Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: EXTRAVAGANT LOVE
By Maria Catterick
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This is a story of the woman who was a sinner; some say she was a prostitute. She went into a religious mans house, wept over Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair then anointed him with a fragrant perfume. But let us examine this more closely.
v37 ‘she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house.’
She researched how to find Him. What on earth would make her go into a Pharisees house? She knew what sort of reaction she would get and knew that she would be taking a risk. What great courage to step into the house in the first place. She wanted to meet with Him.
v38 ‘and standing behind Him weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears.’
She realised her unworthiness. She didn’t force herself into His presence. She entered humbly in a repentant spirit, weeping. She wanted to honour Him.
v38 ‘she washed his feet’
She understood the need to serve the Lord. Only the lowest servant would wash anyone’s feet. It was the most menial and disgusting task and not one to be relished. She wanted to serve Him.
v38 ‘wiping them with the hair of her head’
A woman’s hair is her glory (1 Cor 11:15) She submitted her own glory. She wanted to glorify Him.
v38 ‘and kissing His feet’
John the Baptist said he wasn’t even worthy to untie Jesus sandals. A kiss was a way of greeting one another and telling them they were welcome. She wanted to welcome His holy presence.
v38 ‘and anointing them with the perfume’
She gave the most precious item she owned to Jesus; a fragrant perfume. It was worth one year’s wages. She was showing Him that no worldly goods would be valued more highly nor sacrificed more willingly. She wanted to anoint Him as Lord.
v39 ‘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.”’
Simon the Pharisee couldn’t understand this act of love. Her love was extreme in its expression. It was so extravagant. He was probably more concerned about tarnishing his own reputation by having such a sinner in his house. He wanted to trick Jesus.
v44 ‘Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”’
Do you see this woman? As if you couldn’t see HER in a Pharisees house! The room would have fallen quiet and everyone would have turned to watch the spectacle. The question sounded ludicrous. The problem was that everyone saw her as a sinner and unworthy, but Jesus saw a woman. Religion had blinded Simon. Jesus wanted to teach Simon how to see.
Simon had failed to follow traditions of respect such as washing His feet, welcoming Him with a kiss or anointing His head with oil yet pronounced himself a religious man . She, who made no religious claim, followed all the customary rules of welcome yet did so more extravagantly than had ever been seen before. He wanted to show Jesus no honour.
Why would she risk everything by going into Simon’s house?
The woman went into the house as she didn’t want to be a sinner any more, she wanted Jesus. She wanted Him more than her reputation, she wanted Him more than her possessions, and she wanted him more than anything. She realised that without His forgiveness, without His love, she was nothing.
Which character are we most like, Simon or the woman, or a combination? Like Simon, are we so religious that we are stuck in the ritual of worship and religion? Are we judgemental about sinners or do we separate ourselves from them and condemn them? Have we lost the ability to see people as Jesus sees them? Or are we like the woman so desperate for His presence that we will find out where He is and seek Him out for ourselves. Are we placing Him above all else in our lives? Are we willing to submit ourselves and serve Him whatever the cost?
v47 ‘“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.”’
How extravagantly do you love Him?
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