Spiritual Growth

The Woman with an Alabaster Box

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The woman with the alabaster box. (Guest post from www.pastorlee.net)

An image of a woman surrounded by boxes with the title, "The Woman with an Alabaster Box"

That Sinful Woman of the Bible

Everyone knew who she was. We know her as the woman with the alabaster box, but they knew her simply as ‘that sinful woman.’  The Bible doesn’t even give us her name. But what she did and who she became will never be forgotten.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

Luke 7:36-37 (NIV)

 

She did not hide in the dark corners. She walked into this Pharisee’s house. From the moment she appeared in the doorway, Simon, so sure of His own piety looked down on her with utter disdain. He was disgusted by her and disgusted that she was in his house.

He did not separate her from what she had done. To Simon the Pharisee, she was her sin. Ever been judged solely for what you have done wrong? Those who had gathered gasp in shock at the audacity shown by this sinful woman to dare enter the home. Simon was seen as holy and she was less than the dirt on the soles of their shoes. But Jesus saw things differently. Aren’t you glad that Jesus sees you differently?

woman with an alabaster box

She heard Jesus was going to be at this house. Stories of Jesus healing the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the leper had spread almost as quickly as the gossip said about her in her hometown. During Biblical times, it was unheard of for a holy man to be associated with the likes of this woman. But those stories of Jesus going out of His way to love and forgive the forgotten ones gave her hope that He would accept her if she came to Him. She was right. 

The Unknown Woman with an Alabaster Box

She was unloved. An outcast. Her sin was public. Everyone knew what she was and how she lived. No one cared for the circumstances that led her to this place. She had been tried and convicted in court of public opinion sentenced to an existence without value. Had anyone ever truly loved her. A woman would not simply choose this path. It was put upon her, forced upon her to survive. Her sin gave her provision, but the sacrifice was to never be loved. At least, until this moment as she knelt at the feet of Christ. 

There are so many things that happen to us, in particular women, even as little girls that they never chose. We didn’t choose our home, our mother, our father, our babysitter. The absence of patience and kindness from those closest to us create a sense of cheapness within us. We learn from their response to us that we are the problem and if we would just be better, things would be ok. We spend our life trying to do just that…be better. We never realize that we will never be good enough for some people because they must have a scapegoat for their own dismay. To allow us to be good enough would be to accept blame for their issues and some will never do this. So they go on blaming, ridiculing, hating, judging. And we long to be loved, not because we did something good, just loved without condition.

Head lowered, she stepped softly into this crucible of hatred toward this man. She never thought she would be allowed. Even as she heard the stories, as she made her way to Simon’s home, she wondered if this man, Jesus, would accept even a woman like her. When Jesus did not shoo her away, the wounds from never being accepted broke out of her in tears that dropped on his feet. To finally be loved moved her where she did not expect. She had no towel, nothing to wipe the tears from his feet so she let down her hair. This was a scandalous move. Only women of ill repute would let down their hair in public, but suddenly what they thought about her didn’t matter anymore. When will we allow God’s value in us override what other people say?

An image of a woman holding a white box with the title, "The Woman with an Alabaster Box: That Sinful Woman of the Bible:

She Became a Virtuous Woman in the Bible

She took her hair in her hand and gently wiped the tears. She took the alabaster jar in her hand. This is why she had come, to honor this beautiful man, but she was the one honored. True adoration of Christ reveals a love and honor that covers over our past, our sins, and heals our wounds.

Whatever has been done to you, whatever experiences you have endured that may have made you feel unloved and unloveable, there is a man, a Savior, who will bind up your wounds and heal your broken heart. He loves you for who you were before that thing happened in your life. He loves you for you. He doesn’t judge, only heals and restores. Whatever you have to do, go to Him. You may feel unworthy before Him, but He has loved you with an everlasting love inside a wisdom that has known your every mistake before you made it. Adore Him now.

Simon would have normally had her thrown out of his house. There is no way he would have let some sinful woman inside his home. He allowed it this one time just to see what Jesus might do. And what a beautiful thing Jesus did.

As she stood behind him 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.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Luke 7:38-39 (NIV)

 

She stood behind Jesus. Jesus was between her and Simon. When we come to Jesus, He stands between us and those who refuse to love us, who don’t even know how to love us. He is the buffer that relieves the pain.

In her adoration, she took her eyes off of Simon. She could have cared less what people were saying or doing. Never in her life had she felt so free, unencumbered by their contempt. Lost in worship, she was no longer ‘that sinful woman.’  When the honored guest honored her, they were all proven wrong, put in their place and she was vindicated. She was not who they said she was. She was the only one out of all of them truly and fully accepted by Jesus. What could they say now. Woman…when Jesus has accepted you as His own, when He has validated your existence as something more wonderful than pearls, what can your enemies say now? Their criticisms will fall empty and their opinions will be seen for their own hypocrisy. Stand tall in whose you are for if He has honored you, who can say anything to you now?

