My cousin Marty, who lives in Texas and is so dear to me, introduced me to the author Francine Rivers. She told me how the author had studied scripture, to know it well enough to tell the story behind the event. I have only read one book of hers, but love the way she brings to light the stories I have read in the bible.
As a young girl, reading my bible was “weird.” I mean, the way a passage was like a news report – “just the facts ma’am.” It was so impersonal and I always wanted to know more. In my growing faith, I learned to use my imagination as I read deeper into the stories so that I would hunger to know Jesus more personally.
So when my Marty, told me about this author and how she takes the facts of the bible and creates a story of what may have happened behind the scenes that weren’t written – but adding a possible background to give us a more personal glimpse, therefore making these people “touchable.”
I also have really loved the tv series The Chosen, by Dallas Jenkins. I would even say I am a top fan of this show. I trust that Dallas isn’t just a movie/television producer who is trying to make wholesome entertainment, but that the Holy Spirit has put this colossal project on his heart, and has equipped him in the making and telling of this show.
I watch all of Dallas’ video commentaries on Facebook and Youtube, about making the first and second seasons of this multi-season show. And I see God’s hand, as Dallas, who is knowledgeable in scripture, brings the behind the scenes emotions of the event’s surrounding Jesus’ ministry and those He chose to follow Him. The first episode of Season Two is coming out on Easter.
From the days when men wore only white shirts and a suit and tie to church, and the ladies all wore dresses… we have come so far, in learning that God’s Word teaches more about the heart, than the many rituals. We aren’t as strict to follow certain man-made rules, and we practice hearing the Holy Spirit speaking to us while the Word of God is the plumb line.
So with this enlightenment, as God has shed His light through these wonderful storytellers, who aren’t afraid to step out of the box – we can see in our mind’s eye, possible thoughts and conversations of these beloved Bible characters, which help us to put ourselves in their position.
These storytellers are careful to understand what true sacrilege is, and though I’m sure they have their critics, I know these writers are staying true to God’s word while presenting possible scenarios to the recorded events. When we are walking in the Lord’s will, we can discern what the Holy Spirit is blessing, and what He isn’t.
This morning, I was studying in my Bible, with a “Bible in One Year” devotional plan on The Bible App (Youversion) by Nicky Gumble. This writer keeps it very interesting as he helps explain several passages in God’s Word each day.
While reading one of the passages in Luke, I couldn’t be satisfied with just the account I read. I needed more. I needed to put myself there. I had to dive in. The Holy Spirit told me to close my eyes and to really see the woman in Luke’s account, who spilled her tears on Jesus feet. Just like my favorite storytellers, I was to use my mind’s eye, on how I thought this event took place.
Then the Holy Spirit said, “Write about it.”
Now, this isn’t a novel, or a multi-season tv series, but I am a storyteller, who loves to talk about Jesus. While attempting to write what my heart saw in this story, I don’t really have a format in mind, or know how it will unfold. I just have to write. So here goes.
Setting the Stage
In Matthew’s account, he calls her a woman with an alabaster flask. Mark refers to her the same way, while Luke speaks of her being a sinner, and John enlightens us that the woman is Mary who anoints Jesus feet with fragrant oil. We know the Gospels are some of the same stories written by different men who followed Jesus, but with different perspectives – yet, all were anointed and inspired by God. Their truth is THE truth, but from “different sides of the room.”
Matthew focuses on the flask of expensive oil the woman uses to anoint Jesus’ feet and how a few of the disciples were indignant at her wasting it, while Jesus explains she has done a beautiful thing.
Mark’s focus is about the same (maybe Mathew and Mark were sitting together).
Luke zeros in on the woman crying, and how she was so overwhelmed with emotion, her tears spilled all over Jesus’ feet, which were still dusty from walking. Luke doesn’t name her as Mary, but he must have been captivated at her display of affection for Jesus – her worship, that it was the most memorable. He then speaks of the ointment.
