The other day I was listening to one of my favorite songs by Rend Collective. Check it out! —–> Alabaster.
After listening intently to the lyrics, I was led to Luke chapter 7. In the passage of verses 36 to 50, an account is written of a woman’s encounter with Jesus in the midst of Pharisees.
There are three distinct characters in this portion – Jesus, the Pharisee and the woman. While trying to think of some sort of application of these verses to my life, I started to ask myself the question, “Who am I?” Of course I knew of the three characters I am definitely not Jesus. But of the other two, who am I? The Pharisee or the woman?
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 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, 38 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. 39 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.” 40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 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. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 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.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The Pharisee vs. the Woman
Let’s look at the woman first. It’s pretty clear that she is who we would rather be, but that doesn’t mean she is who we actually are.
1. She met Jesus where He was. This woman, a sinner, heard where Jesus was and made it a point to be exactly where He was.
2. She brought her best. I can only assume that bringing an alabaster vial of perfume meant a lot to this woman. Offering it to Jesus must have meant even more. She brought her best knowing that it would be used. She didn’t expect anything back.
3. She had the utmost humility. In verse 38, the woman wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair. We all know that a woman’s hair is an important part of who she is. It gives her confidence. To wipe her hair on the feet of a man, which were probably not very clean, was a statement of humility. There’s not much more she could’ve done to show Jesus that He was greater than anything she was.
4. She longed for intimacy. Not only did she wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair, she kissed His feet. A kiss is a sweet thing. We kiss the people we love. We kiss the people we trust. We kiss the people we feel such a closeness with. That’s what the woman felt too. She so clearly wanted intimacy with Jesus.
5. She was given peace. With all humility and a sincere desire to know Jesus, the woman proved her love. Why wouldn’t Jesus give her peace?
And now to the Pharisee.
1. He was in the midst of Jesus, but still nothing phased him. Unlike the woman, the Pharisee wasn’t “wowed” by Jesus. In fact, he looked at the woman’s state, as a sinner, instead of his own. Nothing good can come from a situation in which we look at others’ lives before examining our own. We have to look in the mirror first and ask the Lord to make us pretty.
2. He had nothing to offer. In verse 46, Jesus points out what the Pharisee didn’t do in comparison to the woman. Instead of coming with his best, or anything at all, the Pharisee sat back and “listened” to Jesus. There are so many times we call on Jesus yet we have nothing to offer Him. There are even more times He speaks to us and we hear Him, but choose not to really hear Him.
3. He saw no difference between him and Jesus. Again just the opposite of how the woman was, the Pharisee showed no humility at all. In verse 44 Jesus speaks of the difference between how the woman was with him and how the Pharisee was. The Pharisee had no thought to Jesus being the Son of God. He seemed to think that He wasn’t lower to Jesus in any way. We do this too. We get confused and start to think that we can compare to our Savior. We start to think that we can save ourselves or that maybe we were the ones who saved ourselves in the first place.
4. He didn’t draw near in the slightest to Jesus. Jesus was clearly not Lord of the Pharisee’s life. The Pharisee found no need in drawing closer to Jesus. He didn’t want intimacy as the woman did. There was no need for a kiss because he didn’t truly trust Jesus.
5. He was in total denial of who Jesus was. Even in the midst of Jesus, the Pharisees there had no clue who they were interacting with. In verse 49, they ask, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” They didn’t have peace; they had confusion.
I’ve been in the Pharisee’s spot more times than I can count. Thinking that things are great and that I have Jesus, when in reality I’m far from an intimate relationship with Him. Thankfully our Lord Jesus gives us these examples of how to draw near to Him. Thankfully He shows us grace. Brothers and sisters, let’s strive to be more like the woman – to have a simple, humble faith, knowing that Jesus is who fills us. Let’s turn away from anything that doesn’t point us to our sweet Jesus and bring Him our best. It should always be just Jesus and me.