Luke 7: 36-50 is the record of the woman who broke an alabaster box of expenseive perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, washing them with her tears and wiping them with her hair. The onlookers judged the demonstration to be a shameful, extravagant waste by a sinful woman. Only Jesus understood her and her act towards Him. He understood the depths of her penitent heart.
It was customary at that time to provide guests visiting your home with water to wash away the dust of the road from feet, thus administering cleansing and refreshment. Jesus justified the woman’s act to His host, Simon, a Pharisee, who had not provided the customary foot washing proceedure. Simon’s innermost thoughts were: “…….This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touches him, for she is a sinner”. (verse 39)
Jesus read Simon’s inner most thoughts and the following dialogue ensued: Jesus said, “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. Jesus said to him, ‘You have rightly judged’. Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘See this woman – I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil you did not anoint, but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment. Thus I say to you, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little’. And Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven’………and He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you, go in peace’.” (Verses 41-50)
To whom much is forgiven will love most. Many have experienced the dark periods of guilt and shame of past sins before forgiveness and deliverance that can only be found in Christ Jesus after repentance. He brings us into His glorious light, cleansed and forgiven, clothed in His robe of righteousness for His glory.
However, there are also other seasons we travel through that weigh heavily upon us in suffering. It could be either emotional, or physical pain, grief, adverse circumstances, relationship problems, financial difficulties – these may all be dark tunnels of suffering that God has permitted, (not sent).
Remember: God permits, in His wisdom, that which He could prevent, in His power.
None of us would choose these times, but it is needful to understand that God can use them to do a work in our hearts that necessitates a learning curve. God chastens, (disciplines), His children out of His great heart of love for them, always desiring His best for us. (Hebrews 12:11) There is no waste in the economy of God. He can use everything for divine purpose, bringing many sons to glory…..in the unity of the faith…..to the full stature of His Son, (Ephesians 4). There is purpose in every trial and hardship. When the pain is too much to bear, there is only one place to run for sanctuary, into God. When the weight of trials dim your experience of His presence, stop trying to understand everything. Stop trying to hold on to God, surrender and let Him hold you. His word promises the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in the midst of our trial to comfort us, to bring light in our suffering.
Before Jesus’ ascension to heaven, He promised His disciples: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you”, John 14:26.
He shall teach you……we have much to learn. Sometimes, in the dark times, we have to “unlearn” some things that we have deemed so right, or even have been unaware of being wrong. Many a healthy person has lacked compassion for others in ill health, until they themselves have experienced suffering. When you have experienced a particular trial, pushed into God and adjusted to hear what God is saying amidst it, you begin to see things differently from God’s viewpoint. God’s light brings clarity and His peace. The trial also has another purpose. The apostle, Paul, declared: “….the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”, 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4.
When God brings us through suffering of any description, it births in us His compassion for others, and an understanding of where they are, instead of indifference or judgement. All trials have purpose. The woman who broke the alabaster box of ointment for Jesus’ feet anointing, was forgiven much for her sins were many, and therefore experienced an overwhelming love and gratitude towards Jesus. In the same token, when we have emerged from the dark tunnel of trial, we experience the joy of being released from the tightrope of suffering into a broad space of freedom. We do well to remember to keep a heart of thanksgiving, an attitude of gratitude to the One who carried us through. When we have suffered much, we too, know the experience of loving much – all praise and thanks to the Comforter, our Lord Jesus Christ and our loving Heavenly Father – He deserves all glory and honour and praise!