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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Of ill repute?

I saw a post this morning which I'd like us to consider for a few moments:  "Grace is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back."  It comes from a Facebook page entitled "To Save A Life".  I don't know if they are the original source of it or not, but it speaks volumes, so I will repost it here.  One day, Jesus was taking supper at a prominent Pharisee's house (one of the religious leaders of his day).  The Pharisee's name is Simon, but it is not Simon we shall focus on this morning other than to thank him for asking the questions which helped Jesus teach the lesson we are about to discover this morning.  You see, Jesus was certainly welcomed into the house of the leader, with a meal prepared specially for him.  It must have been a planned event because along comes a lady of "lesser repute" than Simon who had heard Jesus would be at Simon's house that night to take supper with him.  So, invites must have gone out - word getting out as to Jesus' expected whereabouts that evening.  Her intent was not so much to "crash the party" as to meet up with the one who lived and breathed mercy in each of his steps.

Do you see this woman here? It’s kind of funny. I entered your home, and you didn’t provide a basin of water so I could wash the road dust from My feet. You didn’t give Me a customary kiss of greeting and welcome. You didn’t offer Me the common courtesy of providing oil to brighten My face. But this woman has wet My feet with her own tears and washed them with her own hair. She hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. And she has applied perfumed oil to My feet. This woman has been forgiven much, and she is showing much love. But the person who has shown little love shows how little forgiveness he has received. (Luke 7:45-47 VOICE)

I have to wonder why she focused on the feet of Jesus rather than reaching out for his hand. Maybe it was because wherever his steps took him, people were healed, lives were transformed, and hearts were set free from the burdens of life.  Maybe there was something symbolic in kissing, washing, and anointing his feet - we might never know this side of heaven, but her actions spoke volumes to Jesus!  Her actions revealed her humbled and searching heart - one ravaged by sin so much that she is known simply as the "woman of ill repute".  Now, how about that as a "title"?  No name.  No family history.  Just the "woman of ill repute".  A woman from the city - a lady of the night.  One with a past.  I daresay, if we were honest, we may not have walked the streets in prostitution, but we have prostituted our souls, hearts, and minds to all manner of sinful deeds at one time or another.  We all could bear the title of "one of ill repute", could we not?

The absolute abandon of heart is what Jesus notices above all the other things in her character - even above the expensive perfume she brings to pour upon his feet.  It isn't her reputation as a woman of the streets, or her "unclean" state as one who sold her body to make a living.  No - he notices her heart.  He notices her humility and also her willingness to lay all else aside in pursuit of the one thing which would bring her peace and hope.  The one whose need was so great came with so little, but she gave it all in honoring the one whose very steps left trails of grace in their path.  Wherever his feet touched, trails of grace were left.  Wherever his hand touched, the presence of hope was generated anew and flames of passion ignited in the deadened hearts of those ravaged by sin.

In entering that home that evening, her world changed.  She wasn't formally invited, but she new grace would invite her in.  She wasn't intrigued by the fine table spread for the guests, or the rich wines likely to be shared, but by the grace which beckoned her to follow.  Maybe she touched his feet because it is with feet we follow - indicating she would walk with him from this point forward.  Maybe she touched his feet because she was revealing how low she had come in this life of hers - knowing no one could lift her from that state other than the one who filled lives with his peace, love, and hope.  Maybe she touched his feet because she noticed no one had thought to minister to her with any form of kindness or compassion for so many years it hurt.  It doesn't say why she did what she did - but she will always be known as the one who anointed Jesus' feet that night in the home of Simon the Pharisee.  She will always be known for the sacrifice of the expensive perfumed oil.  She will also always be known as the one not ashamed to do whatever it took to allow grace to leave a trail in her own life!

To this unselfish, humble heart, with no hope of "reputation" being anything other than the "woman of ill repute", there is nothing more important than grace.  Nothing more inviting than the forgiveness of her sins.  Nothing more intriguing than to experience the presence of the one man who didn't want her for her body, but for her heart and her soul.  Her new reputation is not to be missed - she became the "one who was forgiven much and in turn, showed much love".  She may not have known her reputation would change that night, but she had followed the trails of grace to the feet of the one who left grace everywhere he trod. In that moment in time, the pathway of "ill repute" was exchanged for one of "great honor". The one in need of so much forgiveness found it on the trail of grace.  The crowds in Simon's home couldn't understand the pathway she took - they only questioned her actions.  Jesus looked deeper into the hurting places of her heart and ministered to the ravished woman within.

We may not understand the situation of someone's life, nor the specific reasons they take some actions, even those which seem to give us consternation or unrest.  We can be like this woman, though - remembering we all walk the same trail of grace.  Just sayin!