Life is fragile.
People are fragile and sometimes life breaks their hearts. Luke tells about a broken woman. His story is concise. No name. No history. Just the bare facts.
Some people have tried to name her by tying her to other stories in scripture similar to hers, however, most commentaries agree this story found in Luke 7:37-50 is unique to the book of Luke.
I wish I knew more about her
I hope you will read her story with fresh eyes later after I’ve shared my view of her story. Here is my view. I don’t know who she was or what color of skin she wore or what color her eyes were. I don’t know how old she was, but knowing people like I know people, I believe her actions are so loud I must share what I see. Not for her benefit, but for mine, for yours, for women, for little girls, and yes even for men. Her story could be my story, or your story.
Untethered from today’s politically correct boundaries, Luke the physicians’ description was also a diagnosis … he said she was a sinner.
And while our culture tries to sterilize the word “sinner” or sugar coat it to make it palatable, this woman knew first hand the ravages of sin; like trying to scoop fire into your lap and pretending it doesn’t burn. She saw the way people looked at her when she crossed the street. She heard the people’s whispers, the laughter and the hateful remarks and the way they refused to look her in the eye.
The condemnation fed her shame.
As did the negative mirror-talk as she combed and pulled her hair away from her face.
The nagging guilt gnawed at her confidence.
Shame flourished and festered in that hotbed.
I need to pause here to address shame.
Shame is an epidemic in America.
Everyone has it. They’ve either dealt with it or buried it.
It started with Adam and Eve in the garden when they sinned. They were ashamed so they hid from God.
Buried shame does the same thing a seed does when it is buried…it grows.
It doesn’t lose it’s toxicity when it is buried
When shame erodes self-worth we often try to prop it up externally.
So we go to extremes to change our looks, spending more than we can afford, buying more than we need.
Perfectionism drives us to overachieve or underachieve. (I can’t be perfect, so why bother!)
It can wear a mask. A loud, boisterous mask that loves to shock and blast people with “This is who I am and you better like me!”
Or it can retreat into isolation.
It steals our creativity and makes us too afraid to share our gifts and talents with anyone. What will they think? What if I fail?
that Jesus was in her town and she wanted to see him. Maybe desperately needed to see Him was more accurate. Strategically, she clutched the bottle of perfume in her hand.
I believe she had rehearsed this moment over and over again in her mind. She had to let Jesus know, just had to let Him know what He meant to her and words would not be enough. She had to do something.
What did women do before the day of plastic grocery bags or big purses?
I would have wrapped that bottle of perfume in paper and kerplunked in the bottom of my purse. But, I believe she clutched her perfume that day. Partially to keep anyone from seeing how bad her hands were shaking.
You see when shame has a real grip on you, you just want to be invisible! But that day, to do what she had to do, she couldn’t be invisible any longer!!! Because in order to see Jesus she would have to go to the house of a Pharisee.
Luke labeled the host, Simon, as well.
Pharisee, but most Pharisees wore the label proudly as a badge of honor! They were separatist. Jesus had lots to say about Pharisees. You probably remember from your Children’s Church days that Phaisees were fair you see and the Sadusees were sad you see. They were legalistic. They pointed out the sins of others, but never seemed to have any sin themselves.
While they believed the Messiah would come, they didn’t believe it could possibly be Jesus. Their self-righteous attitude blinded them so they could not see God’s precious gift.
But this Pharisee was curious, so he invited Jesus to come eat at his house. And as was the custom, they left their shoes at the door and reclined on couches with their feet stretched out to eat their food.
From what I read entering the room uninvited may not have been as strange to them as it is us, but what she did next made everybody, except Jesus, very uncomfortable.
She had to have known that it would make them uncomfortable…but she did it anyway! She stood behind Jesus and began to cry. I don’t think she had planned this part. The sense of gratitude, relief, healing produced a flood of tears.
Have you ever seen anyone cry like that?
One time I prayed for a lady like that and she cried profusely. I had my hands on the side of her face and she cried so hard that the tears ran down my arms and dripped off my elbows.
When this precious woman realized that her tears had dripped on Jesus, she undid her precious hair and wiped her tears off and kissed his feet. Then she took the perfumed oil and poured it on Jesus feet.
Luke’s words adequately describe the event, but they are unable to convey the worship, the love she poured out so extravagantly that day. While there was nothing inappropriate or sexual in what she did, if I had been there I would have looked away. That kind of worship is too personal, too intense to gawk at.
While the host didn’t comment, he thought to himself, well, if this man was really a prophet he would know who and what kind of woman this woman is that is touching him…she is a sinner!
Simon knew exactly who and what this woman was, but he certainly didn’t know who Jesus was.
Yet, the woman knew Jesus like few people knew Him! She knew…and she believed! In spite of what everyone thought and believed, she had to worship! She had to pour out her love on Jesus, the Son of God!
I need to stop her story here because I want to explain what I saw, but I can’t leave this banquet without paying very close attention to Jesus’ words to this precious woman…
Luke 7:50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Let’s look closely, the word that Jesus used for saved is from the word sozo which means save, heal and “MAKE Whole.”
