Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

I’m quite sure every person reading this has experienced awkward moments in their life. I know I have. Some more embarrassing than others, some just downright awkward. I had to giggle when I looked up the definition of “awkward” in the dictionary. It reads, “not graceful or skillful in movement, shape, or conversation; clumsy; not well-suited for a situation; not easily managed, controlled, or used; inconvenient in time or place to the point of embarrassing; lacking necessary timing, grace, or intuition regarding surroundings or appropriate setting.” Perfect definition. 

Jesus experienced potentially awkward moments too — though His immutable style never seemed to allow those to bother Him. One of those times could have been the uninvited attention He received from a prostitute. Jesus had been invited to dinner at the estate of a local Pharisee. A black tie event which might have had valet parking today. The Pharisees were the religious elites of their day, though they didn’t start that way. They had grown to be proud, legalistic, and condescending to the common folk. Always willing to point out their hypocrisy, Christ had many run-ins with their sect. It was this group that led the movement to crucify Him. The dinner date might have been another attempt to disprove the Lord’s credentials, as they obviously did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. 

As they were eating, a woman described as a sinner showed up at the event — unannounced and uninvited. Awkward. The margin of my Bible calls her a prostitute and immoral woman. Try and picture the shock and indignation of this self-righteous Pharisee when a hooker strolled into his home. 

“When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” Luke 7:37-38.

Just imagine. I can see her pacing back and forth outside this rich Pharisee’s home. I choose to believe this poor woman was so desperate to see Jesus that she didn’t care what all these other men would say. She could make it past security. She could scream if necessary. Something happens in a person’s heart when they become desperate. When all other options are gone. When life has thrown so many punches that you can’t take another. Until you hear about this man, Jesus. A way out. Love with power. Acceptance. Awkward? Perhaps. Probably. But it’s a way out. Your way out.

Jesus didn’t react like the host would have. The host may even have known her previously. I’m quite sure he would have been gripped with disgust seeing the tears and snot covering Jesus’s feet. Had it been him he probably would have tried to protect his reputation. Shouting for this whore to be tossed back out where she belonged, off the property and out of his castle. Jesus, however, didn’t seem to mind. He was not embarrassed at this extravagant display of emotion and affection. He welcomed her and was moved with compassion. Remember last week’s text? This type of “moved with compassion” demanded a response, and Jesus did just that. After a few choice words for the well-dressed hypocrite, Jesus ruled him rude and ruled the prostitute forgiven. Her pure, him defiled. What a turn of events at that dinner party. I’m sure the Pharisees were furious, but Jesus didn’t care. The worship and hunger of a penitent woman of the streets was far more fulfilling than a five-course meal with a patronizing Pharisee.

The perfume used by this woman was myrrh, a very aromatic and expensive oil used for important occasions such as a birth or death. I’m sure it remained on Jesus far after He excused Himself from the event. Every time He caught the scent He smelled a changed life, a restored purpose, and a forgiven soul.

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows little love. Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:47-48.

The former harlot left the house betrothed to her Savior, while the Pharisee was left still playing the harlot with the religiosity that bound him. Jesus responds to love, not religion; to hunger, not curiosity. His heart was moved, not by amazing food but rather by the hungry heart of a common sinner. The desperate sow in tears, and reap in joy. 

We can see this desperation for more of Christ everywhere — even within the church walls. The Bible tells us about another woman who poured costly perfume over Jesus. It was the same woman who sat at Jesus’s feet, mesmerized by His words and love, following Him everywhere He went. This Mary earned a reward that the Bible talks about.

“Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken of in memory of her.” Matthew 26:13.

That’s amazing! I don’t know anyone personally mentioned in the Word of God like Mary was. Never underestimate the power of costly worship. There were others in the “congregation” who just “didn’t get it.” They complained of the “absolute waste” from Mary pouring this oil over the Lord, stating “just think of how many people we could have fed.” Again, Jesus was and remains more concerned with those hearts that hunger, and worship, than with those who have merely missed a few meals. 

Church, we need to examine ourselves and make sure we have not grown too familiar with all God has given and done at the expense of God Himself. All the disciples in the room that day, and not one came to Mary’s rescue. They’d been healed, delivered, and yet not one grasped the costly offering and sacrifice of Mary. Don’t allow another day to go by without becoming a fragrance creator for Christ. A true worshipper. Your alabaster box is your heart, and your worship and love are your perfume. Break it open and pour it out, even if it feels awkward. At the scent of your heart’s offering, He will come. And He will cherish yours just as He did these women. May we never allow the opinion of others or concern for our reputations to deter us from offering all we are to Him.

Ruminate on that.