The woman slipped from the stranger’s bed undetected. She brushed away a tear of shame from what she had just done. It was always like this for her. She would begin her day promising herself that she would not lay with anyone again. As another lonely night approached, she would surrender to her desire for love. She enjoyed the momentarily comfort of being held in a man’s arms. She would pretend that this man was the one who would love her and take care of her forever. But it always ended with a few coins left for her after the man had his way.
As she walked, she noticed the man they called Jesus up ahead of her. She had been following him for a while. Always in the background, listening intently to the things he said. He was so tender and compassionate with everyone he met. He talked about the light and the darkness and being the way, the truth and the life. She stopped and brushed some hair from her face. She longed for a new life. She felt a stirring in her soul. Her chest felt heavy. Thoughts of unworthiness and distrust swirled through her mind. She had heard him say. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” She was weary. So weary. Could she trust this man?
Suddenly, she knew what she must do. She returned to her house to retrieve her alabaster jar. The jar was filled with an exquisite perfume. It was given to her by one of the wealthy gentleman she knew. It represented the fairy tale life and love she always longed for. She would not come to Jesus empty-handed.
Through the city she ran, back to the house that Jesus had entered. She burst through the door not giving heed to the men around her. She moved to stand behind Jesus. She began to weep. As she cried uncontrollably, the tears fell upon Jesus’ feet. She broke open her alabaster jar. Without a word, she poured the perfume upon his feet.
The astonished onlookers and his disciples grumbled among themselves. The religious leader who had invited Jesus into his home thought to himself that Jesus should know who this woman was. She was a prostitute-a sinner. Jesus knew his thoughts and began to question him with a short story: “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him 500 denarii, and the other 50. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
The man said, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
The woman realized that Jesus accepted her. In her heart she began to confess all the wicked things she had done. At his feet, she saw the streaks of her tears. No one had bothered to wash his feet, as was the custom in someone’s home. Her tears were cleansing his feet just as they were cleansing her heart…no more dirty streaks. She released the band from her head to wipe his feet dry with her hair.
Jesus turned toward the woman. She looked up at him. Her eyes met his. It was if he knew everything about her, but he did not look away. Would he defend her or mock her also? Jesus gently wiped away a tear from her face.
He spoke again to the religious leader: “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus smiled at her and said, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The woman returned the smile and left the house. She began to skip through the streets. She felt like a new person. She was clean…whole. No more nights with other men. No more lying and scheming. She was free! Jesus had set her free!
Christ values women. In so many parts of the world they are abused, abandoned, raped and neglected. Many never receive a standard education. Yet remember the woman at the well?
The woman said to Him, “I know the Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
This was the first time Jesus would reveal Himself as the Messiah and He chose a woman to hear this great news. A woman of many husbands, most likely gossiped about and viciously ridiculed by other women.
So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things I have done; this is not the Christ is it?”
Bible references: Matthew 11:28, Luke 7:36-50, John 8:32 and John 4:1-42