She carries a burden, the burden of a reputation. You know, that kind of reputation. She spends her nights standing in darkened doorways, waiting for men to pass her way, men with jingling coins in their pockets.
This night, she puts on her best garment, wraps her favorite scarf around her neck, and drapes her hair seductively across her shoulders. She layers on the jewelry and dabs some color onto her cheeks. Because this is all she knows to do.
However, she has other plans tonight. She heard a certain man is in town. She’s met many men. Most of them speak to her in luring whispers. And jingle their coins. But this one…this one is curiously different.
This man, she heard, raises the dead back to life, opens the ears of the deaf and the eyes of the blind. Restores the skin of lepers and heals the lame. He knows the secret longings of a broken heart. And, most amazing of all, he forgives sins. Because he says he is the Son of God.
She’s tired, tired of living in sin. With a different man in her bed every night. She’s had enough of the cold stares and whispers of shame from the women. So, she’s going to see this man.
She heard he’ll be dining at the home of one of the Pharisees. So, she sneaks around the back alleys to get there, covering her face with her scarf so no one will notice her.
Arriving at the house of Simon the Pharisee, she stands in the doorway, eying those gathered around the tables. She searches the faces of those reclining. She longs to get close to the one who forgives all things.
While servers hustle back and forth with dishes of food and jugs of wine, she slips her way between them and finds the man named Jesus. She stands behind him, quietly, reverently.
So overwhelmed in his pure presence, she begins to weep. Wiping her eyes with her scarf, she drops to her knees at his feet. The tears of her past are many and stream down her face and onto his feet, washing them with her heartache.
She gently wipes his feet with her hair, no seduction left in it. She kisses his feet, as if to abolish her forbidden kisses, kisses that normally came with a price tag, now freely given away.
He turns to look at her, but not in the way other men do. He sees right through to her soul. She can almost feel his holiness and forgiveness embrace her. It takes her breath away. A love so pure. It rushes through every fiber of her body.
He doesn’t send her away. In her gratefulness, she opens the precious alabaster vessel of perfumed ointment she brought with her. She pours her gift over his feet, as the aroma infuses the air with its sweet fragrance.
One whiff of the scent causes Simon and the others to stop in mid sentence and mouthful. Simon mutters to himself, If this man were really a prophet, he’d know what kind of woman this is.
The others gasp and whisper to each other. Jesus, knowing what is going on, because he is a true prophet, says to Simon, “Simon, tell me your answer. Two men are indebted to a lender, one owing fifty denarii and the other owing five hundred denarii. But neither of them have enough money to pay him back. The lender forgives them both, cancelling their debts. Therefore, which one do you suppose loves the creditor more?”
“I suppose,” Simon ponders, “the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“Correct. Simon, when I entered your home, you gave me no water to wash the dust from my feet; yet, she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not greet me with a holy kiss; yet, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not show me hospitality by anointing my head with oil; yet, she has poured out her best ointment and anointed my feet.
“Therefore, her many sins are forgiven for she loves me much, but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.”
Turning to the woman, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
More tears flow down her cheeks. No more standing in darkened doorways; she can now come out into the daylight. No more looking for love, for she has found the ultimate love of her life, the kind with eternal rewards. No more feeling shame; she has found forgiveness, full and free.
~With tears of repentance, I fall on my knees at the feet of Jesus and pour out my fragrant oil of gratefulness for God’s pure love and forgiveness. How about you?
***Note: this account is only in Luke 7:36-50. While it does not specifically state the woman was a prostitute, it is assumed by inference.
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