Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Woman of Bethany

It was almost Passover celebration time, again, and Jesus was invited to have a meal in a home in Bethany, a city a few miles from Jerusalem. As was the custom, men reclined around a table eating and talking about things that men talk about. Most likely women with their heads covered were quietly moving in and out of the room seeing to the needs of the supper table, when she walked in.

She was branded “immoral” and “sinful.” The fact that her head was uncovered was confirmed her profession. Her long, wavy, dark hair was loose. No matter. Loose is how she was described by others. She couldn’t change that. No one cared to find out how she came by this “bad name” in the community. And, if they did, it was surely in a rumor-filled gossip session around the local marketplace. Lowest of the low. Avert your eyes. Don’t even look at her …this…this whore.

As soon as her presence is known, conversation trails off. Sentences aren’t completed as all in house realize who this woman is. She knows she is not welcomed here and quickly searches the room. Finding Him, their eyes lock and she moves quietly to His side of the table to kneel at His feet. With a whimper barely audible, she leans over and grabs Jesus’ feet kissing them and wetting them with a stream of tears she’s held back for years.

All of the twisted anger and the ugly thoughts of herself and the deep brokenness are being poured out from the bottom of her soul. Eyes blurred she reaches for something to wipe his feet soiled with road dust and animal muck. Usually loosened for the intimacy of the bedroom, she reaches for her loose hair. This act causes murmurs around the table. “If He’s really a prophet, He would know what kind of woman this is touching Him.”

Having everything and nothing to lose, she opens the jar she brought and pours the expensive perfume, first, onto His feet wiped clean and kisses them. Then, she rises and spills the remaining perfume as grateful affection in worship upon His head. The fragrance is filling the room and wafting on the air to the rest of the house. Not one person is clueless as to the source.

Greedy hearts of men are revealed as the expensive offering is dismissed as a waste. If she heard these words intended to describe their disgust with her, she didn’t let on. She continues pouring out, wiping and kissing allowing the emotional wounds serrated by use and abuse to soften and heal with each expression of intimacy. As far as she is concerned, she and Jesus are the only two people in the room.

With the tenderness of the scene subsiding, Jesus finally speaks. He addresses common courtesies, providing a washbasin for visitors’ feet and oil to moisturize their parched faces from the hot sun, neglected to be offered to Him as a guest in this man’s home. Also, He reminds the man of the traditional greeting, a kiss on the cheek, was forgotten. To the others around the table, He rebukes because of their judgmental attitudes.

At last, Jesus turns to the woman of Bethany whose loose tresses hang tousled with drying tears and the scent of her fragrant offering. He accepts her costly adoration and proclaims, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

In His omniscience, Jesus knows what the men were thinking. He knows what she had been, yet, sees her as equal and deserving of the same perfect grace. In His eyes, she is perfect and whole and valuable.


You may have experienced the use and abuse of others. Mistakenly you may view yourself as through their eyes. Instead of a genuine smile, you see a soulless mask you’ve hidden behind for years.

Thoughts like soiled, not good enough, stupid, ugly, fat, skinny, not wanted, scarred, not loved have clouded your eyes that should sparkle with vitality, but reflect emptiness and brokenness.

In the presence of Jesus, we may be acutely aware of our past, our sins, our shortcomings. But, He does not see us this way.

He is close to the broken hearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
He came to seek and save the lost.” Luke 19:10
 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that 
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
…you are made holy, by Jesus’ act just as He did for all people
who call on His name.” 1 Corinthians 1:2
Anyone who belongs to Jesus, has become a new person. The old life is gone. 
Everything is made new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
How beautiful you are, my love.” Song of Solomon 1:15

Jesus loves you and wants you to know it.

"God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son, Jesus, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

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