The Fragrance of Forgiveness
The minute hand ticks slowly and repetitively in a quiet, dark house. However, her thoughts are anything but peaceful and reflective.
Grief and secrecy threaten to overtake her early morning wonderings as she is blatantly aware of the anxious knot within her.
Shame has a way of stealing our peace and joy. It can destroy families and dreams, leaving us hopeless for a better tomorrow. Jesus knew just how destructive shame could be, which is why He climbed the hill to Calvary.
There is a woman who felt the pain of shame – a woman who desperately sought mercy. And while society rejected her because of her past mistakes, Jesus would redeem her, and the whole world would know the depth of her faith in the One who brings restoration.
Let’s take a closer look at the sinful daughter in Luke 7:36-49 and how she was forever changed by the unconditional love of Jesus.
Extravagant Surrender (Luke 7:36-38)
Love has an incredible way of empowering us to do things that, without it, we wouldn’t dare attempt.
It is enduring an afternoon activity we do not delight in, but we do it anyway because the activity brings much joy to the person we love.
It is choosing to compromise because the person in front of us is more important than being right.
It is complete surrender regardless of the cost.
The sinful woman, moved by the spirit of Jesus, did just that.
Not only did she enter a Pharisee’s home uninvited, but she poured out her tears on the feet of Jesus.
Why were the actions of this woman so unthinkable? In first-century Jewish culture, men did not associate with women outside their homes, and Pharisees were considered prominent religious men who only engaged with male leaders of such stature.
Yet, we have a Rabbi greater than these religious leaders who would reconcile a culture back to the heart of the Father.
Here we see a woman kneeling at the table. The tears she shed in worship were a beautiful example of complete broken surrender—tears of remorse, need, and release.
And just like Jesus would soon illustrate what true extravagant surrender would look like on the cross, this woman took up the cross of her reputation and past choices and was redeemed in love by the One before her.
Fragrant Hospitality (Luke 7:44-46)
In the first century, when you were invited into a home, it was customary for the host to wash the feet of their guests, embrace them in greeting, and anoint the top of their heads with oil.
Simon, the Pharisee who invited Jesus to his home, did not offer this customary welcome, yet the unwelcome, sinful woman welcomed Jesus in abundance.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus, she shed tears of love onto His unclean feet, wiping them with her hair, which was an act reserved only for husbands. Not only did the sinful woman clean Jesus’ feet with her tears, but she also kissed them out of her overwhelming devotion to the Messiah.
What a beautiful example of how incredible love moved her to worship Jesus in this way!
And what is even more remarkable, this woman brought an alabaster jar of perfume to anoint Jesus. What a glorious reception – the sheer act of welcoming Jesus with such a fragrant anointing of adoration. As we consider this kind of offering, we know that an alabaster jar is an ultimate act of love as it is worth about one full year’s wage. So not only did she wash Jesus’s feet with her tears and hair, but she anointed the feet of Jesus with all that she had to give, down to the last drop.
And soon, Jesus would repay her by sacrificing His own blood, down to the last drop.
Unconditional Forgiveness (Luke 7:48)
What a beautiful exchange when we also come to Jesus with our whole hearts, and as we surrender our deepest pain and unbearable shame, He trades them for His overwhelming forgiveness and love. The fragrance of forgiveness is the most beautiful aroma.
Luke 7:47, HCSB, says, “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”
In a room filled with religious scholars and leaders, those who are recognized experts in the law and Word of God, Jesus forgave this woman.
And soon, the world would know this forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father through Jesus’ ultimate act of love.
So, take heart, daughter. No matter what your past highlights illuminate, we have a Savior whose light is much greater.
There is no room for shame in this space because Jesus exchanged it for purpose and worth. And His extravagant suffering and sacrifice are the only anointing we will ever need.
And in our most vulnerable moments of surrender, as we listen for His voice, we will hear the words of Christ found in Luke 7:50 HCSB, “And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
My sister-in-Christ, I pray these words comfort you. And should you find yourself in a place of simple surrender, I encourage you to be still before Jesus and seek Him with all your heart and He will bring you the peace and salvation you desire as a woman of God.