Monday— When a sinful woman…learned that Jesus was dining there, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume (v 37).
She couldn’t get it out of her head. Everyone was talking about it. Not to her, of course. No decent person spoke to the likes of her in daylight. But she’d heard that the Teacher, the Healer, would be dining at Simon’s house tonight and that knowledge sparked a daring plan. They said He forgave sins, just like God could. They said He welcomed everybody, even people like her. She wore the label “sinful woman” for good reason, but what if she didn’t have to wear it anymore? Could He change her?
Her family would be furious. The perfume was her inheritance. Her retirement plan. The only thing she had of worth. But she had to try. She got it from its place of honor, dusted it off, and tucked it inside her cloak. It was all she had to bring Him but maybe it would be enough. Maybe it would show Him how much she wanted to belong to Him, to God, to a new way of life. By breaking it at His feet, she would forever cancel any possibility of returning to her old life. She was all in. And being “all in” is the way we honor God. It can be scary. It requires that we turn our backs on habits, relationships, and sins that have always defined us. But this woman could not honor Jesus with an empty jar. She had to pour it out. All of it. And so must we.
Final Thought: Honor is sacrificial.
Prayer: Lord, have I poured out the contents of my life at your feet? Have I honored you with my sacrifices or am I hoping you’ll accept an empty jar? This woman’s actions demonstrated your worth. Does my life demonstrate your worth?
Tuesday— As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and anointed them with the perfume (v 38).
She could have simply handed Him the jar and left. She could have waited until he wasn’t in a roomful of judgmental men. Or she could have poured a thimbleful of perfume for Jesus and kept the rest for herself. Instead, she chose the most humbling, embarrassing, public display of emotion they’d ever seen. Known for her immoral lifestyle, this woman barged into a gathering of the religious elite where she would never have been invited, in order to cry in front of strangers and kiss the feet of a holy Man. She then let her hair down and used the long tresses for a towel. It could not have been more shocking.
What she did embarrasses us a little because we don’t like to humble ourselves like that. What will people think? But to honor Jesus at the level He deserves requires humility. We are saying, “This One is greater than me.” Instead of showboating our own achievements or defending our reputations, we throw that to the wind and bow before another. That can be costly and it’s always humbling. In order to honor Jesus, this woman publicly admitted that she was wrong and wanted to change. It’s inconceivable that this woman dried her tears and went back to partying. She didn’t toss the jar away and return to her lover’s house. That’s why Jesus forgave her. She humbly repented, and humble repentance brings Jesus the highest honor.
Final Thought: Honor is humbling.
Prayer: Jesus, you demonstrated humility when you were on the earth. You knew your worth, but took a lowly reputation. Show me areas of my life where I need to humble myself. I want to bring you high honor by my humble repentance. Amen.
Wednesday— “A moneylender had two debtors: the one owed five hundred denarii, and the other, fifty. When they were unable to repay, he canceled the debts of both. So which of them will love him more?” (v 41-42)
The Smythe boys couldn’t have been more different. Jock was the golden son: all-state pitcher, charming, and well-known to law enforcement, even though he always managed to talk his way out of trouble. His parents, however, were distraught over the way he treated them. Rude, arrogant, and disrespectful, he trashed the car they bought him, stole his dad’s credit card, and terrified his mom. Younger son Rudy was the opposite. Adopted from Uganda at age 10, he struggled with school and couldn’t play any sport. But he adored his adoptive parents, obeyed them, and lived to make them proud. What made the difference?
Gratitude. Why did the guy forgiven five hundred denarii love Jesus more than the guy forgiven fifty? Gratitude. Jock took for granted his parents’ sacrifices and felt no need to honor them. Rudy, however, remembered life in Uganda when he’d nearly starved to death. He appreciated his parents’ sacrifices and that grateful spirit prompted him to honor them any way he could. We are often like Jock in taking for granted the sacrifices God made so we could be forgiven. We flaunt our sin, disregard His church, and ignore His word. But we honor God when we become like Rudy, living to make Him proud.
Final Thought: Honor is a way to demonstrate gratitude.
Prayer: Father, I take for granted so many of your gifts. I get arrogant and bring you dishonor in my careless disregard for your sacrifice. Please forgive and restore me. May I live every day in gratitude for your sacrifice. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair (v 44).
“I can’t believe you won that contest!” cried Vicky and threw her arms around her best friend. “The princess is coming to spend the weekend with you! At your house! Right here in our town! I’m so excited!” Tammi shrugged. “Yeah, it’s great, I guess. Hope it doesn’t interfere with my soccer schedule.” Vicky stepped back to gape at her friend. “Are you serious? Hello. She’s the future queen. I’ll help you clean house and get ready for her.” Tammi frowned. “She’s just a human being. I didn’t plan to do anything special. If my house is clean enough for me, it’s clean enough for her. What’s the big deal?”
The big deal, Tammi, is honor. A proper reception for a future queen requires intentional preparation. Careless oversight is dishonoring. Simon did that when Jesus came to his house. In a land where people walked in sandals, it was customary for hosts to provide a basin of water and a servant to wash the dust off a guest’s feet. It honored the guest but required preparation. Simon the Pharisee showed that he did not recognize Jesus’ worth when he carelessly ignored common courtesy. He may have wanted to prove that he was equal or superior to this carpenter’s son. So Jesus pointed out that Simon’s dinner invitation was not an honor, it was meant to prove a point. His disrespect only showcased a sinful woman’s honor.
Final Thought: Honor is intentional.
Prayer: Father, in what areas of my life do I need to be more intentional about honoring you? I’m slacking off and taking you for granted. I renew my commitment to you and ask you to help me be more intentional about honor. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet (v 46).
Oil on my head? Nothing in American history gives us any context for statements like that, so we shouldn’t read them through our western filters. In the ancient Middle East, honored guests received a royal welcome when invited to someone’s home. Hospitality topped the list of Most Important Virtues. Honored guests received a cool foot-washing by a servant, a kiss on both cheeks by the host, and a few drops of perfumed oil on the head which conditioned the hair in a dry climate. A well-received guest felt pampered as he or she reclined at an extravagant banquet table. Generous hospitality was a way of showing honor.
That’s why it was a public insult when Simon the Pharisee did not even provide the bare minimum for Jesus’ visit. He was curious about Jesus, wanted some questions answered, but not if it cost him anything. So Jesus turned that into an opportunity to highlight the differences between the way Simon received Him and the way the sinful woman received Him. Wealthy Simon could not spare a few drops of drugstore perfume while the lowly prostitute poured out every drop of her DKNY Golden Delicious. When our hearts have been changed, we become extravagant toward God. Before we knew Christ, Sunday mornings were for sleeping in. Afterwards, we can’t wait to get to church. Before we knew Christ, money was for splurging. Afterwards, we look for ways to give. Being transformed by Jesus makes us want to honor Him extravagantly.
Final Thought: Honor is extravagant.
Prayer: Father, am I pouring out extravagant love and honor on you? Or have I become stingy? Examine my accounts: my time account, financial account, love account, and obedience account. I want to love you extravagantly. In Jesus’ name, amen.