alabaster

There’s a story told in the gospel of Luke about a woman with a “sinful past” who came to Jesus while he was eating dinner at a Pharisee’s house. She brought with her an alabaster jar of perfume. She began to weep, kneeling, and wet Jesus’ feet with her tears. After drying them with her hair, she broke open the bottle of perfume and poured it out onto his feet.

The religious guys around the table were astonished at this display and thought for sure, if Jesus knew about this woman’s past, He would be as disgusted as they were.

But no.

He knew. He knows.

He told her, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

It doesn’t say in the passage, but I imagine it went something like this… A room-full of Really Good Men. They really do think they know what’s best and how to be good. Follow the rules. Check the boxes. Nothing wrong with that.

But in walks a woman, into this room of Really Good Men (Ballsy, no? Back in the day, women and dogs were pretty much on equal footing), and all she wants is to connect with Jesus. She wants to give him the most valuable thing she has. She knows who he is. She knows of his capacity to forgive, to restore, to love. Tears of relief fall, of gratitude, overwhelming tears of “I can’t believe you know me and still love me.”

And then she breaks open this alabaster jar. A tremendously valuable thing and once opened, is broken forever. She pours out precious perfume onto his feet, as if to say, “This is everything. This is all of me. Take it. Please. It’s yours.”

I imagine the room has gone silent. Some of the religious guys are shocked. Some are waiting indignantly for Jesus to respond as they would. Some are just hoping she’d hurry up and leave, cuz this is awwk-ward.

Here’s what I think: I think Jesus smiles when he sees this woman. I think maybe he gives her a look that says, “I’m so glad you’re here. It’s ok. Come close.”

And then perhaps, he lifts her to her feet, holds her face in his big Jesus hands and says, “Your sins are forgiven.” I want to think he even whispers in her ear, “Don’t worry about these dudes. I got this. Go in peace.”

Jesus doesn’t say, “Now, why exactly did you do the things you did? How did you get to this place?” No questions about her past. He already knows and it’s a non-issue. He offers her peace. Healing. Restoration. Grace. Dignity. Love.

This woman. This brave, brave woman. She has no fear. She’s so desperate, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. Yes, she’s lived a hard life, been around the block, all that. But what I love is that she comes to Jesus, in a room rife with judgement, with everything she has. Vulnerable, humble, broken, like that alabaster jar, she pours out the depths of her soul. She says, “This is it. This is all I got. And it’s all yours.”

We don’t know her name, but she made history. She’s a hot mess, but she’s in the freakin Bible.

I want to be like her. I want to courageously come to Jesus and say, “Here. Here’s everything. Will you please take it? Take me?” Complete surrender. And my hope, my prayer, is that he will smile and hold my face in his Jesus hands and say, “I’m so glad you’re here. Come close. Your sins are forgiven.”

And then he’ll say, “Go in peace. Peace to forgive yourself and forgive others. As I have forgiven you.”

I’m learning to walk in that peace and forgiveness, understanding my worth, even in my brokenness. It’s then, at my most vulnerable, when I most powerfully sense God’s gifts to me: his scandalous grace and outrageous love.

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