tonight; Jesus and His 12 disciples. I know we have had them over for dinner at other times. But this time was very special because this time we had dinner with them to show Jesus our gratitude for giving us Lazarus back. And what better way to show our gratitude than by giving them a delicious meal. However, I am not a great cook and I don’t think I will ever be as good a cook as Martha so I wanted to show Jesus my appreciation in a different way. And then it came to me what I should do, so while we were eating I quietly left the table and went to my bedroom where I fetched my bottle of very special perfume. I then returned to the table and went behind Jesus. I did not say anything but simply opened the bottle and poured the perfume over His feet. I then loosened my hair and dried His feet with my hair. My heart rejoiced because I knew that what I was doing would be understood by Jesus even if no one else did.For a moment everyone around the table will have been in such a shock over what they have seen happening in front of their eyes that they dare not speak. It is too much to take in for they realise that Mary is throwing away her life’s savings. Such extravagance! It is good to show care and love for Jesus. But to give away her life savings might just be a little too much of a good thing. And then to loosen her hair in public! Mary ought to know that a Jewish woman never loosens her hair in public. It is simply not the proper thing to do. One of them then expresses this thinking in words, as we can read in John 12:4-8 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, "Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me."
(Mary) I knew that Jesus would understand my actions even if others did not. And I have prepared Him for His burial. Such an honour that I was allowed to prepare my Lord and my Saviour for his burial.
Like these two women, Jesus welcomes your ministry of love and devotion to Him because you matter to Him as much as these two women did. Of course, you cannot physically pour perfume over the feet of Jesus as these two women did because Jesus is not physically with you. But you can show Him your love and devotion by giving Him your time when you read the Word of God or pray as well as when you share your faith with others. Or when you serve Him in other ways that He has shown you. And you too will sense His love for you and His approval of you just as these two women did.