We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.” ~Jesus friend of sinners by Casting Crowns
This morning Abba led me to the gospel of Luke chapter 7. The passage begins with Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant, raising a widow’s dead son back to life, responding to John the Baptist’s disciples question on whether He was the Messiah, and finally ending with a narrative of what happened when the woman anointed His feet with her tears.
Many times, we are told this woman’s story as the woman with the Alabaster box. Some scholars have pointed to her being a known prostitute. Scriptures reveal her act as one that was significant of the Master’s impending burial (Matthew 16:13, Mark 14:8). In fact, I have discovered that her story is located in all four gospels. Something that is rare to witness. Many times, one story is found ONLY in the synoptic gospels. Rarely will one story (or a mention of it) be found in all four gospels. This story of this woman happens to be one such exception. (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-49, John 11:2).
We know the story, Jesus was invited to dinner by a Pharisee and in comes this woman who chose that opportunity to wash His feet with her tears and anoint them with the ointment from her flask.
The folks there griped and grumbled at her presence. They no doubt pondered how Jesus could possibly be a prophet for allowing her to even touch Him. “Gross”, they thought.
Jesus responded to them as only He could. He raised a story to them about a moneylender who had forgiven two debtors by erasing their debts; one for five hundred denaris and the other fifty. At the end of His story, He posed the question of which debtor would love the moneylender more. The response was, the one who owed more.
Jesus – always the one who gives us practical examples that challenge our way of thinking.
If you have been around for a while, you will know that I am a single mom of a teenager who turns 18 this year. Wow, where did the time go? I was literally born and raised in church that I attended every week. I had a knack for studying and reciting scripture (hearer but not a doer).
I began attending school at the age of 2 and at age 15, graduated high school. During those formative years, the institutions I attended were faith-based; one an Adventist, from age 2 through age 9. The other from ages 9 through 15 was a Catholic school. In each institution I was exposed to things of God.
I also grew up in a traditionally Christian home and was first baptized in a Pentecostal church. For all intents and purposes, I was a good Christian girl on display. Deep down however, I was far from that. I was pious to the core. No better than the Pharisees in the story listed above.
At age 13, I committed fornication (the biggest sin of my day then and even now per church folks) and ended up pregnant with my son. The shame brought to my parents, especially my dad was overwhelming. I can recall there being only one leader in my church at the time which looked at me with compassion. Several members jeered and criticized my family. I was whisked to America to have my son to hide the stigma that comes with having a child outside wedlock, especially with me being a teenager. I remember when I returned to my home in Jamaica; baby born and outside of utero, I felt ashamed to tell anyone I had left for several months to complete my pregnancy overseas. Having gone back to school, I would pretend like I was an average student. Embracing motherhood and seeing my son as a gift took many years to accept.
As I read the story of this woman this morning, the word used to describe her was a sinner. Not a teenage mom. Not a harlot. Not a murderer. Not an adulterer. Not a liar. Not a thief. Not a gossiper. Not an unbeliever. Plain and simple, she was a sinner.
I meditated on this word and wondered why this was used to describe her. This led to me researching just who she was. One theologian explained that she was a woman of a bad reputation. Her character was tainted and she was known in the community as being unwholesome, ungodly, messy. That woman, friends, was just like me. (Oh how nice it is to relate to someone in the Bible who was not perfect 🙌🏽).
As I reflected on her life even more, I realized that when she knelt by Jesus’ feet, He could have treated her unkindly. In fact, He could have felt such shame for His hosts that He could have told her to meet Him in a private location to do what she needed to do. He could have told her to not show up and hide herself in an undisclosed location. He could have ignored her entirely and not even spoken to her – but He did – twice. He could have looked at her with shame and condemnation.
He however, did none of the above.
Jesus looked at her with compassion, welcomed her acts of service, validated who she was in front of the “church people” and spoke life into her. Jesus, became her friend.
How many times have we been like these Pharisees? Quick to judge and condemn others because their lifestyles do not match up to our pristine ones. How many times do we hear various news report of someone who committed a crime and the first thing that leaves our mouths are condemnatory statements? They deserve the death penalty! Give them life in prison! Repay them for the evil they have done! They deserve the fullest punishment the law can render!
Whew! Help us Lord.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you (us). But you (we) were washed, you (we) were sanctified, you (we) were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV
Hear me out, I am not here to condone any sin. Our Savior does not. Remember the woman who was brought to Him accused of adultery. He told her, “…neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” (John 8:11). I am simply here to remind us that just as our Savior was a friend of sinners, we should be willing to love others whose sin do not look the same as ours; for bottom line; we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all needed to receive Christ’s forgiveness at some point, and still need His forgiveness daily.
As the world is on their way to Jesus, let us not be planked eyed saints. Let us not stand in any one’s way as they make their way to the cross. Not everyone is at our level of faith. We ourselves have not even arrived to the level of complete maturity or perfection.
“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”” Luke 7:23 ESV
Until next time, I love you friend, and so does Jesus too. ❤️