When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
24″ X 36″ OIL ON CANVAS
Original painting is in excellent condition and is available for sale.
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Life on the streets of Nain was hard. As a prostitute, the lifestyle she once embraced as a source of freedom and pleasure, a way to demonstrate her independence, had become bondage and bitterness. Her life was empty and futile, and the future seemed to hold nothing more than a heartache and cynical hatred. Even though she was familiar with acts of love, her heart had never known a love that captivated her with its purity.
Along with her general hopelessness, a gnawing awareness of the futility of her life was growing within her. She was beginning to understand that the choices she had made were not merely wrong because someone disapproved of them; they were wrong because they were sinful. She discovered that the things that used to bring her pleasure – power over men, the pride of being different from other women, and the reassuring jangle of coins in her purse – now seemed so foolish, so meaningless. From deep within her she sensed a mysterious change in her heart. She detected a longing to love and know the God she had heard about all her life, the God of Israel.
As she gazed out over the plain of Carmel to the hills of Nazareth in the distance, she recalled stories she had heard about a certain Nazarene, Jesus. It was He who had raised the grieving widow’s son to life and said, “Do not weep” (Luke7:13). Do not weep. Would He speak these words to her also? Could He change her life too? Was it too late for forgiveness?
As she watched His interaction with the common people from the shadows, she saw that He welcomed them and taught them with loving wisdom. As she saw Him with the religious leaders, she knew He wasn’t like them. It was true that He loved and obeyed the law’ yet He was humble and gentle. He seemed so different from all the other men she had ever known. The desire to get to know Him began to captivate her. Some said that He was the Messiah. She had seen Him befriend and eat with sinners. It seemed as though He loved them. Would He receive her? What would He say to a woman who had been so proud of her sin?
This compelling desire to know and love Him became like a addiction in her heart. How can I get near Him? She felt that it would be wrong to go to Him empty-handed, so she took her most precious possession, an alabaster vial of perfume, and went to seek Him. On the day that she chose to go to Him, she discovered that He was having dinner at Simon’s house. This Pharisee despised and condemned her. In spite of that, she still had to see Him. She had to find a way to show the love she had come to have for the One who said, “Do not weep.” In spite of her fear and shame, in desperation she imposed herself on Him.
The woman brought a heart filled with tears of love and repentance to pour on His feet. Rather than telling her not to weep, Jesus graced her with the ability to weep righteously, to mourn over sin, to love Him. He gave her a warm heart of flesh – one that could receive and embrace His person, His law. He gave her the ability to kiss holiness, to humble herself before a pure man, to use her perfume in worship of the perfect Man who is God.
She who had been so lost in immorality was now lost in sorrow and joy for sins recognized and forgiven. It no longer mattered what anyone else thought. She loved the Lord and humbled herself before Him. Jesus knew that her actions were motivated by love – a love that could ignore disapproval and disdain – a love that was willing to praise Him at the cost of all she had. Jesus recognized this love and said, “Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).
Like her, when our eyes are opened to His worth our hearts overflow with worship. As we grow in seeing His love in forgiveness, everything else will fade in value. This woman poured out her perfume because Jesus had given her a new treasure: a cleansed heart and life and a relationship with Him. Once she wept in bitterness for her earthly sorrows; now she wept for her sins. Did she know that God was saving up these cherished tears in an alabaster vial in Heaven? (see Psalm 56:8).