Monday, March 21, 2016

Pleasing Jesus with A Scandalous Act of Love

The week before the cross was hard for Jesus. 

Jesus knew He was headed toward crucifixion and death, and His heart was heavy, which is a major understatement. 

He prepared the best way He knew how. He ministered all day, then went to Olivet to pray. He agonized every night. All night. 

Have you ever dreaded something so much that it made you physically sick? Kept you awake night and day? Ate at you non-stop? That's how Jesus felt.

In the midst of that horrible week, a woman who understood the depth of her sin and her need for a savior, demonstrated her love for Jesus in a scandalously beautiful way. It must have been balm for His soul.

When Jesus decided to stop in Bethany, the betrayal of Judas had already been committed. The plans for his death were well underway. 

He was in the home of Simon the leper when this uninvited (and unwanted) woman arrived with an alabaster vial of expensive perfume. Jesus was seated on the floor with his feet behind him. She approached from behind, intent on a beautiful act of love and worship. 

The woman wept so much that her tears wet his feet. She used her hair to dry his feet, then anointed them with the costly perfume. 

The lovely fragrance of the perfume filled the room.

People grumbled. 

Judas complained because the perfume could have been sold for money, which he could have stolen. 

Simon complained because she wasn't a "nice" woman, as if Jesus didn't know. 

"If this man were a prophet, He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." Luke 7:39 nasb

Jesus knew everything about the woman and her sin. He also knew about Simon and His sin, about all of us and our sin. 

If I'd been Jesus, I wouldn't have been as kind to Simon. I'd have been exasperated, especially since I was about to die for an arrogant, judgmental man who still didn't get it. 

Not Jesus. He loved Simon, too. 

Jesus told him a story about two debtors. One owed a huge debt. One owed a small debt. The lender forgave both debts. "Who will love him more?" Jesus asked Simon.

"I suppose the one whom he forgave more."

"Do you see this woman, Simon?" Jesus asked him. 

Of course Simon saw her. How could he miss her? In his eyes, she was a scandalous sinner woman making a spectacle of herself.

In Jesus' eyes, she was a forgiven sinner who had been washed clean. She had squandered her love and her life, but all that was past. She humbled herself and gave Jesus the very best she had.

"Her lovely gift will be told everywhere the gospel is shared," Jesus told the people there that night, and it has been. All four gospel writers included it. Preachers have shared her story thousands of times since that night so long ago. 

Most people thought she was scum of the earth, but not Jesus. 

He didn't just see her sin, He saw what she could become when she was freed of her sin. He loved her right out of her old life and into the new life He gave her. 

She spent the rest of her days lavishing her love on Christ.

That's exactly what Jesus did for me. He saw me in my sin and loved me anyway. I hope I never get over it. 

I'd like to be the woman who poured out all she had at the feet of Jesus. I'd like to be the woman whom loved Jesus most.

Of course, I'm not. 

I sin. I fail. I do what I don't want to do, and don't do what I want to do.Despite my many failures, I hope I never lose sight of all Christ did for me, one of the worst of sinners.

Today, let's spend some time remembering our life before Christ, recalling the sin for which He has forgiven us, the freedom for which He set us free. 

We'll be walking the road to the cross this week, but it won't mean as much if we don't understand why we needed Him to do this for us. 

Do you remember the great relief of being forgiven?

Can you recall loving Jesus like this woman did?

Are you overwhelmed with gratitude for His cleansing? His peace? 

I'd love to hear your story, so feel free to share it.

"and they overcame him (the accuser of the brethren) because of the blood of the Lamb 
and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life 
even when faced with death." 
Revelation 12:11 nab

(If you're reading this on the mobile version, scroll down and click on "view web version". At the bottom of that page is a place for comments. You can leave your "word of testimony" there.)

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Want more? I've written about this woman's gift of love several times before. You can read a few of them here: (Click on the links)
The Double PortionWelcoming SinnersApproaching from BehindThe Intimacy of Her HairSee-Through AlabasterTranslucent versus TransparentGo in Peace
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: When the Church Decides There's No Place for Grumbling and Complaining Here
#holyweek #scandalousactoflove #alabastervial #faithlife #linesfromleanna