The moment I heard that Jesus was dining with a certain Pharisee at his home, I hastened to Him. My feelings ordered me to halt, Experience on their side; Reason continually pointed out to me the foolishness of my way, but neither could she stop me. I set my jaw and forced myself to move. I forced myself, but do not think, reader, that I was not compelled to go. Paradoxically, I forced myself, while a confident belief forced me. I had seen this Jesus before, and somehow, from that vision of Him, I knew.
My heart flew wildly like a caged bird, paced like a caged, passionate tigress, as I made my way through the city to the Pharisee's home, cradling gingerly my flask of ointment, by far the most valuable thing I had, perhaps more valuable than myself in many eyes, myself who was cheapened so by my sin, but still I wish I had more to give to Him. Mind you, my goal was not to pay Him back for what He had done for me. A beloved one is honored; the more costly the gift, the more value it attributes to the receiver. Oh, how much more He deserved! May He receive His reward. My heart was empty when I first saw Him, all need, with so much I needed to give, so much Justice compelled me to give, so much I could not give, my heart only a black hole of sin. His eyes pierced the pit of my heart with hatred, well-earned. “Go to hell! Away from me!” The idea of His repulsion burned my soul, as did the realization that I merited it. I caused the breach, not Him. Oh, no, not Him. The sin ran so deep in me, as if it were the blood running through my veins, pumping in my heart. But now…I knew. I would be welcome.
It did not take me long to reach the Pharisee’s home. Uninvited, I went in, clutching my flask, weeping. I dared not stand before Him, not because I couldn’t; perhaps it was the very fact that He would let someone like me before Him that caused me to stay behind, at His feet. Awe made me tremble as my tears fell- oh dirty tears!- onto His feet, beautiful feet. I wiped them tenderly with my hair, trembling still that I was so close to Him. I had to go further; He demanded more honor, though He said not a word. I had to kiss Him, His feet, over and over again. Then I poured the alabaster oil all over His feet, rubbing it in, stopping here and there for another kiss, to wipe another tear, the wetness of all three mixing together. “I love you,” I said wordlessly in every tear, every kiss, every stroke of my hand along his oily feet. I had purposed to go beyond customary attributions of worth. I must have tears and hair instead of water and a towel, kisses on His feet, as though He were a King, alabaster ointment instead of common oil.
To himself, Simon, the owner of the house, said, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” I did not look up.
For the first time, Jesus spoke. “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Say it, Teacher.”
Throughout their exchange, I could not look up. I kissed, and kissed, and kissed. “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
“The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”
“You have judged rightly.” Jesus turned to me; I felt His welcoming eyes upon me. “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-”
I know! my heart cried in confident, astonished joy. Many sins, forgiven. Oh, now He did not see the blackness in my veins, but beauty, purity, goodness, righteousness, all His own.
“-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” The one who is forgiven much loves much.
At last I ceased my kisses, an occasional tear still rolling down. He said to me, “Your sins are forgiven.” I looked at Him steadily. His lips confirmed what I had known all along. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.* How you forgive such a nothing as me, Jesus!
Those who were at the table with Simon and Jesus began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”
I suspect Jesus knew their words, and, affirming His power and being dear to me, said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Peace for my tumultuous soul. Peace with God, forgiven all the wrong I’ve done Him. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…**
*Colossians 2:13-14, ESV
**Romans 8:1-4, ESV
Dialogue and story from Luke 7:36-50, ESV