The Scriptures are filled with stories about women whose lives have taught us lessons on faith, courage, and strength. Perhaps, a few names come to mind – Ruth, Esther, Mary of Nazareth, Abigail, Deborah, among others.
In the New Testament, we find stories of women (many are unnamed) who experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus. One of them is the woman with the alabaster jar.
Who was this woman? How did she meet Jesus?
We read in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 7:36-50) about Jesus dining in the house of a Pharisee. Then, a woman, introduced to us as a sinner, made her way to the Pharisee’s house. As she stood behind Jesus’ feet weeping, she wet His feet with her tears, wiped it with her hair and poured perfume on them from a jar of alabaster she brought with her.
As I was writing this blog, I asked the Holy Spirit to speak to me about lessons we can learn from this unnamed woman. These three big words He impressed on my heart – Faith, Forgiveness, and Love.
Faith. News about Jesus and the miracles that He performed have spread throughout the region. Upon learning that Jesus was in town, this woman made her way to the house where Jesus was. Her faith led her footsteps to the One who can heal her brokenness. In the sight of an indignant crowd, she repented publicly and acknowledged Jesus as His Lord and Savior. Without uttering a single word, her actions showed how she believed Jesus as the Messiah.
In verse 50, Jesus says to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace’. The apostle Paul wrote about the same saving faith in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not of works lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Forgiveness. Her old life was full of darkness. She was a prisoner of the sin that enslaved her. Like you and I, this woman was a sinner and in need of forgiveness. Jesus knew everything this woman had done. Jesus saw her pain and her brokenness as well. In a powerful act of divine grace, Jesus says to the woman, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (verse 48). What a liberating moment that must have been when she heard these words from the Lord.
We have been in that same place of darkness at some point in our life. But we don’t have to stay in that place. In Luke chapter 5:31-32, Jesus says to the Pharisees and scribes, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Love. The depth of her sin. The grace of the Savior. She carried the weight of her sin until she experienced the forgiveness and love of Jesus. When a person receives the love and forgiveness of God, something supernatural takes place within. That person now has the capacity to love. Indeed, we cannot give something we have not received.
The fragrant oil sealed in the alabaster jar would be worth a year’s wage. It was the woman’s most valuable possession. In an act of sacrifice and love, she broke the neck of the jar and anointed Jesus with perfume. In ancient culture, spikenard symbolized the best of fragrant oils. Spikenard is only mentioned in two places in the Bible, this passage and Song Of Solomon. In verse 47, Jesus says to Simon, ‘Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
In closing, I would like to leave a few thoughts as we reflect on the lessons from the story of the woman with the alabaster jar.
Are we still trusting in our ‘good’ works to be reconciled with God? What can you and I do today to take us a step closer in trusting Jesus as our Lord and Savior?
Are we struggling with sin in our life? Jesus is calling you and I to repentance. Is there something holding us back from receiving the forgiveness of the Savior?
Do we really love Jesus? Does our life reflect His love?
Lord Jesus, help us to seek you today and allow us to experience your love and forgiveness.
Note: Some content in this blog was taken from 4 Things The Woman With The Alabaster Box Can Teach Us by Rosevine Cottage Girls.