Today’s Reading: Luke 7
Today we land on Luke 7. In the last story of the chapter (verses 36-50), Jesus is in a house with a number of religious people and a prostitute comes in and washes His feet with her hair. This is how pastor and author Chuck Swindoll explains it in a chapter titled “Jesus at His Best:”
While families gather for dinner and close their door for the night, her workday begins. With saffron scarves and lavender veils, dangling earrings and a dab of perfume, she dresses herself for show. . . . [she] survives by her looks . . . and looks she’ll get. A leer. A scowl. A wink. A sneer. All sorts of looks, except one . . . love.
She is a prostitute. How many times has her heart ached to be wanted for more than one night? To be valued instead of evaluated? To be prized instead of priced? Her scarlet letter will never rub clean. This day though, she will meet what she’s hardly dared to hope for. For she will meet love. She will meet kindness. She will meet Jesus.
Into this refined religious party comes a woman, a prostitute, unclean and out of place. She has taken a risk:
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. (Luke 7:36-38)
The thirty years I ministered in Detroit, our church worked with many prostitutes. We saw the hurt and brokenness and longing to be whole again. They all wanted freedom but were afraid. Many were scared to leave the business because of retaliation by their pimp. That is this woman in Luke 7.
While men were looking at her, I too want us to look at her. Let’s look at three parts of her body—for all the right reasons.
1. Her Back
The best seats at this kind of party were at the table and reserved for the host and his friends. This woman did not have a shot at getting near Jesus. While these kind of parties can have bystanders, they must stand with their backs against the wall as observers. This woman was one of them. Her back was on the wall. She must have thought about what happened earlier in her town, that a funeral was interrupted when Jesus resurrected the body. And now she is close to Him. If he raised someone from the dead, he must certainly be able to free her from her life and her choices. She has a decision to make: does she take her back off the wall and give Jesus a chance.
She chooses well—she takes her back off the wall.
2. Her Hair
Today if we want to know if someone is married, we look at their left ring finger. This wasn’t the case in the first century. It was their hair. If a person’s hair was up, they were available. If their hair was let down, they were married, taken. Every prostitute had their hair up but on this day, she found her man and let down her hair so she could wash His feet with it. She became a taken woman.
3. Her Eyes
Or more specifically her tears. How much can a person really cry? Enough to wash Jesus’ feet? They say a good cry is 1 to 2 cc’s. This is not nearly enough to wash Jesus’ feet. But that is not what happened. She did not put her eyes on His feet, she broke open her tear bottle. In Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind, Barbara Bowen said that every person had in their possession a tear bottle and they would actually bottle their tears from painful situations. I saw these bottles when I went to Israel. Think about what this woman did—she held in her hand all those painful moments where she cried and did not know who was able to handle this pain. Who could she get to give her pain and tears to? She found Him. She broken open that bottle and put her pain at His feet.
She had a choice either to try to manage those tears herself or pour it on the feet of Jesus. Why His feet? Hebrews 2:8 tells us that “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” All things go to the feet of Jesus. She took her back off the wall. Let down her hair and broke open that tear bottle. And that day she found forgiveness.
One person said this about tears: “Tears are prayers too. They travel to God when we can’t speak.” This woman found the feet of Jesus. That’s where her tears belonged and that’s where yours and my tears belong. It’s too much for us to manage our own tear bottles, so let’s break them open in the presence of Jesus.