Standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
In Luke 7, Jesus was invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee. Verse 37 says, “There was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she [came].”
It may seem rude to you that this woman would crash a dinner party she was not invited to, but you need to understand something of the background. If you were a rich person like Simon the Pharisee, you had your house built around an open courtyard. And if you invited a famous rabbi, such as Jesus, to dinner, everybody in the community would be invited–not to eat the meal but to stand around the perimeter and listen in on the conversation. They were invited to come and get the drippings, if you will, of the wisdom that the rabbi would have to offer. So this woman, when she heard that Jesus was coming to Simon’s house, made her way there.
Luke said this woman was a sinner; later in the passage, we learn that she was a prostitute. I want to point out that this was not Mary Magdalene or Mary the sister of Lazarus. This woman is unnamed, but we know she was a sinner. She came to Simon’s home, and when no one was looking, she broke through the crowd and approached the Lord Jesus. Notice what she did in verses 37-38: “She brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.”
Now, if this perfume was the most expensive perfume in Jesus’s time–and I imagine it was–it would have cost roughly a year’s salary. That perfume probably represented everything the woman had. Her whole net worth was tied up in that vial of perfume. I also think she so treasured that perfume because it gave her a sense of worth. After a particularly degrading night with a customer, perhaps she would take some of that expensive perfume and place a dab on herself in order to feel better about herself. That perfume represented her self-esteem.
But when she saw Jesus, she knelt before Him and poured all her perfume on Jesus’s feet. Why would she do such an extravagant thing? It was an outpouring of her love and devotion to Jesus.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The One about the Pharisee and the Prostitute” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2004.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org