She sinned. She was guilty. Jesus forgave her sins. He’s the only one that can.
Recognizing our guilt is a good thing.
It is an on going process of growing in Christ. We will fail , miss the mark, and be tempted. We will get bad attitudes, but when we do, we must run to Jesus. Guilt and shame are not the same thing. Guilts says you did something bad. Shame says you are bad.
When you ignore the guilt, when you try to cover it or hide it, then shame festers. That mask we hide our guilt behind doesn’t work. That anger and self loathing is distourous! God has a better way! He wants you whole.
When you recognize what you’ve done is wrong, ask for forgiveness. Jesus paid your penalty at the cross. He forgives us when we ask. Repentance is turning from your sin. It recognizes there is a higher truth-His truth.
Exchange your guilt and receive His grace. Leave the guilt. Leave with His grace.
You don’t need to beg or explain to Him why you did what you did or make excuses or blame someone else. None of that works.
When the accuser, the devil screams accusations at us we talk back to Him and say “I have the nature of Jesus, so I am:
- strong in the Lord and the Power of His might.
- an overcomer through Him that loves me.
Jesus told the lady “your faith has saved you; go in peace”.
# 1515 eirḗnē (i-ray-nay) (from eirō, “to join, tie togetherinto a whole“) – properly, wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace (God’s gift of wholeness).
The word that Jesus used for peace is eirḗnē (i-ray-nay). This form is only used 25 times. It is translated peace, but let’s look closer into what it means; join, tie together into a whole; when all essential parts are joined together; wholeness…God’s gift of wholeness.
John 14:27 NLT “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
God gives us the kind of peace that makes us whole, that gives us permission to show up wholeheartedly.
This woman arrived with shame,
but as she fell at Jesus feet and worshipped,
Jesus said your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.
The peace of God
It doesn’t mean your heart hasn’t been broken.
It doesn’t mean you’ve never been done wrong.
And, it doesn’t mean you are perfect, but when you see sin, you repent.
It means what God says about you defines you and not the size of your nose or your hips.
It means that you quaranteen lies and build your life on truth, not cardboard fads.
I believe Mr. Carver is an incredible example of living wholehearted.
I’ve already shared with you how Mr. Carver was able to revolutionize the economy and agriculture of the South. It was the early 1900’s, he was a black man in the deep, deep racially prejudiced South. He was able to convince white plantation owners and farmers to change what they planted.
How did that happen?
He was brilliant. He worked long, hard hours. It took years of showing up. Years and years of relentless work. Patience. Persistence. Prayer. Forgiveness.
In a letter written to encourage one of His former students going through a great struggle he said, “ My friend I love you for what you are and what you hope to be through Jesus Christ. There are times when I am surely tried and am compelled to hide away with Jesus for strength to overcome. God alone knows what I have suffered, in trying to do as best I could the job he has given me in trust to do, most of the time I had to work without the sympathy or support of those with whom I associated. Many are the strange paths God led me into. He is and will lead you likewise. 1 Kremer, 172.
He did the same thing the woman did at Simon’s banquet.
What do I mean?
Satan wanted to label Mr. Carver, the culture around him tried! But because He learned as a child to run to Jesus…to walk with Jesus…none of the insults stuck. When one door slammed in his face, God just opened a different one. He lived whole heartedly, because his heart was whole. He could love and be creative.
“…sometimes it is wise not to look for too much appreciation. The main thing is to be sure you’re right and go ahead regardless of whether people appreciate it or… don’t, because in time they will appreciate it.”
It’s more than adventure
Wholehearted means engaging the whole person, spirit, soul and body.
It means living fully alive and allowing the God kind of life to flow into every part of us; our thinking, our attitudes, our actions.
Wholehearted means loving myself without making myself an idol. (Excess is an enemy)
It means receiving God’s love, so I can give it away.
Wholehearted living embraces peace, faith, forgiveness, mercy, grace, joy, happiness, pain, courage, health, adventure, self-control,
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22 NLT
The Bible calls it walking in the Spirit.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Gal 5: 13 NIV
Mr. Carver lived his life congruent with His God given purpose.
He was dedicated and hard working. He knew who He was; a child of God. Mr. Carver walked with God, talked with God and listened to God. He lived out of that confidence and served out of that confidence. He truly served with the heart of a king and led with the heart of a servant. Mr. Carver stewarded God’s secrets well. He didn’t hoard them, but developed them…shared them.
He loved God and people. Mr. Carver refused to allow circumstances to stop him; his birth, hindrances, what people thought or didn’t think, even his frail health. He was persistent. He wasn’t looking for a shortcut or an easy way. Mr. Carver refused cultural labels, stereo types and confinding boxes. He didn’t refuse them in the normal blustery, defiant way, but just simply lived on a plane so far above the cultural norm that none of them applied to him. So, he didn’t need to defend himself or set anyone straight. He was confident, poised, gifted, resourceful and articulate.
He lived fully alive- experiencing the wonder, the joy, the excitement of listening and walking with God.