You know that one story?
The sinful woman who splashed her life’s savings onto the head of the only One who could take her hand and lift her out of a pit of self-loathing, societal expectation, and broken dreams?
Sunlight filtered through the windows, dust motes dancing on a light breeze, an idyllic setting were it not for the horrified gasps and thundering silence. The intoxicating and familiar sweet, spicy, musky fragrance permeated unbelieving senses as those good people tried to reconcile the scents of worship with her extravagant display. She poured out her only treasure, destroyed the value of a priceless jar where the ebb and flow of cream and caramel swirls now stopped, abruptly jagged, where the seal had been broken.
The scent of spikenard, reminiscent of clouds of incense billowing near the altar in their most Holy Temple warred within their cultural sensitivities and clear codes of righteousness as they sat, stunned, before the image of their Savior being touched by one such as she.
Confusion turns to heated dialogue. Dialogue intensifies to emotional outrage. Outrage solidifies to an anger of the most insidious variety.
Self-righteous anger. In defense of what must be held dear and kept constant. For surely, this holy man whom they followed could see the jeopardy He had put them all into by His quiet acceptance of….
The broken, defiled woman who dared to disturb the comfort and sanctity of their holy convocation.
Why would she dare to step foot inside? Did the women of the household press themselves to the wall, covering shocked faces with head scarves and clean hands, as she passed for fear her uncleanness would taint them? Did the servants whisper? Did she push her way, determined, through the children gathered at His knee until, finally, she could give Him the treasure she had kept safe for all those years?
Was it hope or desperation that drew her? Perhaps it was the kindness of a God made Flesh who caressed the cheek of lepers and who wept over a city that had ceased to recognize Him? Perhaps she watched from the edges of the crowd, while those earnest followers clustered near, until one day He met her gaze and smiled. Perhaps she knew He knew all she had been, all she had done, and He still smiled at her.
Was it simply that she had this one thing to give. One single gift. He was the only One who was worth the price.
Is it possible she knew He was the only one who would receive her only gift…
I am certain she trembled as, standing over Him, knowing she was again the subject of speculation, outrage, and gossip, she dared the unthinkable.
Could He be trusted? Had that smile, those words, those eyes been saying, to her, what she thought they were saying?
Tensions and tempers rose as the voices began to rumble through that room. How could she have known what His reply would be to these righteous men, these moral and good women? What could be said to silence their accusations and disdain?
“She poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. Yes! I tell you that throughout the whole world, wherever this Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told in her memory.”
That was it.
She was no longer an ashtray of discarded hopes. She became an alabaster jar welling up with priceless fragrance.
She had been redeemed.
There is a story here for all of us whether we are the broken woman, the self-righteous disciple,or the narrator of someone else’s pain.
The story is simple. We have a Redeemer who sees our value not in the things we bring but in our courage to seek and find Him. We have a Kind Savior who will welcome us into a room we would rather avoid. We have a Defender when those around us would have other plans for our gift.
And, most importantly, despite what the whispers might say…
You belong to the Man with the kind eyes who doesn’t shy away from sickness, disease, hopelessness, and pain.
Yes, friend, we belong.