She is a sinful woman clothed with shame and covered with lust stains. She is uninvited because she is a woman and even more because she is that woman.
And yet here she enters, filled with trembling boldness, her most prized possession in hand.
Head down, she slinks into the home of the Pharisee Simon who is sharing a meal with Jesus. His guests are staring and whispering, and it is all a familiar chorus. She is unclean.
But love draws her.
She comes. As a servant, holding need like a cloak about her shoulders, eyes focused on the Master, cradling her alabaster jar.
And then he speaks, and she comes closer. His voice is a river, a whisper, a great sea, a knife. She feels the sting of being so close and then the trickle of life. Filling dry, trodden places.
And she is afraid.
But the words from his lips are life. She feels them washing over her and washing in her. Touching heart-depths she’s never let a man touch.
And she is afraid.
But she comes still closer to his feet. He is so close. And he knows her.
He knows her.
Now she is crying on his feet, and she cannot stop the tears and shame and rage and the pain of her sin and the sin against her that come spilling out.
She is a sinner, and she loves this man Jesus.
The prized jar at her side suddenly feels too small to speak.
The woman removes her head cover and pulls her hair from the knot at the back of her neck and lets it fall around shoulders. Her heart swells.
This thick seduction crown is new. No more a tool of trade, these strands in her hands are now an instrument of praise. She weeps as she wipes his feet with her long silken hair. I love you Jesus, she cries under tears and through lips that kiss his feet, kiss his feet.
She uncorks the bottle, and the smell of holy ointment fills the room. Eyes turn to look as drops of nard dribble, then flow from the jar to Jesus’ dirt-smeared feet.
Her hair, her tears, her lips, this treasure.
Love and gratitude, body, spirit — they are all for Jesus.
She feels the flow making dead new, old alive, shame holy, sin forgiven.
He looks to this daughter at his feet, eyes cradling her. “Your faith has saved you,” he says. “Go in peace.”
And so she does.
In holy clothes. Skin smelling of peace, hair dripping with oil, eyes alive with hope. For she has seen Jesus.
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Amazing Ashley! What a gift you have given with your beautiful words. I love your work and I am constantly looking forward to your next post. Your faith has always been inspiring and I thank you for sharing it with us in such a gorgeous way.
Thank you for making this story come alive for me. Beautifully retold.
I’m sure Jeff feels the same way, but this comment was actually from your sister. The challenged one. The one who forgets to check the sign in before she comments. My bad. Still your awesome writing. Thank you for sharing….
Dearest Ashley! I’ve read this several times now, with hours in between. With each reading my eyes burn. The way you’ve related this familiar story has left indelible living images in my soul. A new way of seeing what it is to draw near, to worship at the feet of, to Love. And to then rise and walk, hair dripping with perfumed oil and skin smelling of peace! Such beautiful writing – such exquisite seeing! Once again, we’ve been deeply, sweetly blessed!
I’m new here. I found you through a comment you left on another blog. I’ll be back.
THIS is the kind of “seeing” I want to have when I look at Jesus. It’s what I want for the tribe of women in my life too. Beautiful…
Angela, I’m so glad you’ve come. Thank you for your lovely comment.
Even though I have read this story several times, I’ve never fully seen the woman and her ultimate humility, courage, and love, until I read your perspective. I am grateful you have the courage to share your God given gifts, and that you were inspired to write about her.
Thank you so much, Deb. It’s such an incredible story of, as you said, humility, courage and love. I desire that kind of bravery to lay it all at the feet of Jesus. Thank you for your comments!
I had to share with you…in my Tuesday morning women’s bible study group, we are studying this bit of scripture for the next two weeks. In my small group, as we were wrapping up, I asked if I could read something that was written by an amazingly inspiring friend whose beautiful words would shine new light on this passage. Several ladies had tears in their eyes; all commented on how exquisite you wrote and retold this beautiful story. I will read it to the entire group next week…your words are being shared and are touching many!
Katie, I am so thankful you shared that with me! It’s hard to know what happens to these words I put out there — such a faith journey for me. So I am infinitely grateful to know when someone is touched. Thank you for this blessing today. Sending you much love.