Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. Luke 7:38
It was customary to offer water to honored guest so they could wash the dust off their feet, to prevent the world’s impurities from entering one’s household. It was also customary to greet your honored guest with a kiss and to anoint them with oil as a sign of honor and respect. Yet Simon decided to do neither. Simon is a High Priest. He is an educator, a man who has studied the ancient Hebrew text from his youth. He has also devoted himself to follow the Law and its traditions to the letter. He is highly respected by his community and revered by his contemporaries. His education had afforded him a life of possession and position. It had taught Simon how to be an intellectual but not how to be an impassioned individual; how to be a skeptic but not how to be a servant; how to be in control but not how to comfort.
So here, we have the situation of Simon, a Pharisee who welcomes Jesus into his home, who has witnessed signs and miracles; who has sensed the sensation surrounding a Savior; who is secretly one amongst the crowd; who is standing at the doorway and peering into the window of the Salvation. And that’s when Mary enters the house, blown in by the gale winds of sin like a particle of worldly dust. She is impure, uneducated, scorned and has violated every tradition Simon holds sacred. Just by being female she is a second-class citizen. Just by entering the house of a Pharisee she is moments away from a certain death. There were crowds outside saturating the seams of the wayside but there were no women allowed inside. Any daughter of Eve would have to capture their miracle discreetly— a touch of a garment! A brother’s resurrection! An overthrown stone! Mary is too ashamed to look up. She is too afraid to look around. So she instead cowers on the ground, weeping, saying nothing, honoring Jesus the only way she knows how.
The room grew silent except for her sobbing. Simon fought back his embarrassment. The men gestured their outrage. Some had slept with her. Some had bribed her. But all knew of her. She brought to Jesus the things she valued, her worldly possessions. They were the only things that gave her a desire to live until now. She had lost everyone and everything. She was treated in the city like discarded trash. Since she could remember, things, not people, had anesthetized her pain and brought a drizzle of joy. But now her drizzle of joy had turned into a rain of tears. And now the very things she thought made her attractive and desirable she gave without compunction to the Lord.
Jesus looked into her swollen eyes, her make-up smeared face of mud and perfume, into all her sorrows, all her failures, all her mistakes, and exchanged them all . . . All of her hurt for humility, all of her labels for love, all her pain for His peace. Her tears were no longer trapped by her reputation and so the dam of condemnation, which had imprisoned her heart, burst out to Him in a flood of emotion, and her tears began to flow like a river, a new life, a new journey, until they washed her hair and found his feet. She didn’t say a word to Jesus. She didn’t change her ways. She didn’t make a vow to be perfect. She didn’t know what would happen to her life after she stood up again. The only thing she knew for certain was her love for Him . . . Her worship to Him . . . The thanksgiving in heart towards Him . . . Her testimony because of Him.
And so, Mary did what she knew to do—what she had always done. She gave herself away!