The Woman Who Broke the Alabaster Jar

Luke 7:36-50 

This scene of the woman pouring out the alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus’ feet is slightly different from other Gospel records. Jesus was in the home of a leper named Simon. While here, Jesus is invited by Simon a Pharisee to his home. Others focus on the emotion of the woman. The conversation between Jesus and Simon the Pharisee is the focal point.

We want to look at the story from the perspective of the Pharisee and ours as well. Pharisees were those very devout in the Jewish tradition who followed the law. They were teachers for people. We may not admit that this Pharisee is us but many times we are like him as long-time believers.

While Jesus is at the table in Simon’s home, a woman comes, weeps at his feet, kisses them, pours the alabaster jar of perfume on them and wipes them with her tears. It is clear that Luke wanted to describe the deep love of the woman for Jesus.

Cynicism Toward Others
However in verse 39, we see a contrast in Simon who is standing off and muttering to himself that “the woman is a sinner and Jesus accepts the sinner”. We see cynicism in Simon. We need to ask ourselves if we are like Simon. The world is very cynical as you can tell by the comments people make on new stories, be it good or bad. People look at each other in a negative, cynical way with a pessimistic view. We believers live in the world which tempts us to fall into the same cynicism.

Forgiveness is grace given to us in Christ Jesus one for all.
Perceiving Simon’s evil thought, Jesus told him a parable Simon could understand. Two men owed money to one moneylender, one owed like 10,000 dollars and the other 100 dollars. Both debts are canceled. Jesus asked Simon who would love the moneylender more. Jesus used the parable that suits the thinking of the Pharisees. They have a quantitative thinking of faith. They always ask who has done more for God and who has brought more before God. In actuality, forgiveness is not quantitative. It is grace given to us in Christ Jesus one for all.

Forgiveness is redemptive, substitutionary and unconditional grace for us sinners. Jesus died on the cross, sacrificing His own life for us. Whether we are big sinners or small sinners, we have all been forgiven and brought back to connect to God while we were cut off from God.

How do we react to the forgiveness given to us?
Jesus’ words then were piercing from verse 44 through 47. Jesus told him that the woman showed great and amazing love in reaction to the forgiveness she had received, but “you have forgotten the grace of forgiveness” given to you and instead you have become lawful with forgiveness, putting condition before forgiveness and thinking some are not worthy of it. Nevertheless, God’s forgiveness is unconditional and even the worst sinners receive forgiveness, like Paul.

This woman had received tremendous forgiveness and love and she also reacted with the same amazing and complete love by giving out all she had to Jesus. Paul was another example who after receiving the forgiveness and love responded to the grace with a transformed life for Christ for the rest of his life. 

How do we react to the forgiveness given to us? Like the woman or the Pharisee?


By Jeremiah Chan
Bible Portal Contributor


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