The Alabaster Jar

Alabaster Jar“Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much . . .” (Luke 7:47)

She heard that the Rabbi was dining nearby at the home of one of the Pharisees, probably one of many who had sneered at her in the marketplace.  She hesitated for a moment as she reached for the alabaster jar sitting in the carved-out niche in the stone wall and cast a glance around the well-appointed room.  Her wanton life had afforded her many good things, clothes made of rich fabrics, fine jewelry, the best wine and food, and the beautiful, smooth jar that contained the finest perfume money could buy.  The value of that perfume alone would support her for the rest of her life.

But it wasn’t the money that made her hesitate, it was the place she was heading and the people she would face.  It was the hostile stares and abrasive words they would throw at her – a common, sinful woman daring to enter into the home of a powerful, religious man.  She wondered how many of those piercing words would be cast by men who had enjoyed her favors not too long ago.  Some of them were her best clients, but they would sooner cast her to the dogs than acknowledge their own guilt.

Still this rabbi – there was something about him – he carried himself in a way the Pharisees never did, with authority and dignity, yet without arrogance.  He spoke of the Kingdom of God as if he alone had the key to the gate. He treated common, everyday people like they were his friends.  He did not make a public display of the good things he did like the religious leaders – and he did incredible, amazing, miraculous things like healing the sick and casting out demons. Rumor said that he even raised the widow’s son from the dead right here in Nain.  And he was kind to the poor, gentle with the lame and actually compassionate toward the people who stumbled in sin. “People like me,” she thought to herself.

When he walked through the village that day she saw him surrounded by his disciples and the townspeople; she could have never gotten through that throng of people to draw close to him, even if she dared to try.  But when he looked across all those faces and saw her, she knew he saw straight into her heart.  He saw both her sin and her sorrow, and somehow, was not repulsed by either.  That one look had stayed with her since that day, and it changed her life forever.  It was a look of intimacy, but not the kind she was used to, if you could call her nightly visits intimate at all.  No, this look went to her very soul and shook loose some dark and oppressive thing that had bound her for years.  That evening, when she turned away one of her clients, she knew she would never go back to that life again. It was as if the power of her sinful passions had been broken forever.

She shook her head, grabbed the alabaster jar and slipped out of the house.  Her pace quickened, almost as if she were moving faster so she would not change her mind.  Breathlessly she approached the perimeter of Simon’s property where a crowd had gathered around the house, watching the festivities and craning to hear every word the Rabbi spoke.  She began to weave her way through the people, holding tightly to her precious jar and the offering it contained.  She didn’t understand why it was so important to do this strange thing but she was certain a force outside of herself was driving her on, thrusting her into the suddenly silent room.  As she knelt at the foot of his couch, tears spilled from her eyes, washing the Rabbi’s feet and cleansing her own soul.

What would make this woman who had been so sinful courageously enter the home of a religious leader and risk being scorned and berated?  Why would she, who had given up her lucrative lifestyle, pour out her most valuable possession on the filthy feet of a rabbi? What had possibly taken hold of her?  In the words of Jesus: forgiveness and love.

Do you hesitate on the edge of the crowd that follows Jesus?  Are your sins and failures so great you don’t dare come near Him for fear of being exposed and rejected?  Is your soul stained and your heart broken?  Then Jesus bids you come and let your tears fall on His feet.  Bring your alabaster jar full of sin and pour it out on His feet.  Hear Him say to you, “Your sins are forgiven.  Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”[1]

[1] John 7:48, 50.

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4 thoughts on “The Alabaster Jar

  1. Beth, This is beautiful, as I sit here with tears running down my cheeks, this gives me such hope for so many people, including myself. He has looked at me and told me He loves me.

    • Marian, thank you for this lovely compliment. I wrote this because He gave me so much hope for my own life. The truth of His love is the most important truth we can share. Blessings my dear friend.

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