YOUR ALABASTER FLASK OF FRAGRANT OIL
Click here to LISTEN to PODCAST
Our Feature Bible Passage: Luke 7:36-50 and Matthew 26:1-13
The story is told of a woman who everybody called a sinner. In fact, in some versions of the story, she is called a hooker. A prostitute. One day she heard that a man named Jesus Christ was having supper in the house of one of the religious leaders in her city. Her heart twisted. Jesus was so near? So near? This man, this prophet, this healer was so near? She had seen Him show love and kindness to many, even others like her who everybody treated like scum. She had seen Him transform their lives, restoring them from their broken places with just a few words of love; asking them what it is that they wanted Him to do for them, and asking them to stop sinning. The woman was sure that this man loved her, and could open a door to her spiritual, emotional and physical freedom. Her heart loved Him. Her whole being desired the life He had to offer. So she tarried no longer. She ran inside her inner chambers, and grabbed the thing that was most precious to her, an alabaster flask filled with fragrant oil. Gathering her cloak around her, she hurried to the religious leader’s house. Flames of fear licked at the edges of her mind, telling her that when she got to the place of her rescue, she would be turned away. Images of her accusers whispering and sneering at her, even outrightly rebuking her were barging at the doors of her mind. But she kept going, her heart and mind focused on the One she was going to see, because there was nothing worth more than what she knew He could do in her life.
The woman arrived at the house where Jesus was. She didn’t wait to be allowed in. She didn’t announce herself. She walked straight through the open door to where Jesus was sitting and grabbed hold of Him. Her tears were streaming down her cheeks and falling onto His feet, and in the most delicate and yielded way, this woman wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair, and poured the fragrant oils from her alabaster flask on Him. She kissed Him.
The religious leaders in the room were in uproar. Didn’t Jesus know who this woman was? How could He call Himself a prophet and yet, He did not know who He was allowing to touch Him in this inappropriate manner? What would people say? She was a prostitute touching a “man of God”! Jesus’s close friends and followers were also in the room. They said nothing. They didn’t really know what to think about this spectacle unravelling before their eyes. A known sinner, a prostitute, kissing their Jesus, pouring sweet-smelling oil all over the place, and wiping His feet with her hair? What were they to make of this?
Then Jesus spoke.
“Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on My feet and dried them with her hair. You gave Me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing My feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed My feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”
Then Jesus spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”
The dinner guests got talking behind His back: “Who does He think He is, forgiving sins?!”
But Jesus ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
The story is told of a subsequent time, when Jesus was having supper at the house of a man called Simon, the Leper. And a woman who also had an alabaster flask, filled with expensive fragrant oil, loved Jesus so much, that she poured the oil on His head, as He sat at the dinner table. The disciples were indignant! What a waste! The oil could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor! They thought…
Then Jesus spoke.
“Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for Me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not Me. When she poured this perfume on My body, what she really did was anoint Me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”
You may have guessed by now that the stories I just shared are true stories of women in the Bible who loved Jesus so much, and who wholeheartedly valued Him as their Saviour, so much so that they poured their love on Him, not caring what anyone would say. The passion they had in their hearts for Jesus was evident in the way they treated Him, in the way they gifted Him with the best of what they had, signifying that they knew that there was nothing worth more than the gift of liberty and life that He had freely crowned them with.
The Pharisees on the other hand did not feel the same way about Jesus. They did not understand why He would allow “sinners” near Him, talk less of touch Him and associate with Him. The disciples, who were closest to Jesus, were also not getting it. They knew there was something significant going on but their logic and sense told them that there were better ways to channel the passion and strength of your life, than to “waste it” on Jesus. They did not yet know that Jesus is the prize. Knowing Him. Loving Him. Serving Him. Giving Him EVERYTHING is the goal. Because there is nothing worth more than the gift of liberty and life that He has given to us.
Most of us are a melting pot of all three groups of people we saw in these stories. We are a bit like the women who loved and valued Jesus with all their heart, we are a bit like the religious leaders who were self-righteous and judgmental, who lived by rules instead of by a relationship of intimacy with and surrender to Jesus. We are also a bit like the disciples, who were close to Jesus and were being taught by Him, yet their hearts had not yet come to see Him as their Saviour and Lord. They did not yet understand His invaluable worth.
My prayer is that we will all become wholly like the women in these Bible passages, who had the insight to see Jesus as He is.
They loved His life, His work, His love, and in response, they gave emptied their alabaster flasks of expensive fragrant oil on Him. In other words, they gave Him everything.
Let Us Pray:
Lord Jesus, this week, all we want to do is to come before You, humbly, surrendered, amazed, at Your mercy and love for us. We worship You this week, Lord. We adore You. We lay aside everything that hinders us from setting our gaze on You alone. Nothing else matters. You are our one desire. You are the sustainer of our lives; the very breath of our hearts. You are the love of our lives, our only hope. Receive our adoration this week as a sacrifice of love for all that You are and all that You have done for us. This week, we choose to take a stance of worship and adoration before You Lord. We give You the strength and passion of our lives, because You are worth it and much more. In Jesus name. Amen.
A Last Word:
Please let us meditate on Luke 7:36-50, especially the verses from 39-50 where the Pharisees and disciples clearly did not understand the concept of a “sinner” getting special treatment from Jesus. This story tells us so much about the heart of Jesus, and of God the Father. It also tells us that we need to approach God not with a performance mindset where we try to adhere to a list of do’s and don’ts, thinking that this is what qualifies us. Rather, this week, let us approach God the way this woman did – she came bare, she came broken, she came without pretense, she came with a burning desire to pour out the fullness of who she was before Jesus, and to worship Him. Can you take that stance before the Lord this week? Write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how it went, will you?
Critically, I end this by saying, I am Toyin Oladiran, fully convicted by my own words and very much still under construction in the hands of the Father. See you next time.
Written by Toyin Oladiran for The Narrow Gateway.
Work with Toyin:Do you want to apply for an early spot in the B.O.O.M Walk Program? If so, please email me on email@example.comDo you want to work with me One-on-One or with your Group (church fellowship or Bible Study or group of friends) to work through the B.O.O.M Walk Program or to work through and overcome trouble spots in your walk with God or to forge a more intimate and deliberate relationship with God from which you are living in God’s unique purpose and plan for your life? If so, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.orgDo you want me to faciliate a group Bible Study for your church or with your group of friends? If so, please email me on email@example.com