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “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—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47 (NIV)

 

She walked in with no honor, then Jesus honored her more than Simon. In one moment, her past was wiped out. Her life was made new. Jesus, the Messiah, accepted her and honored her among those who despised her. From this moment on, if Simon wanted to say anything to her, she could remind him that Jesus honored her in front of him, even in his own house. Freedom from judgment. Freedom from shame. Life began again.

The alabaster jar of sweet perfume. She would use this perfume to perpetrate her sin. The pleasantness of the aroma covered over the filth of her sin. It was expensive like the kind a grand woman of respect might use and she used it like a blanket to hide herself and pretend she was not who she was. Kneeling there in His love, there was no longer a need to cover the filth of her life. He covered her now and gave her a new reputation, a new hope, and a new life. She poured out her deepest pain from that alabaster jar because she no longer needed this sweet smelling camouflage. She was made new at the feet of Jesus. 

Overcoming Shame

There are so many things we use to cover our shame and filth, but they only create a facade and we know it. But when we pour out our pain that we have tried to hide and cover for so long, we are made new.

“How could God love a woman like me” she asked herself. His answer…”How could I not love a woman like you? You have honored me by trusting me as your covering. You have honored me by pouring out your pain to me for healing. You have honored me in a way that others never have.”

If you have ever felt unwanted, discarded, forgotten by God, I want to tell you that He loves you even now. You may feel that people will think you are a hypocrite, unworthy. You will hear the voices of your past saying you are not good enough, too messed up, too sinful. But I am telling you to come anyway. Come for forgiveness. Come for acceptance. Come for love that endures forever. Let Him stand between you and those who judge you and look down on you. Come and worship Him. Come and find new life. I know you don’t feel worthy. I know you don’t feel deserving. I know you hate yourself. I know you hate all that you have done, but come anyway.

Simon looked at this woman as if she was trying to be something she wasn’t. “How dare she even think that she can walk into my house?” But Simon was the real pretender and Jesus exposed him. In the same way that she spent all of herself earning love, he spent all of himself trying to earn respect. He was the real whore selling himself to be exalted by the people. He didn’t wear the scandalous clothing, but his white robes were covered in the filth of pride. We must…we must stop letting pretenders define us, who we are, and who we can become. We are the sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Stop letting people steal your Heavenly royalty.

An image of a woman holding a red box with the title, " The Sinful Woman: The Woman with an Alabaster Box"

Regret and Shame Turned to Glory

Simon was just as empty as this woman. Perhaps that is why he invited Jesus to dinner, not to bow down and worship, but to increase his reputation. He covered his sin with piety and religion. She had covered her shame with fragrance. He remained his own fool continuing to try to cover his sin with pride, but she emptied everything, poured out her covering. Jesus did not leave her uncovered but covered her with His love and power. Simon’s cover was torn by the rebuke of Jesus. She was embraced. Simon was embarrassed. The woman with an alabaster jar reversed the roles with her tears and incense. If God be with us, who can be against us?

The pain we experience does all kinds of damage to our spirit. We seek healing by covering over the pain with anger, with success, with sexuality, with perfume. Come to Jesus and pour them out and He will be your covering.

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:48-50 (NIV)

 

An image of a silhouette of a woman with the title, "The sinful woman of the bible with an alabaster box"

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Susan is a writer, speaker and the creator of Women of Noble Character ministries. She is passionate about helping Christian women deepen their walk with God through Bible study and creative worship and strengthen their marriages.

She lives in rural North Central Missouri with her handsome and hilarious husband and a myriad of dogs, cats and chickens.

Susan runs on Jesus, coffee and not enough sleep.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello Susan ! I found you on Christianity.com and totally enjoyed your article on Deborah, which brought me to Woman of Nobel Character. I have been journaling on scripture, on and off, for many years . As of July, I have been getting up, in the all so silent hours of the morning (3ish) on a daily bases, to read, pray and Journal. It is my belief it was Christ that caused me to do this. Your writing on the woman with the alabaster box was also amazing. I have a family member, whom many would put in the same shame category, as the unnamed woman in the story. Some nonbelievers, some “good Christians”. Now that I’m a woman of some years ( haha ) I have learned that the only finger pointing that should be done by me, is at myself, before Christ, so He can help me to repent ( change) and heal, by His Mercy and Grace. For me there is no other way … He is the Only Way, The Only Truth, and the Only Life. There is no other, If I am going to truly follow My Precious Jesus, and enter the narrow gate. “Judge not and be not Judge” Unconditional Love and forgiveness has been given to me, so how can I do less for those who look down their noses and me, or others? How can I possibly judge anyone else, even the judgmental religious? I once myself, was a judgmental Christian, who has been forgiven. My shame was as deep as the unnamed lady in the story’s shame. I have learned all this finger pointing can go on without end. I always knew this with my head, but since the early morning reading, prayer and journaling, I now know it in my soul and heart. This has made a HUGE difference in my relationship with Christ and with others. God Bless you and keep you Susan ! Im so grateful to my precious Lord, for putting you in my path??

    1. I’m so glad that it blessed you. The post on the Alabaster box was written by guest writer Pastor Lee. It is amazing, isn’t? And reminds us that we no longer have shame through the victory in Christ!

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