She hated her life and every morning woke up to the same realization—she wasn’t going anywhere. Sure she had managed to save up a little money. It wasn’t much but it was there, part of her backup plan. And she had secured some valuable gifts over the years from her “beaus.” She had an expensive bottle of perfume carefully hidden away. She was counting on it to help fund her escape. But she wasn’t able to leave yet, and was still bound by the four walls of her bedroom, each carefully decorated for seduction. The draped curtains and scented sheets intoxicated her clients, but stole her breath, choking her with shame, hatred, and self-loathing.
She walked outside for a respite from the stifling room. The air cooled her face and when she looked up she noticed a group gathering in the distance. Perhaps a new peddler had arrived. She meandered over and kept her head bowed, avoiding eye contact with her neighbors. They knew what she was, and she had learned from experience that it was best to ignore them, even the ones who whispered to her intimately in her bedroom. In the daylight they looked at her with the same scorn as everyone else.
She made her way to the small crowd only to discover it wasn’t for a peddler as she had hoped, but a religious teacher. She was about to leave when the teacher caught her eye. He didn’t turn away from her glance like everyone else, but instead began to speak. He spoke about forgiveness and repentance and a new way of life in God’s kingdom where everyone was welcome…even her.
As the crowd grew she remained. She couldn’t pull herself away from the teacher’s words. Even the contemptuous glares from the others in the community didn’t bother her. The teacher’s words carried a promise of something new, a life free from her past and filled with possibilities and hope. He spoke of a God who loved and showed mercy. She continued to listen until the end, and then walked home, slowly contemplating the teacher’s words and wondering if they were true.
That night she did not put her lamp in the window to signal she was open for visitors. Instead, she closed the door, and the curtains, and prayed. Was it possible that she could be forgiven? For everything she had done?
The next morning she learned of the teacher’s whereabouts. He was invited to dine with a local religious leader named Simon. She wanted to thank the teacher for his words, and for giving her something precious: hope. She grabbed her most valuable possession and went to find him. When she reached Simon’s home she hesitated briefly outside the door. But then she saw the teacher, Jesus, and entered the house weeping. When she reached him, she bent low and began to wash his feet. She opened her precious bottle of perfume and poured it out, bathing his feet, kissing them and drying them with her hair.
She forgot about the others in the room until she heard Jesus speak. He addressed the host, Simon, and she looked up. She could see Simon was not happy with her presence. He of course new what she was. She waited for him to ask her to leave. But instead Jesus told him a story. There were two men, Jesus said, one owed a great sum and one a small one and both debts were forgiven by the lender. Jesus turned to the host. “‘Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled’” (vv. 42-43).
Jesus glanced at the woman. “‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (vv. 44-47).
The woman glanced up in awe. Was it true? “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. …Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (vv. 48, 50).
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" - Colossians 1:13-14.
From the series: Jesus, Friend of Sinners.