The woman who broke the alabaster jar over the head of Jesus, and washed his feet with her hair and tears, gave Him all she had, humble and humiliated. And her story has been told throughout the expanse of time in the pages of the Bible and through the oral tradition that preceded it.
I’ve been waiting a couple of days to finally get the time to sit here and write this. I recently read Mark 14 where this story is captured. And, as I was driving home, I questioned within myself, “Why did Jesus want her story to be remembered always? How do we ensure that our service to Him is remembered like that?” And that’s when it hit me…
She gave all she had, humble and humiliated.
Now, I know some of you are bristling at the use of the word humiliated, but take a step back here and revisit the story and the woman. All four Gospels tell this story: Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-50, and John 12:1-8.
Matthew’s account points out that Jesus was in the home of a leper. Mark also reveals that. But Luke goes a step further. Simon, the leper, was also a Pharisee. And the woman, was a sinner that Jesus should have been appalled to have been touched by. Interesting how a leprous Pharisee is upset about a sinful woman touching Jesus. Maybe he was jealous? John further adds to the story by telling us that the woman was Mary, Martha’s sister.
Now let’s go back to the humiliated aspect here. John tells us that Judas belittled Mary’s gesture saying she shouldn’t have wasted it. The Pharisee, too, looked down on her. And, she was using her hair to wipe Jesus’ dust covered feet. A woman’s hair was her crown of beauty and she used it like a rag in His presence. Do you not think she was humiliated by the position on the floor and the judgmental stares she experienced amidst her act of humility?
That jar of nard, ointment, perfume, whatever your translation says, was worth a lot of money. It was probably one of her most prized possessions and she broke it to pour over the Master’s head and wash His feet with tears and hair. She chose that position on the floor. No one forced her there.
One Gospel writer says she heard Jesus was at Simon’s house and purposely traveled there to do just that. She knew what people thought about her before she entered the doors. She knew what they would think about her as she performed her act of service before the King. And yet, she bowed humbly and gave all she had.
This is what Jesus expects of us: all we have, humble and humiliated. Pouring out your heart to people, opening up your wounds, loving them in their messes, that can all be humiliating. People don’t want to get in the trenches, they don’t want to pour anointing oil on dirty things. They don’t want to cleanse one another with personal touches, but this is our reason for being here, Church, Body. We are here to humbly allow ourselves to be humiliated before the masses for the sake of benefiting His children, His Bride, His Church, His Body.
Does it hurt? Is it uncomfortable? Will it take us so far out of who we think we are that we feel we could never possibly give up that nard, that bottle of valuable internal personage? You bet! But, then our impact, our legacy, our saltiness will add savor for years to come. What’s He calling you to give Him? Where’s He calling you to kneel? What/Who is He calling you to cleanse, anoint, heal, love?
Go in that leper’s house and do it!
Featured image by Schristia (Flickr)