And, the lesson he understood from Jesus, was more about how the host Simon, a Pharisee (also known as Simon the leper) didn’t even wash Jesus’ feet when He came to his house. And the fact that this woman – who was a sinner, not only washed His feet with her very tears, but anointed them, and kissed His feet. And, he tells that Jesus forgave her of her sins, and he shares a parable Jesus told about being forgiven much or little.
John’s account of this story was much like Mathew and Mark’s, but he goes as far as pointing the finger at Judas for being the one who asked why Mary would waste the ointment, and letting us know that Judas was about to betray Jesus.
He supposes that Judas didn’t really care about the waste of the ointment, because Judas was a thief anyway, having charge of the moneybag and helped himself to it. And the lesson he takes from Jesus, as with Mathew and Mark, is that they will always have the poor with them, but they will not always have Him.
So here are pieces of four accounts from different perspectives, to fill in a few gaps while I focus on Luke’s account. I will give the scripture as I take it by sections… a personal walk in this room as if I were there.
As Jesus’ ministry was growing, people came from far and wide to hear Him teach. Not all of the crowds followed because they believed He was the Son of God – some were simply spectators, wanting to see this man who had become so famous. Some heard of Him healing others, and they came to be healed. Even religious leaders came to hear Him – some curious and some wanted to trap Him because what He taught was different, but also it made them look bad.
One Pharisees asked Him to eat with him at his home. Jesus came to the Pharisee’s house and as He entered this man’s home, He was not greeted properly nor did any servant provide the means for Jesus to wash his dusty feet.
I am sure with the heat, the doors were left open, or perhaps Mary traveled with the disciples and was invited with Jesus. But she was there. And at this point, after having been delivered from several demons, and Jesus turning her life around, Mary was overcome with emotion. She owed her life to The Messiah. She had seen Him perform miracles of God.
When Jesus had stirred up (good) trouble, teaching, healing and fulfilling the law, she may have feared for His life, as she saw how the Romans and religious leaders were upset with Jesus. She wanted to give Him her whole heart. She knew she was sinful. She knew how people looked at her. She knew she was not worthy – yet she knew Jesus’ worth. He was her redeemer.
Mary had a very expensive jar of fragrant oil with her. She looked down at Jesus feet, and realized no one had washed is feet. The host of the house had no idea he was in the presence of The Messiah. The one who saves.
She was behind Jesus and she couldn’t help but weep. Tears were spilling down Mary’s cheeks, and her heart raced at the thought of what she felt she needed to do. Being a woman, and… a woman with a past; it would take courage to do what was in her heart – to anoint her Lord with the expensive oil. She was sobbing as she bowed down to Him. She saw her tears fall on His feet and instead of feeling embarrassed, at this point – she was all-in.
She wished she could wash His feet in the basin by the door, but she knew that would cause the master of the house to be angry and embarrassed because he didn’t have his servants offer to do so. As she saw the dust on Jesus feet mix with her tears, she grabbed for her head covering that hung over her shoulders along with her hair, and she just began wiping Jesus feet with her hair, still crying. She kissed Jesus feet as she sobbed and under her breath, muttered that she was not worthy. But she proceeded, breaking the flask open and anointed Jesus’ feet.
The sweet fragrance filled the room, and as the Pharisee realized what was happening, he muttered under his breath, “If this man were a prophet – he’d know what manner of woman this is who is touching him… a sinner.”
And Jesus, filled with Love and compassion over what Mary just did, and finding it fitting because it was symbolic to what would be happening soon – when Jesus would be put to death.
He turned to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you,” which caused Simon to pay attention.
Jesus told a story of a creditor, who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denari, the other, fifty. When neither of them could repay their debt, the creditor forgave bother their debts.
“Tell Me, which of them will Love him more?” Jesus asked. Simon answered with what he thought seemed obvious, “I guess the one who owed him more…” And Jesus told him that was right. And then… He gave Simon ‘the what-for.’
“Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave me no water to wash my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with the hair on her head. You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil.
“Therefore, I say to you, her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she Loved much.” Jesus then looks at Mary and tells her, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Mary having been overcome with shame and sadness, was now overcome with Joy. Jesus made the difference in her life forever! She could hold her head up, she could step out in faith – because Jesus knew her heart and that is what it is all about.