One of my favorite stories in scripture is of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and her tears. It’s found in all four gospels, but I’m struck most by Luke’s account of the story (Luke 7:36-50). It is a display of extravagant and costly worship.
Luke tells us that Jesus was having dinner at the home of Simon. The room was filled with men reclining at tables and eating their dinner. Luke tells us that “an immoral woman from the neighborhood” who was known to be a prostitute entered the room. Carrying an alabaster jar of very costly perfume, she entered quietly and then knelt silently at Jesus’s feet. Broken and weeping she began to wash Jesus’s feet with her tears, wiping His feet with long tresses of her hair. She kissed Jesus’s feet and poured out her expensive perfume as an act of worship.
The men in the room criticized. They likely felt embarrassed and uncomfortable with the display of emotion. Perhaps they felt shame – nervous that their sins with her would be exposed. She was from the neighborhood and likely some of them had slept with her. In their nervousness they did what we all often do when we feel uncomfortable – they criticized. Simon, the host, thought to himself, “If Jesus knew how sinful this woman was, He would dismiss her. She’s letting down her hair! How immoral! She’s wasting that expensive perfume! She should be feeding the poor with the money from that perfume.”
Jesus wasn’t pleased with Simon’s thoughts and, I might add, He’s not pleased with our thoughts when we size up and criticize another’s worship! He tells Simon a story about two men who were deeply in debt. One owed one hundred thousand dollars and one owed ten thousand dollars. Both were forgiven. Then Jesus looked Simon in the eye and nails him with this powerful question: “Which of the two debtors would be more thankful?” Ah, such a penetrating question!
There are so many lessons I could draw from this story, but I want to focus on the woman and use her as an example for you and me. My theory is that we forget all that Christ has done for us and so we offer cheap worship that costs us nothing. We stand back on Sunday morning and perhaps evaluate – “The drums were too loud. The singers didn’t do anything for me. I can’t wait till we get to the preaching.” Here’s the thing: Our worship is to be centered on Jesus. If you’re not engaged, if you’re critical, if you’re standing back evaluating the worship of others… Jesus isn’t pleased. What’s the answer to keeping our worship vibrant and costly? Remembering!
Remember how Christ has forgiven you. Sometimes, we look back and thank the Lord for what He has forgiven years ago. But what about this past week? Gossip, greed or grumbling… has He forgiven you for that? Has He forgiven you for the times when you judged others and were filled with a sense of pride, convincing yourself that you weren’t as bad as them? Has He forgiven you for your lack of faith or for giving fear more space in your thoughts than faith?
I know for me Jesus has to forgive me over and over again. He forgives me when I feel I deserve better, when I judge others, or when a lack of faith catapults me into the pit of plotting and planning in case God doesn’t come through. He forgives me when I’m indifferent to the pain of others or when it’s simply too inconvenient to share the gospel. Oh Friend, I praise and thank Jesus for forgiving me.
Remember how He has healed you. Many Bible scholars feel the woman weeping at Jesus’s feet had been healed of seven demons. Think back this Thanksgiving and remember: how has Jesus healed you? Perhaps He’s healed you of the demon of alcoholism, or addiction to spending. Perhaps He’s healed you of the demon of nightmares and fear of financial collapse. Perhaps He’s healed you and set you free from a toxic relationship that kept you bound. Look back and remember how He’s healed you.
Remember the miracles He’s worked on your behalf. Make a list of all the ways God has fulfilled promises in your life this past year. Make a list of the times He miraculously came through for you. Remember the answers to prayer, the joy of dreams fulfilled, and the pleasure of knowing His presence. Then, give thanks. Worship extravagantly, face down at His feet, pouring out your heart in praise. He is worth your costly praise!
Where is Becky?
I am celebrating Thanksgiving with our family!
How you can pray:
I have a book due December 15th. I’m very close to being finished but I would covet your prayers as I approach the home stretch. I’m asking God for His wisdom on what exactly the readers need. Thank you for your prayers!
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! May you know His presence and power in your life!